Happy MLK day. Several years ago I read MLK’s autobiography, and while I can’t say I am an MLK expert, I found his book to be… inspiring, and the man impressed me. (He was a Baptist preacher BTW- weren’t we just talking about Baptists?) Christianity gave us Martin Luther King Jr, Islam produced Malcolm X. Make of it what you will. (MLK was also influenced considerably by Gandhi who was, I believe, a Hindu) Anyhow if you have never watched his “I have a dream” speech, here it is. I cried the first time I watched it, believe it or not.
I’m not sure MLK would be really pleased with what has happened to his movement since his death. In my inexpert opinion, he really was a uniter, and so much of the so-called civil right movement of today seems to be focused on division. It’s sad.
So on a slightly related note, for several years I have been wanting to write out some thoughts I have had about… well I will tell you in a sec- and today seems like a good day for it. Here goes:
Another thing I am not an expert on is the Civil War, and the years and attitudes leading up to it. But, I’m not a total numskull there either- I have read several books on the subject, and I find that period of history very interesting indeed. And I think it is monstrously relevant to our time.
One thing that is continuously astonishing to me, as I look at the past, is how so many people were able to justify in their minds and souls that which is universally recognized by us as a deeply evil practice: Slavery. Half the country accepted and defended the idea that a human being could be property. Half the country not only put up with the practice, but, were deeply, even passionately convinced that they were in the right to do so. How?! People are very good at tricking themselves but what kind of person can convince themselves that slavery is ok? It wasn’t just a few mentally ill sickos- it was a topic that half the country was willing to go to war with the other half over. It was a topic debated with all gravity by the most respected thinkers of the time. Fredrick Douglas in his “Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglas” (he was a runaway slave, his book is awesome) states that it was commonly known among the slaves that you were far better off with an irreligious master than with a churchman for a master- because the religious masters were convinced on a religious level that slavery was a moral practice.
Question: If you had lived in those times, which side of the slavery issue would you have been on? If you were a white born in the south, are you the type of person who evaluates yourself honestly and deeply enough that you would have rejected slavery? Would you have been like Robert E Lee- a man who thought slavery was wrong, but fought to defend it anyway? Would you have been like Lincoln- believing slavery to be wrong, but who ran for president as a moderate- in essence saying “Yes its bad, but there is nothing we can do about it today“? Would you possibly have been an ardent abolitionist? Maybe you would you have been like John Brown?
You can’t really know what you would have done or thought, but I believe I have a yardstick that is a good indicator of what side of the slavery issue you would have been on and it is this:
Where do you stand on the abortion issue of in our time?
I believe that history will look back on abortion in our time with the same revulsion and horror that we regard slavery with in our time. I believe that if you are pro-choice now, you probably would have been all about states rights in the 1850’s.
Take a look with me at the arguments in favor of each- If you embrace one, you embrace the other.
1) A Negro is not exactly human, so we can treat it differently.
An embryo is not exactly human, so we can treat it differently.
2) While slavery is not desirable, it is an economic necessity. (Not true as it turns out)
A young girl would be justified in getting an abortion, so she can get an education, for reasons of economics.
3) A woman’s body is her property and she can do as she wishes with it.
A slave is a man’s property and he must be allowed to as he wishes with it.
Slavery was an issue that divided the country. Half thought it was wrong, half thought it was right. There was no middle ground acceptable to either side. The tragedy is that we found a middle ground anyway, for so long. And while it was debated, the atrocities continued to pile up. There are enough abortions committed in America to make a 9-11 disaster every week. Easily.
We have our John Browns today. He was the man who thought he had been ordained by God to start a war that would purge slavery from the land, so he just started shooting. It didn’t work. We have people who bomb clinics. Not a good idea.
But I do believe it is as pressing an issue in our time as the slavery issue was then. It’s been almost 150 since the war, and we almost have the mess cleaned up. That’s why I am as rabidly pro-life as I am. This next president may appoint Supreme Court judges with a clear eye on this issue- he will certainly appoint lesser court judges. And there are many other things a president can do- President Bush has refused to allow US tax money to fund programs that sponsor abortion, for example.
I’m not exactly saying vote Republican. What am I saying is this :
Evaluate yourself rigorously.