My column for The Elgin Review 7.15.2020
Driving south on Highway 14 there’s a billboard north of Elgin’s city limits with a sweet baby on it. The sign says, “Every life deserves a lifetime.” In smaller print it says, “pro-life.”
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be pro-life. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in 1983 wrote and spoke of the consistent ethic of life, teaching that all human life is sacred and to be protected.
I wonder if it’s easier for us to agree with the Cardinal when protecting life is no real inconvenience to us? Putting up a sign, standing in a life-chain, buying a “choose life” license plate requires of us little effort and no real inconvenience. If that’s being “pro-life” it’s easy.
It’s more difficult to affirm that every life deserves a lifetime when it’s someone we love who is facing an unplanned pregnancy and is in no position to raise a child. It’s more difficult to affirm that every life deserves a lifetime when study after study proves that what actually works to diminish abortions is not changing laws, but paying to provide a social safety net and easy access to birth control and health care. When poverty decreases, abortion rates decline—but to make that happen, we have to decide that caring for the poor is a priority worthy of our tax dollars.
It’s more difficult to affirm that every life deserves a lifetime when Capital Punishment is what is being considered and the lifetime is that of one convicted of a heinous crime, or when our nation’s military is engaged in endless wars, leaving dead children and civilians who are foreigners as collateral damage. Do foreigners also deserve a full lifetime?
Being pro-life is easy when it requires nothing of us, when it’s as simple as voting for the candidate who claims to be pro-life, and putting yet another bumper sticker on the back of the van or truck.
I wonder, if we’re pro-life why is it difficult to affirm that Black Lives Matter? If we’re pro-life, why are we willing to sit quietly by while our justice system serves up death in too many instances to unarmed people of color?
And, even closer to home, I wonder, if we’re pro-life why aren’t we doing everything in our power to make sure we aren’t spreading a potentially deadly virus to our neighbors? Why aren’t we, at a minimum, wearing a mask every single time we’re out in public? Why aren’t we bending over backwards to keep our neighbors and loved ones safe? Why aren’t we foregoing the night at the bar, the baby shower for our niece, the picnic with our friends, when by not getting together we can keep each other and our community safer from a disease that is deadly to some?
If every life deserves a lifetime, maybe we need to be more willing to be a little inconvenienced, a little uncomfortable, a little bored and lonely for the foreseeable future. Maybe we need to be willing to be taxed in one way or another.
Or maybe, it’s only a billboard and we don’t really mean what it says at all.
Park Church is back to worshipping outdoors at 9:15 on Sunday mornings as a result of the up-tick in COVID-19 cases in Antelope County. You are welcome to join us for worship on the church grounds, or via Zoom. Those worshipping in person are wearing masks and maintaining 6 foot distances between families. I welcome your comments and questions. Beckyzmcneil@gmail.com 402.540.5615