Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Word About One Issue Voting (Part 2) [Jay]

My wife and I were watching Citizen King, a documentary about Martin Luther King , Jr, on public television the other night. Early in the program they were chronicling the Birmingham demonstrations of 1963, a specific moment struck me as telling on this discussion. The demonstrations are not going well. The black citizens of Birmingham are not rallying to the cause and the faithful few are dwindling. The city had just delivered an injunction that all those who march will be arrested. A strategy session with the leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is called to discuss how to proceed. Many of these men are ministers and pastors, and with Easter coming and the demonstrations going poorly a growing sentiment is expressed. It is time to go home and tend to our flocks for the Easter service. Even Martin Luther King Sr. is telling Martin Jr. to go home to Ebenezer Baptist Church and lead his congregation in the holiday service.

The next thing that happened as described by those in attendance was this. Dr. King stood up and went into his room. A few moments later he emerged from the room wearing blue jeans. Everyone in the room understood what the choice in pants meant. Dr. King intended to go out and march. More importantly, he intended to defy an unjust law knowing that he was going to be arrested and spend some time in jail. So he wore the jeans instead of his suit. The declaration of purpose by Dr. King was clear to everyone in the room. There may be other things that I can be doing. They may even be important things, as a pastor clearly takes shepherding his flock as vital to his calling. But there is no job that I can be doing more important than this job right here right now. There were good reasons to turn away and go home. There was a better reason to stay. Our job is not done, and only injustice will be served by going elsewhere. Other important things must wait while we attend to this evil today.

There are two things highlighted by this anecdote. The first point is that the answer to slow progress is not always to take a step back. The problem is not that we have tried electing pro-life officials and it has failed. My estimation of the problem is that after electing the officials we have not been vigilant enough to make certain that they are fulfilling their pro-life promises. We are not suffering from a job tried and failed. We are suffering the results of a job half tried at best. We give them support and then let them off of the hook. Our pro-life elected officials need to see that WE care about the issue of life outside of election cycles. They need to hear from US that their current efforts are not sufficient, if they are not, and that we have higher expectations for them than to be ready to vote accordingly when someone else has the courage to propose legislation.

The second point is that this and the Frederick Douglas example in part 1 demonstrate a tragedy. In the past when a group of people in our nation were categorized as either less than human or not worth the full protection of human rights under the Constitution of the United States, a polarizing and articulate member of that oppressed group has arisen to defy the caricatures. How can anyone read My Bondage and My Freedom and still assert that Frederick Douglass by virtue of being black is less a man than any other? When I saw the film of Dr. King walking out of the strategy meeting into the streets and being arrested, it was impossible to take seriously the wild and hateful accusations of his detractors that he did not deserve the full rights of citizenry. Susan B. Anthony asked in the court of law in 1873, "Are women persons?" As one group tried to dehumanize another, there has always been a member of the oppressed group that stood as a living counter argument to the lies that were used to justify injustice. Sadly, there is no such hero of the unborn coming. Those who look to minimize others have found in the unborn the perfect victim. We are left with images and argument to fill the silence from those whom by virtue of their age and development can not argue for themselves.

I am a one-issue voter, if by that you mean I will not vote for any man or woman who believes that it is a basic right of American citizens to take the life of an innocent human being for elective reasons. I confess that the lives of the unborn are important to me because I believe that they are important to God. I further assert that those who believe that the unborn are human beings have an obligation to speak out on their behalf. There is no hero coming this time. It is left to us to defend them with all of the passion and resources we have available. We are the only voice they have.

6 comments:

  1. Jay,

    Thank you very much for your well thought out perception of one of the problems we face!

    What most stood out to me is that we must hold "pro-life" legislators accountable. Republican legislators, in particular, have ridden to office on the pro-life mantle, but have given either lip-service or half-support to pro-life goals. That has to stop, or else our support for them must instead.

