Friday, May 29, 2020

The Politics of Being Human

I promised yesterday that I'd have something to say about the topic of abortion today, and you might have been confused because I let all of yesterday's post roll on. But I know that I lost some persons as soon as I mentioned it. I know that some eyes rolled, some mice clicked, and some screens shut down. Why did I have to go and make it political? 

To that, I ask, when did life become politics?

I don't care how much you legislate it, litigate it, campaign on it, vote on it, or whatever else you want to do with it, life isn't political. It's not a conservative or a liberal issue. It's not right or left. It's every breath for all of us, regardless of what you believe about it.

That's the issue. We've made life such a thing that it is whatever you believe about it, and then when we found out that we believe different things about it, we made it a political rallying cry. We figured that if there was this much difference in how we think about it, then it must just be politics. And somehow, we've come to the place where we can argue the finest details of life and death the same way we debate taxes, often coming to a point where we say, well, it just is what it is.

Which is, interestingly, what it always was to begin with. Just now, it's wrapped up in so many political ropes that we can't seem to get out of them.

It's the same kind of people politics we always run into, the fundamental issue that divides us politically on these ideas - do we start with the many or do we start with the one? Do we define life by the masses or do we define life by the instance? The truth is that we determine what we believe about life from where we start.

If life starts with the many, if our definitions are set by what is most common, by what we consider "normal," then it is easy for us to start judging life by where it fits on the continuum. A life that doesn't measure up to the mean standard of what life is is just not a life worth considering. This is how we get arguments for the abortion of babies with defects - they don't fit our standard of normal living, so their life is considered lesser. Alternately, we can say that if a life disrupts the standard of normal living in some meaningful way, then it is not a life; it is a nuisance. And this is how we justify the abortion of an unwanted child - the mother would have to live a life she doesn't want just because she "happened" to get pregnant. It would throw off her entire economy and send ripples through her community as her life changes. Therefore, we can call it an inconvenience and terminate it. Because we start with the many, and the one is disposable.

If life starts with the one, if our definitions are set by an uncompromising value on every instance of life, we're prone to make a choice to the opposite extreme. We no longer care about the economy of those involved, and we don't even think about the ripple waves through the community. We are willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to give every single life a fighting chance at its best, and in adopting this as our position, we are willing to force others to make the same sacrifices. This is the argument we hear from the pro-abortion crowd against a pro-life position: do you realize the cost to everyone else to try to secure this one (often "lesser" life) - the medical expenses, the social expenses, the educational expenses, all of the special stuff this life is going to require? Because we start with the one, we require the sacrifices of the many.

That's what politics does to the issue. It gives us a starting point and some kind of measuring system whereby we make our decisions based on what we value most.

But what if we just What if we refuse to let life be politics?

What if life doesn't start with the many or with the one, but starts with the miracle, with the improbable reality that despite all odds and obstacles, something sparked anyway and began to grow toward the fullness of its own promise?

That's what happens, you know. At the moment when the sperm meets the egg and fertilization occurs, there's this brilliant, instantaneous spark of life and a little note of music that comes out of the whole thing. There's this little celebration of the start of a new life. What if we just joined that celebration instead of jumping right in to judge it?

Because hear me: life isn't political. And even if it were, politics is simply often wrong.

Politics cannot predict or prescribe the best of human nature. Argue it all day. Put it on the floor. Write it in a bill. You cannot legislate or litigate or vote on love, sacrifice, grace, friendship. It's who we are as human beings, and you can't put it on one side of the aisle or another. All of the debate and discussion in the world cannot settle who this particular life will grow up to be, and the truth is that life often surprises us in ways we could never imagine.

Just as it surprises us in the beginning when, against all odds, it begins anyway.

So yes, I made a post about abortion, about the sanctity of life, but it wasn't political. No matter what you think of it. Because for me, life doesn't start with the one or with the many. It doesn't live on the left or the right. It's not calculated in its potentials or measured by an impact it hasn't even had yet.

Life starts with the miracle, with the improbable reality that despite all odds and obstacles, something sparked anyway and began to grow toward the fullness of the promise nestled within it. 

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