Thoughts On Abortion

During World War II, the Nazis referred to the Jews as “rats.” Amidst the Rwandan genocide of the mid 1990’s, the Hutus called the Tutsis “cockroaches.” Written into the US Constitution during the time of slavery, the Three-Fifths Compromise defined each black slave as three-fifths a human being, or put more succinctly, less than fully human.

The same thing has occurred in the modern abortion debate: a human life, a baby, is now unaffectionately referred to as a fetus, removing from it the human connotation and making it appear to be less than what it really is. When one defines their opponent in such a way as to make them appear to be an animal or sub-human, their eventual extermination becomes more palatable to the average person. (For more on this phenomenon read Less Than Human: Why we demean, enslave, and exterminate others by David Livingstone Smith). We see this same tactic used in much of what passes for political discourse these days. Demonize and dehumanize the object of your scorn and you subtly delegitimize their value.

Both sides struggle to frame the abortion debate in ways that make their own positions appear more acceptable. Is a person pro-choice or pro-abortion? Is another pro-life or anti-choice? No matter how one characterizes themselves or their opponents, we can never lose sight of the fact that at the very heart of the issue we are talking about life, not just a clump of developing cells akin to a growth or tumour. To define a baby in such a way is to make it’s termination and extraction seem far more remedial a procedure and far less distasteful to the average person. We are a culture where our personal comfort is the “value” we cherish most, while doing what may be difficult (raising a child of an unplanned pregnancy) proves to be too much of an inconvenience for many.

Words have powerful meanings. Those that have sought to exterminate their enemies in times past have known that and have defined them in ways that questioned their humanness. We must be just as strong in exposing this tactic and calling it what it is: evil. But that assumes one even has the categories of right and wrong, good and evil, in their vocabulary to begin with.

There is much more I will say on this subject over time, but for now I leave you with this:

How can we speak of the termination of a pregnancy when what we really mean is the destruction of a human life? How can we talk of therapeutic abortion when pregnancy is not a disease needing therapy and what abortion effects is not a cure but a killing? How can we talk of abortion as a kind of retroactive contraception when what it does is not prevent conception but destroy the conceptus? We need to have the courage to use accurate language. Abortion is feticide: the destruction of an unborn child. It is the shedding of innocent blood, and any society that can tolerate this, let alone legislate for it, has ceased to be civilized. -John Stott

Time Almost Stood Still

I turn my back to the wind
To catch my breath,
Before I start off again
Driven on,
Without a moment to spend
To pass an evening
With a drink and a friend

-Time Stand Still, Rush

This past weekend I was cleaning out a few boxes and came across an old photo a friend had gotten signed for me circa 1996. Most would think it a kind gesture, but the story still makes me scream, “Are you kidding me?!!!” in my head.

I have been a die-hard Rush fan my entire life and recounting this story brings back a weird mixture of feelings between loss and silliness. I’ve never been one to hold celebrities in high esteem but this represented two thirds of the greatest rock band in the world! So it was different.

This friend of mine, who I’ll call Tom, use to frequent a restaurant in Toronto called Pronto. At times a little stuffy, Pronto was known for a good wine list and on occasion would host some high-end wine tastings. Another frequent patron of Pronto was Alex Lifeson.

It was another Friday night wine tasting and Tom found himself seated across from this funny blond guy who really liked his wine. They got to talking about their wine collections, their love of golf, Toronto restaurants, and places they had travelled. At the end of the evening, the funny blond guy told Tom he was having a few friends to his house the following night for a little food and wine and he’d like to invite Tom to join them. Tom thought it sounded like a fun night and accepted.

While not really into music, Tom was able to connect some dots and figure out that Alex was in some Canadian band called Rush.

Tom showed up Saturday night and instantly the wine was flowing. There were six of them in total exchanging grape-flavoured tales, and one of the fellows present was another guy in the band named Geddy. Weird name, he thought. After awhile the conversation turned to stories from the road and music.

At one point, Tom said, “I have a friend who is just crazy about you guys but I had no idea you were actually quite popular.”

“We’re just getting going. Call him up and invite him over. There’s plenty of wine,” said Alex nonchalantly.

“Yeah, call him him up!” Geddy replied while raising a glass.

One of the other men present said, “Do it. I’m sure he won’t even believe you.”

Now it’s at this moment I cannot believe the turn the story takes. It seems like an invite of every Rush fans dream. Tom had just one job at this point. One job. Pick. Up. The. Phone. But something happened in Tom’s brain that to this day remains inexplicable.

“I would, but he’s not really a wine drinker,” Tom stupidly muttered. “If you guys could just sign something for him that would be great.” Now to be fair, 20 years ago I wasn’t much of a wine drinker but have come to enjoy it over time. But I certainly could have faked it for a night.

The night continued well into the morning. More wine. More stories. Headaches had by all.

Monday morning came around. Tom called me early at work and said, “I’ve got something for you, let’s meet for lunch.” We met at our usual spot and Tom began recounting the story I’ve just told. I remember it almost word for word as I went from despair, to disbelief, and back to despair. I almost didn’t believe him until he handed me this:

Alex: “Join us for a drink next time”
Geddy: “Too bad you don’t drink.”

Tom had a big smile on his face, thinking he had done something good. I looked at him like he was insane.

“So let me get this straight, Alex and Geddy want you to invite me over to hang out with you guys, and you don’t think that’s a good idea? Are you really that retarded?” I said to him incredulously.

At that moment Tom realized the gravity of his error in judgment as he sheepishly said, “But, I was drinking.”

We are still friends to this day. But we have never spoken of this incident again.

The Gods Of The Copybook Headings

In 1919, Rudyard Kipling published his poem The Gods of the Copybook Headings which represented the time-tested and proven wisdom of old, pitted against the new ideas and moralities that proved pleasurable and fleeting, yet in the end, destructive.

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four —
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began: —
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Kipling seemed prescient in his ability to see where the “new wisdom” would lead, and in fact did lead, and how the principles of old held true time and again in the face of those who denied them. It is far more pronounced today and the progressive experiments we see all around us, that deny that which works and the way things were meant to be, will ultimately fail. But the progressive mind is not one that understands nor learns from history; and becomes evermore puzzled as to why they are doomed to repeat it.

Peace Will Come

“Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Now your life’s no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you.”

“Carry on my wayward son,
For there’ll be peace when you are done,
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more.”

-Kerry Livgren, Kansas, 1977