Life is Precious
Do we have more in common than we think on some big issues?
Here we are again in the aftermath of tumultuous, contentious events. Recent shootings, in a church, a grocery store and a school have highlighted the depths of the human potential for violence. The loss of children is especially shocking as they seem to be especially treasured targets to the wicked who stalk the land. We keep asking the same questions about gun control and mental illness. It’s the same cycle of tragedy, accusation, counter accusation, etc., etc., all of which begins shortly after the first victim dies.
Another enormous cultural shift may occur if Roe vs. Wade is overturned. Look for anger and protests and who knows? Maybe violence and riots will follow that sea change in our culture.
I try to look for connection points. I try to find where this event meets that event, where this idea crosses another. And I think maybe I’ve found one. Because somehow this moment of chaos on gun crime seems to run right across this moment in the history and future of abortion.
On both issues we have people who believe strongly, passionately, in the sanctity of human life. Those who want the Grail of gun control, who want as many firearms banned as possible, who want the 2nd Amendment overturned as anachronistic, those people believe that the traditionally interpreted right to keep and bear arms runs counter to a higher call to preserve life. As a person who believes strongly in gun rights, it’s nevertheless hard to to hear their point and at least respect it. While I think that their suggested measures will fail, either in legislation or implementation, I know that they don’t want to see any more innocent lives lost. Those of us who are pro 2A should be as shocked and grief stricken as anyone over lives lost. Indeed, I think that most are. We aren’t made of stone and we have loved ones of our own.
Those who want the Grail of anti-abortion, the overturning of Roe Vs. Wade, are also passionate about the sanctity of life. And this is important: anti-abortionists see abortion as a taking of life no less real than that which occurs in a shooting. It has become culturally sterilized and hidden beneath euphamisms; it has been wrapped up in the language of freedom and rights as surely as guns have. But one cannot deny that a life ends in an abortion. The semantics of the beginning of life, at conception or later, are rhetorical sleight of hand.
But those who want to see abortion ‘safe, legal and rare’ are also concerned that women be spared the dangers of unsafe abortion, or the compulsion to carry to term the child of rape or incest. They are willing to tolerate the existence of this procedure and accept the millions of dead children (which is ultimately undeniable) as a kind of transaction to maintain a right. The idea of a woman being unable to terminate a pregnancy in her own body is anathema to them and to their conception of freedom.
Pro gun citizens look at the world around and see violence and genocide, tyranny and torture, and the inability of state actors to protect them, and decide that the mathematics of gun violence can be tolerably calculated in exchange for freedom from attack, either by individuals or governments. The idea of helplessness is anathema to their conception of freedom.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am pro-gun and anti-abortion. But that doesn’t mean I can’t think about this. We can all think about this. Because one way or another, we all ‘do the math’ when it comes to important issues.
Maybe when it comes to both abortion and gun control, there are more commonalities that we like to admit as we try to balance freedoms against the terrible price freedom can extract. This doesn’t make me anti-gun or pro-abortion. But it does mean that we should all be able to talk with one another in the knowledge that life is messy, rights complicated and that like so many issues down the ages, one way or the other there just always seems to be blood.