Archive for May, 2010

Humility, Arrogance, and Pride

I’ve learned a lot from people over the past few months when it comes to choice and abortion. The biggest thing I’ve gained is a better understanding of my own beliefs, and a clearer idea of where I personally draw the relevant lines. I’ve probably spent more time talking to people on the anti-abortion/anti-choice side than with those who I’m in basic agreement with, and everything I’ve seen and heard has only strengthened my convictions.

However, I recently got a huge reminder of why I’m on this side of the issue, courtesy of someone who has become probably my least favorite frequent commenter on Jill Stanek’s blog. He was responding to a sincere question of mine about some relevant bible passages. I admit, it took me a little while to get the message, because I’ve gotten into the habit of dismissing his personal and abusive missives. Here’s what he said:

I do not believe for a moment that you “really want to know”.

Instead of consulting and referring to a ‘book’ in which you place no trust or assess any value, why don’t you ask the ONE who gives you breath?

The ‘Author of Life’ holds the answers to all your questions and HE will indulge your contentious foolishness for a little while and if you are humble enough to acknowledge what you do not know, then HE will be gracious enough to fill in some blanks for you.

But be forewarned, with knowledge comes responsibilty and even HIS patience has it’s limit.

If you continue in your arrogance and pride HE will leave you to your own devices or as it is written, HE will allow you to return to your own vomit until you can humble yourself once again.

Enjoy the journey.

My initial response to this was, of course, to get a bit pissed off. And then, I laughed. Do you get the joke? It might be a little easier if I paraphrase for him a little:

I have all the answers and I’m better than you because I know the answers for everyone. If you can just be humble like me maybe someday you’ll know the answers (and then you can tell everyone else what the answers are for them, too)! Isn’t it great how smart I am to know all the answers? Oh, and if you don’t agree to walk the lines that I draw, you’ll lie in a pool of your own vomit until you come to your senses.

I’ve never understood how so many people mistake humility for its opposite.

Whatever any of us believe and no matter how strong a person’s faith may be, there is no human being on this earth who knows the answer to what many people see as the biggest questions of existence — is there a god? which god is THE god? is there one god, or many? what happens after death? what about reincarnation? — you get the idea. I don’t say this to belittle or minimize the strong faith of many, many people. There’s a reason we call it “faith” — because it has to be believed, and it cannot be known the way we know a fact. To develop an overarching philosophy that answers questions like these, faith is required because true knowledge is impossible.

And here we come around to where I started. I don’t talk all that much about my personal beliefs or to which religion I subscribe because I don’t really know the answer to those questions. I’m still looking for the answers that feel right and I haven’t yet found them. I have the humility to understand that I don’t have answers to the great questions of humanity, and that even if or when I may find answers that make sense to me, there is no way I can know them with any certainty — most definitely not with the certainty required to even attempt to force anyone else to fit into the mold I create.

Which is exactly why I am pro-choice. Even if I succeed in answering life’s big questions to my own satisfaction, I can’t answer them for anyone else. For many people, a lot of those big questions are involved when it comes to abortion, and their personal faith has everything to do with whether they call themselves “pro-choice” or “pro-life”. It has even more bearing on how each individual facing an unplanned or somehow unexpected pregnancy chooses to react to it.

Last week, in a thread about the new Oklahoma  law that protects doctors who lie to their patients about fetal defects, I shared a link to the personal stories at A Heartbreaking Choice, a website about and for families who chose (often difficult and late term) abortion after learning their children had severe defects. In response, I was given a link to Be Not Afraid, a site for and about families who faced similar circumstances and chose to give birth to their children. Both sites will absolutely break your heart, but what really struck me after reading both was that each of those families had a choice. Facing an impossibly difficult situation, each family had the right to choose how to act. (Not to mention the fact that because doctors actually told them something was wrong with their child, they had time to make that decision and to prepare for what was happening.) No one forced them into one choice or the other because one group of people believed their principles should override all else. Well, until recently, in Oklahoma.

There’s a reason that we call ourselves pro-choice and not “pro-abortion”: because it’s about giving each person the choice to decide for themselves. It’s about knowing we don’t have the answer for everyone. It’s about having one very specific kind of faith: that individuals can be trusted to choose what is right for themselves.

Let me finish up here with something that might surprise some readers. Suppose things were turned around, and abortion was a non-issue, but there was a big debate and a lot of disagreement about adoption. Suppose that much of society was totally against the very idea of giving up children for adoption. Let me tell you something that I know without a doubt:  the very same people you see fighting tooth and nail to protect abortion rights would be doing their all to protect the right of women to give up their children for adoption, not to mention the right of everyone to adopt children that they aren’t related to. This fight is not about abortion. It’s about choice. Plain and simple.

So thanks, “yor bro ken,” for reminding me what this is all about.