    We are facing one of those issues in Colorado. For instance, we have a "pro-life" legislator sponsoring a mandatory HPV vaccination bill which will inevitably increase early sexual activity (by making kids feel even more invincible), and thereby also unwanted pregnancy and abortion. He scoffs at the connection, but it's obvious to those of us who see the "life-cycle" of the abortion mindset in young people.

    In any case, Colorado Right to Life has recently committed to never compromise on the right to life (see our pledge, at www.coloradorighttolife.org), and will soon be holding a "legislator's luncheon" to explain our positions to legislators -- what we expect of them, as well as how we/they can defend our positions with medical and philosophical authority.

    I think some of our legislators may be stunned to find that what has passed for support of "the pro-life issue" in the past just won't cut it anymore.

    As to your comment about having no one to speak for the victims of abortion, you might look up Gianna Jessen -- http://members.tripod.com/~joseromia/gianna.html -- who is a young woman whose mom TRIED to have her aborted, but the abortion was botched and she survived. It's an incredible story -- how she's suffered and was left with MS from her experience, but how she has lived and become a success in life despite her hard life. She was our guest at our banquet last year.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Ed Hanks

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ed,

    Thank you for your comments and for your obvious devotion to this cause. There are a couple of things that I would like to address. First, I am stunned at the series of commercials for the “HPV/cancer causing virus” spots that never address the manner in which this virus is spread. My wife fumes that the portrayal is as if HPV was the cold and women could not help but contract it. I am no Serge, so I will leave my comments to my shock at the deceptive nature of the ads.

    Second point, it is imperative that we hold our elected officials accountable. The “leaders” must be encouraged to take action. The others must be motivated to support the action. Since they only truly fear large numbers of voters this means we have to convince and inspire the sympathetically pro-life Americans that this is more than an election issue. Numbers matter in fighting this battle. The active numbers must rise to the point that they can not be ignored. It is still too easy for the mainstream media to ignore the marches. Cities will have to choke on the numbers of marchers before network news agencies acknowledge them in any real way.

    Finally, Gianna will not be able to speak as one of the unborn as she is no longer unborn any more than the rest of us. The problem is one of identification. I look at Frederick Douglas and see a man who by all physical appearances holds the traits that identify him as less than me in the pro-slavery arguments. He is the living foil. Those that argue that black men and women are less than human and no more than property have a brilliant black man and former slave standing in front of them defying the characterization. Gianna is not a walking talking unborn human being. Such a person does not exist. She does not live with the characteristics that would be used to dehumanize her by pro-aborts. They will look at her and say she is a person now, but she was not then. She has acquired the characteristics that make her worthy of rights like all of the rest of us. She has a powerful story, but she still speaks for those who can not speak for themselves. Like all of us. No unborn voice will ever cry out in a court of law, “Am I a person?” That is why we must do it for them.

    Keep up the good fight,
    Jay

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks, Jay! And the same to you.

    I notice from your profile that you're from Georgia. I've seen that abortion ban bill being considered (passed?) by the GA legislature, and it's really a remarkable piece of legislation.

    I do hope and pray that it passes... I think I saw somewhere that it "likely" will!

    Praise be!

    Ed

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Jay,

    I appreciate your sentiments but have to disagree with you in one area.

    There are some people out there who are raising up the pro-life movement in a way that future generations will look back and remember well.

    Why, I think even SK knows who some of those people are...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Andrew,

    Did I imply that there is no one effectively championing the pro-life movement? My point about Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., and Susan B. Anthony was that they WERE the oppressed human beings. They could speak for themselves in a manner that highlighted the disparity between what the varying oppositional forces said they were and what they actually were. That Scott, Dr. Beckwith, Greg Koukl, and many others are making a difference is not only obvious to me, but inspiring to me. The point was meant to highlight that we have to work harder this time because we have no hope of one of the oppressed rising up in protest and voicing their humanity. They, the actual oppressed, simply can not this time.

    Jay

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