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ABORTION AMBIVALENCE IS NOT AN OPTION

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Those of you who have followed this blog for a while (thank you!) know that I love politics. Probably too much. It’s an addiction, like football or baseball for some people. I follow all the stats, watch every “game,” know most of the players. This makes sense, since I lived and breathed politics during my thirty-year career as an environmental lobbyist on Capitol Hill. 

But it goes deeper than that. I grew up in a well-informed family steeped in the study of world history and engaged in current events. My father worked for the CIA and my older brother campaigned for Bobby Kennedy. Politics was always on the menu at our dinner table, for better or for worse. Some of my fondest family memories involve all of us gathered around our black & white TV set, watching political conventions. I thought this was normal.

MUST WE TALK ABOUT ABORTION?

All this to say that you may or may not have noticed that there is one hot political issue I have never written about in the ten (!!) years I’ve been blogging. Abortion. I hate the topic, and I hate how both sides use it to raise money, win elections, and stoke division and outrage. Such political posturing and messaging is hurtful and/or insulting to women. Abortion is a deeply personal and intimate issue, and every woman I know who has struggled with the decision of whether to terminate an unwanted pregnancy has been through hell, or at least purgatory.

You are not “pro-life” if you don’t support programs that help low-income women who decide to give birth to and raise their child. The GOP has always been intent on shredding the social safety net that provides healthcare, education, and nutrition for these families. You are not a “good Christian” if you verbally or otherwise abuse beleaguered woman and their doctors. 

Likewise, when Democratic strategists decided to adopt the slogan “I (heart) abortion,” I was aghast. Who loves abortion, even if you think of it only as a medical procedure? What a slap in the face to the millions of women who have faced that decision! 

I sometimes want to scream, “Shut up, everybody just shut up!”

And so, I have largely shut up. I remember once trying to cross Massachusetts Avenue with my fellow liberals when a large group of “Right to Life” marchers was wending its way up the street waving pictures of bloody fetuses. My friends were apoplectic. I stupidly said what I was thinking, which was that these people were being manipulated by radical right extremists, but that if a person truly believed that babies were being murdered, shouldn’t they be marching in the streets? 

Oops. That opinion was not allowed. 

THANK YOU KANSAS, FOR SPEAKING UP

I’ve never fit into a proper box. When abortion has been on the ballot in my state, I have voted for choice, but never enthusiastically. It wasn’t “my” issue. Over the years, my ambivalence has meant that I’ve not always been supportive of women friends when they needed me most. I deeply regret that. I hope that I am a more compassionate and less judgmental person than I used to be. 

My opinions and feelings have evolved over time, informed by science, my spiritual beliefs, and my experiences. But that’s the point, isn’t it? MY feelings, MY opinions, MY understanding of spirit and science. It is not MY right to tell anyone else how they should feel or behave, most especially when it comes to their own bodies.

And it’s certainly not the right of the government or a specific religion! Not in America. 

The Supreme Court’s extreme political activism means that I no longer have the luxury of laying low, of being “understanding of both sides.” Nope. I am wiser now. Better late than never, I guess. Ambivalence is not an option. Silence is not an option.

So today I am writing to say THANK YOU to the voters of Kansas. I especially want to thank those who may have been confused, ambivalent, or evolving on the issue of abortion, but who voted to protect a woman’s right to choose. Because in the end, it’s not about abortion and what you think about abortion. It is about abortion RIGHTS. And our basic rights are at stake. So thank you for showing up when you could have stayed home. Thank you for not shutting up. 

Connecting to “The Other” — A Daily Prompt

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“The happiest life has the greatest number of points of contact with the world, and it has the deepest feeling and sympathy with everything that is,” according to the father of modern horticulture. I have to share that with you, because I was told to do so.

The WordPress Daily Prompt asks:  “Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?”

Daily Prompt: Quote Me | The Daily Post.

DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO

I have mixed feelings about the WordPress Daily Prompts:

  • I don’t need new ideas to write about — my problem is that everything in the universe prompts me to write, and I have to pull myself away from the computer. I have enough I’d like to share without some amorphous power in the cloud-sky giving me suggestions.
  • This makes clear another issue I have with the Daily Prompts : I am not a fan of authority figures, and YOU CAN”T TELL ME WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT! I know this is my baggage, but there you have it.
  • I also don’t like following a crowd; I fancy myself a one-of-a-kind blogger, which is, of course, ridiculous. Not only that, but I also have a great need to belong that is diametrically opposed to what I just said about not being part of a crowd of Daily Prompt writers.

Anyway, enough of my stuff spilling out onto the page. I do love that quote from Liberty Hyde Bailey, so I thought I’d share.

Liberty Hyde Bailey
Photo: Wikipedia

PLANTS, HUMANS AND OTHER ANIMALS

“The happiest life has the greatest number of points of contact with the world, and it has the deepest feeling and sympathy with everything that is.”

I believe this to be absolutely true. Although the deep feeling and sympathy can sometimes lead to grief, I do not believe that this conflicts with happiness. Because grief and compassion make us more fully human, I think that it ultimately results in a deeper, more genuine happiness — joy.

It’s fabulous that a horticulturalist said this. I imagine he was talking, at least in part, about plants. Still, his sentiments have caused me to murder more plants because they drove my decision to become a vegetarian. I want to walk gently on the earth, and cause as little pain and suffering as I possibly can, beginning with sentient beings. (Sorry, zucchini.)

I once believed that I had “too many” friends because I was too busy. But God kept putting new people in my life that I found fascinating, beautiful, comforting, or fun. I once went on a retreat with a bunch of other people in their 30s and 40s, and one woman said to me, “Let’s pretend we’re Buddhist nuns, OK?” I mean, how could you NOT want to be friends with that person?

File:Taiwanese Buddhist Nun Black Robes.jpeg

Buddhist Nun
Photo: Creative Commons

I now realize that my particular personality is created to have a great number of points of contact. It is how I connect with the many aspects of the Divine. What a wonderful, diverse world we live in! I have had the incredible joy of swimming with dolphins and sea turtles, harvesting spring asparagus and peas, debating spiritual truths in my book group, and being deeply in love with a musician, a historian, and a woodworker. Seriously – I am uber-blessed and intend to keep experiencing as much of life as God cares to show me. I just pray that my eyes and my heart will remain open.

MAKING PEACE

Because I have signed on to be a Blogger for Peace, I will warn you that these points of contact complicate life immensely. Not only could you find yourself eschewing veal or factory-bred chicken, you might have to start paying attention to what your government is doing. For instance:

  • How do we choose between killing Palestinian children and Israeli children? Do we just adopt policies and produce weapons that will kill both, to even things out?
  • U.S. drones are murdering countless innocent children without Americans risking as much as the finger that pressed the launch button. How un-connected can one be? What percentage of your tax money goes towards building drones?
  • Abortion: wherever you are, has it occurred to you that the people on “the other side” care deeply about the life and well-being of others? Could you imagine really listening to them, instead of judging and condemning them?

~I wish you joy, peace, and connection in 2013~

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