Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thoughts on anger.

Recently I have learned a few lessons, which I hesitated to post at first, but the encouragement of a friend has convinced me that this needs to be said.

However, before I say it, I will offer a disclaimer. If you are the type of person who inspired this post, such a disclaimer will probably mean nothing to you, but I ask you to prove me wrong on that assumption, and give it a thoughtful read anyway..

This post is in no way meant to characterize every member of a certain movement. It is merely a commentary on an unfortunate few who prefer to confirm stereotypes, rather than confound them. Nor should my comments be taken as the universal opinions of those active in a certain other movement. It is possible for people to share an idea in common, and be very different when it comes to everything else.

There, now to my topic.

Last month, I attempted (I admit, imprudently) to reach out in a spirit of Christian love to a fellow human being (really, a pair of them) in whose life abortion was soon to play a part. I also encouraged those who share my faith to offer prayers for the person in question.

The response to this astonished me, though in retrospect, it probably shouldn't have. I have learned a few useful lessons from this, which I would like to pass along.

In the first place, any naiveté I had about certain elements within the pro-choice movement has been completely erased. I know better than to approach possible abortion patients when persons of a certain sort are around. It's like adding water to a grease fire in the kitchen. They are so prejudiced, so angry, that they can't possibly believe that I, or any other pro-lifer could be remotely helpful, charitable, or understanding. They assume that because a woman is contemplating abortion that it must be the best option for her, and if she is unsure, carefully offer her no information that might tend to make her choose to carry a pregnancy to term. Never mind that she could feel pressured into it by friends, family, a husband or a boyfriend. Never mind that she may not feel that she has other viable options, and would prefer those, were they more available to her. Never mind that some---many women have changed their minds about having abortions, and not only are they "not sorry", they feel great about it, and are relieved that they didn't have one. Never mind that there are other women who have not changed their minds, and continue to be sorry. (Again I will note that I am quite aware that there are some pro-choice people who take those possibilities into account, but on this occasion, they are not my primary subject.)

There's a reason why women seeking abortion feel frightened, and scared. It's not because they face the kind of stigma that might have followed them in the 50's (in which time period some think they still live, apparently). It's because, as early American feminist Mattie Brinkerhoff said, " when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged." This is where the fear comes from when a woman faces the possibility of abortion. Deep down, our consciences know that destroying life in the womb is not right. The fear comes from a woman's inmost being warning her that she is about to do something ugly, to avoid circumstances that appear to be even uglier. There are many pro-lifers working tirelessly, and quietly to mitigate this unnecessary ugliness, because women do truly deserve better.

There are those who can't believe, who would prefer not to believe that we might actually be sincere when we say that women deserve better than abortion, and so they convince themselves we are liars and we are just saying that to control other people. The reality is, we think it is O.K. for women to listen to their consciences, and to act on them, and we are here to make that a little less frightening for them, if they are willing to accept our help, even if they want our help after a "choice" has already been made.

And then, within the pro-life movement are many of us born after the Roe decision. We aren't happy with the peril in which that court decision placed our lives. We know we would not be here had our mothers made different choices, and we breathe a deep sigh of relief, especially those of us whose mothers would have had every legitimate reason in the eyes of most of the pro-choicers to have us aborted. There are women in our mothers' generation who did make the choice to have an abortion, and who stand up in front of us and testify to the horror and sadness they have experienced. They feel the absence of a person who would have been their child; who, had s/he lived would have had birthdays and graduations, who may have been my friend, or my classmate. There are some who scoff at the grief of these women. There are some who laugh derisively (or just get enraged) at we who escaped legal abortion and live to say what we think about it. They cheapen our lives, our mothers' sacrifices, and the pain of those who would have been mothers with their scorn.

Some of these people are especially unwilling to hear us because of their own past abortions, and try to drown us out with their cries of "not sorry". Are they really not sorry? Denial is very powerful when one wants to avoid anything difficult, whether it be personal guilt or just the everyday tragedies of life. If a woman who has had an abortion has to face the truth, she will have to deal with it. If she thinks about how many people she has encouraged to do as she has, and realizes what that means, she will have even more do deal with. That means feeling bad. And we all know that modern culture is all about feeling good, and feeling loved and accepted, especially loving and accepting yourself. That's the premise upon which everything is sold to us today. Everything from fitness equipment, to junk food, to lipstick, to medical quackery such as abortion. Throw in the fact that "love" and "acceptance" have been twisted to mean being O.K. with everything about a person, and we have quite a problem. If love means "never having to say you're sorry" to yourself or anyone else, and a person suddenly finds herself unable to be O.K with a part of her past, that is equivalent, in modern thinking, to ceasing to love herself.

The result is that no matter what I say, however gently or how bluntly to a person contemplating abortion, certain people will fly into a rage, and twist it to make me look like I'm a bible-thumping, fire breathing, ignorant, religious zealot (Oh, I almost forgot to add judgmental prude to the list). They will do this deliberately in the presence of the very person whom I am trying to help. All I have to do is offer information about fetal development, or ask, have you considered other alternatives? Apparently, this is harassment.

And instead of a polite "We'd prefer that no pro-life perspectives here, thanks, have a nice day" in response to my polite suggestion, I get a string of profanity thrown at me, and a door shut in my face. Slammed by people who prefer the comfort of their own prejudices to the reality of my intentions. Despite the fact that I am but one person, they clearly think I'm enough of a threat to run me out of town before I can get a word in edgewise to defend myself. One or two have even taken it upon themselves to keep an eye on my writing (Greetings to you, if you are still here.)

This brings me to the next thing I have learned. Some pro-choicers have a strange enjoyment of being offended. Thanks to one or two in particular, on the two days following the aforementioned outreach attempt, I had an extra 200 hits on my blog from pro-choicers eager to see just what kind of a freak show they could find here. A few were even repeat visitors. I had close to 50 extra hits on the third day. Apparently the interest waned fairly quickly. I suppose I'm boring.

Even so, while they were here these visitors derived great personal enjoyment from reading my blog and congratulating themselves on their own superiority. One who clearly buys into the stereotypes of what pro-lifers are like assumed I'm a zealot who thinks she's a harlot (Hey, a rhyme! There's got to be a poem in there somewhere). She even took the time to label herself as such (I assume not accurately), because she concluded this would save me the trouble. She needn't have bothered, though, as such is not my opinion of her, and in the process of calling me and herself several choice names, she made it necessary for me to start moderating comments. I'd rather not bore my readers with such feeble exercises in verbal creativity, therefore I can only tolerate so much profanity at once on my obscure little blog.

Well, not quite as obscure as it used to be. :)

I have already apologized on my blog for the mistakes I have made in this process, which are partially responsible for my being so offensive and unwelcome to certain people. One of these was having the openness to deliberately use a screen name that would allow anyone who can use Google to find out I'm pro-life, and that I have a blog where I talk about it. (And yes, I did indeed contemplate that possibility before I placed myself in the situation. Those who think I am a liar will not believe that. They have a right to think about me what they will.) The only reason they had any material with which to mock me and my views was that I allowed them to find that information. The other error was not taking the time to assess the nature of the people with whom I was about to be in contact. Had I known what kind of reaction my actions would produce, that I would be perceived as a threat no matter how non-threatening I am, I would have acted differently.

However, my intentions were of the kindest nature with respect to the persons to whom my actions were directed, and I carry no guilt whatsoever with respect to those.

But, before I close, there is still one debt I must pay. I have yet to offer thanks to those who taught me the valuable lessons here named. And so I offer them with the same humility of my previous apology.

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