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Why I Am Pro-Life

April 28, 2018 Featured Today No Comments


An analysis of the first two words of the sentence, “Why I Am Pro-Life,” is most instructive. The “I” is ambiguous. It could be the ego closed in on itself or it could represent the person whose existence is far more expansive than the self that is truncated by its egoism. The word “Why” knocks on the door of the “I” and asks it to reveal itself on the horizon of reason.
“Why did you do this?” the mother asks her child who had just done something naughty. In so asking she is obliging her child to give an account of himself. When we give an account of ourselves on the plane of reason or unreason, we reveal who we are.
To reveal who I am can be terrifying. This is why the Socratic dictum, “know thyself” is so difficult to achieve. We can remain strangers to ourselves. It takes both courage and honesty to recognize who I am and to live by it. All else is a delusion. My first step in being pro-life is to accept my own life. Only then can I be of service to the lives of others. We are not islands, to echo the words of the poet, John Donne, but part of the continent.
Thus, the question “Why” leads to the question “Who.” When I give an account of my reasons for acting, I reveal who I am. I may be selfish or generous, foolish or wise, idle or involved, solitary or social, complacent or creative, indolent or loving. But I must know who I am in order to be truly myself, a unique person who can fulfill my destiny. The solitary “I” is not at all interesting because it is undeveloped and has not as yet spread its wings. Fear of authenticity causes arrested development, something that no one could commend to another.
I can offer two basic reasons why I am pro-life, though these reasons are intimately linked with each other. First, life is what distinguishes us from nonexistence. It is the gift without which we are nothing and can do nothing. Without life, we could not love, learn, hope, experience joy, discover meaning, or ever know the thrill of accomplishment. In fact, without life, there would be no “we.” A dark void would prevail, forever lacking any point of consciousness.
Therefore life must be treasured for it stretches out from nothingness and opens the way to everything that is good for us. To have crossed the barrier of nothingness into living beings is something for which we should be continually grateful.
Secondly, “life” is not something that I alone possess. Others have life and their lives should be equally treasured and cherished. Invoking the Golden Rule, I must acknowledge the value of all human life and not act against the lives of others as I would not want anyone to act against mine. I am grateful that I was not aborted. Consequently, I cannot approve the abortion of others. I express my gratitude for the gift of life by honoring its presence in everyone else who is living. Abortion is both a rejection of life and the choice to return to the uninhabitable void of nothingness.
Life may be difficult, but it is always open to rewarding possibilities. Helen Keller, despite being both blind and deaf, knew this as well as anyone. “Surely, it gives dignity to life,” she wrote, “to believe that we are born into this world for noble ends, and that we have a destiny beyond this physical life.”
We are of nobility. A noble task awaits us. Therefore, the easy, convenient life should not appeal to us. It is much easier not to do the dishes than to do them, not to clean the house, not to read a book, not to go the extra mile for a friend. But the path of least resistance leads to an impasse. What remains undone blocks our path and prevents further growth.
The philosopher George Santayana decried the “easy” life that rejects the effort required to be an authentic self when he stated that a “culture always tolerant, always fluid, smiling on every thing exotic and on everything new, sins against the principle of life itself.” We cannot become an authentic “who” unless we know and accept “why” we are given our life and how we should live. The “I” needs an identity that embraces responsibility, duty, effort, and love.
Political correctness, so popular in our world today, is a way of avoiding an authentic life. Therefore it fails to appreciate life’s intrinsic value. Moreover, its inspiration is not derived from a sense of gratitude, but from a desire for convenience. It does not honor the Golden Rule but desperately seeks rationalizations to justify its own inertia. It cannot be a basis for universal morality because it places morality on the flimsy and unreliable basis of political views that blow in the wind. Thus, it is willing to bend to whatever is fashionable and to succumb to the preferences of those who are in a position of power.
Political correctness is marketed quite effectively on the basis of its simplicity, immediacy, and expediency. It does away with serious thinking, frees us from the need to struggle for more humane ethical solutions, and promises practical results. Life, however, is not simple, nor does the quick fix always provide the best results. We need to take the time needed to find solutions that are humane and not necessarily expedient. As the poet Friedrich Hölderlin has reminded us, “The mindful God abhors untimely growth.”
In annunciating why I am pro-life, I am inviting those who do not view themselves in this way to understand that by serving life one is not imposing a private value but sharing a value that is universal. Life is the great common denominator of the living. We should embrace it and sing of its in glories and of its benefits in unison.

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