As a Catholic, I am often dismayed by some groups who exhibit an unchristian attitude towards others while simultaneously claiming to fight to preserve Christianity. Often, these attempts at preservation can be hateful and harmful to minority groups. This is particularly true in the case of Muslims, who are often broad-stroked as terrorist sympathizers and declaimed as devil-worshippers without proper research being done on the complexity of Islamic history, culture, and spirituality.
Some of us have allowed ourselves to build up walls of resentment and to cultivate a deep distrust of things we do not understand, accompanied by an unwillingness to try and learn more about them. This, interestingly enough, is also an element used in the propaganda campaign of Islamist terrorist organizations like ISIS, who must paint a black-and-white ideological war in their terms in hopes of deluding the masses into hating and killing one
another for their own ends. It should be kept in mind that even the sincerest of moral convictions can be twisted into excuses for character assassination and dehumanization that had the potential of leading to even more perverted forms of thought and ultimately explode into violence. Within the pro-life movement, of which I am honored to be a part, this can happen through the demonization of politicians who have shown support and maintained the continuation and expansion of legalized abortion, including Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Justin Trudeau.
In the midst of forwarding our cause, some of us seem to have forgotten that being truly pro-life is being pro-humanity, and for Christians, remembering to see the reflection of God within others, no matter who or what they are. This includes remembering the dignity of immigrants, refugees, welfare recipients, single mothers, prisoners, minority groups, and politicians to whom we are opposed.
Being pro-life is meant to be an all-encompassing ethic which we live by, not an excuse to make objects of our fiercest contempt. It is speaking the truth, but always with love. It is about not always questioning whether someone deserves your help, but rather giving without rancor or reserve. It is about recognizing the multi-faceted kinship of all peoples, Caucasian, African, Arabian, Hispanic, Native American, and beyond. It is about being able to view every single human being as priceless, and being in awe of that pricelessness, and be willing to safeguard that pricelessness every day of our lives. It is this ethic which all of us, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and beyond, should be moving closer and closer towards fully embracing both in our personal lives and the policies we support.
That, to me, is what being pro-life is all about. It is about unity and empathy, justice and equality. It is about recognizing that injustice against one is injustice against all, and that no one can claim the right to rob the rights away from another. It should be the dead end of “us” vs. “them” scenarios which turn human beings into poisoned skittle statistics and fail to uphold all their the intrinsic, God-given rights to have life, and live it abundantly, in freedom, security, and the ability to pursue happiness.
Sometimes I fear we have allowed our “cause” to blind us to our cause. We have let ourselves hate in a “safe space” and become melting snowflakes in the face of the unknown. We dare not think that those people could possibly be like us, and in doing so we also shut off any meaningful discussion in the areas where our differences are rooted. We can come to no terms; we can understand nothing.
If we give into this, in any way, shape, or form, aren’t we doing exactly what we in the pro- life movement are pointing the finger at? Dehumanization?
For Catholics, Lent is a season of penitence, cleansing, and reflection. It is time to resist. Let’s start by resisting the dehumanizing urges that steal away our proper sight. This Lent, I want to give up those walls that bar me from my God and from my neighbor, no matter what my neighbor’s skin color or religious belief or lifestyle choice or story of origin. I want to give up anything that hinders me from loving unconditionally, in truth and charity. I want to give up myself for the sake of the other.