Monday, February 28, 2011

The Bloody Path

The Civil War was many things: a referendum, a reckoning, a revolution, a restoration. The match that lit the fuse to the powder keg was slavery; it was not a new fight, but one that had been simmering since The Revolution. If slavery was the match, the actual powder was the right of States to determine their own destinies, within the confines of the Union. Even after it was over, the shards of the conflict still rained down on the nation, and do so even to this day. The Civil War did not begin in 1861, and it did not end in 1865. The historical events from Fort Sumter to Appomattox are well known; the underlying forces, which continue to this day, are less well understood.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Entitlement Problem

Some amongst us, in this time of economic crisis, refuse to play fair. They stand firm in their refusal to do what is best for the rest of us. They whine about the inequity and unfairness of being asked to make sacrifices, and ask why they should be asked to part with even more of their money. They flex their muscles, wielding the only power they have, trying to stave off the rising tide of ill sentiment toward them from some corners of the nation. The conspire to bring government to a halt, rather than be placed in the position of having to give more than their fair share.

I speak, of course, of the ultra-wealthy conservatives in America.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No One Is "Pro-Abortion"

No one really is in love with the idea of ending a potential human life, and if they are, they are sick. Sadly, though, a fetus comes about through many circumstances that prove to be disadvantageous or disquieting to the woman carrying it. Her birth control may have failed, or she may have forgotten to take it. She may not be on birth control, and her partner may have been so callous and unfeeling as to have sex with her without taking precautions himself. Worst of all, she may be the victim of rape, implanted with the seed of a vicious and violent felon.

Those of us who may never be in such a position, or may never be forced to endure those circumstances, have little right to pass judgment on those women who are. We have even less of a right to limit the choices they do have. No matter what we may think of the medical procedure, abortion is an alternative, and must be, for the safety and well-being of a woman who is not planning on being a mother, or may be, but not at that time.

If you are a woman, and you choose never to avail yourself of abortion because it offends your moral sensibilities, that is you right. But your right to refuse the choice does not give you the right to take the choice from other women. They must decide for themselves what is best; that is the law of this land. If you are a man, you will never know the uncomfortable feeling of being in the position of being pregnant when you are not ready to be, and so your opinion on the matter means little. If you attempt to enforce your opinion on others, you are violating a woman's sovereign right, endowed her by her creator, to make such a choice for herself.

In the end, no one can really "ban" abortion. A woman, faced with a choice placed on her by circumstance, will simply find whatever expedient is necessary if it comes to it, to end her pregnancy. No doubt in a back room of some dingy building, with non-sterile equipment, at the hand of a "doctor," or perhaps in her own bathroom, with any of a number of wicked implements. Most likely, she will die, too, and so a potential life and an actual life will be lost, all due to the obstinacy of people who would impose their morality on everyone, contrary to the spirit and law of the nation.

I stand with all women, in giving them their full rights to their body and what is to be done with it. I condemn all those who would take those rights from women, as callous, unfeeling, and ignorant. I will not stand for a country that seeks a return to a time when women were chattel, little more than ornamentation and slaves, to be passed around as representations of political power, or to become baby-making machines. The pronouncement "be fruitful, and multiply," was not intended to sentence women to a life of constant pregnancy, simply to fill up the world, for no God would ask a people to multiply beyond what they could support, simply to do so.

This is only the edge of the abyss -- what starts here with the denigration and dehumanization of women will spread, and we will devolve into the mire of the Dark Ages, frightened by shadows, fearful of the unseen and unknown, fighting over scraps. We must move forward, not backward. We must move beyond the petty, toward the betterment of life for all of us, not just those who live a life of privilege. We are not human, where we allow poverty, hunger, disease, and ignorance to flourish still, while we have them means to eradicate them. The war against the right to abortion goes far beyond that simple act; it is the first step toward a precipice from which humankind may find it hard to retreat once it is too much further down the path. We have a choice -- reject the dogma of the past, or wallow in it. I choose the former. I choose humanity.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Whose Life Are You Trying To Save?

To say abortion is a contentious issue is to make a pronounced understatement. To say that some people believe with all their heart that a fetus is a fully-formed and functional person from the moment of conception is a given. To say that it is a medical procedure is often glossed over. To say that both sides of the "debate" often cannot see the other's side clearly goes without saying.

What does it say, however, that a state that leans heavily in the direction of conservatism, is willing to codify the killing of an abortion doctor as being perfectly legal?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Whose Side Are You On, Anyway?

Any person is like an onion -- you have to peel back the layers to find what is really underneath the exterior. Of course, unlike an onion, the layers are artificial where people are concerned. Those things which are used as yardsticks and signposts as to who or what you are, are hung there by others, and, sadly, we tend to believe them after a time when they have been used repeatedly to describe us. We look in the mirror and see only the layers, and not what lies beneath.

When society does this, it is only with the intent to ensure that we can differentiate "us" from "them": the famous from the average, the beautiful from the plain, the lithe from the heavy, the light from the dark. Society divides people up finely, into smaller and smaller gradations, as if trying to fit people to some Dewey Decimal System of humanity, as if attributes tell the whole story of what a person is and what they represent to the whole. When you can apply a name or a tag or an epithet to another, you can keep them at bay, avoid having to treat them as a human being with feelings, emotions, and, above all, value.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lost America

We are a people who have lost our way, in the rush to buy the latest television, or fight the latest war, or win the latest election. We are so far removed from the nation in its youth, the struggle for freedom and independence, the surge of new land and new opportunities, the unrest that almost split the country in two, that we wax nostalgic about things and times that were important in their day, but have no place in modern America. We act as there is some fundamental flaw in our country, some movement bent on keeping us from our full potential, some dark, creeping cancer eating away at us.

There is -- we are that cancer.