I find it helpful to make sense of the world through various dichotomies—good versus evil, light versus darkness, life versus death, existence versus non-existence, something versus nothing.
In the movie Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, tasked with implanting an idea in a sleeping target’s subconscious. To accomplish “inception,” he needs “the simplest version of the idea – the one that will grow naturally in the subject’s mind.”
Hypothetically, if we were to break into someone’s dream to convince them to be pro-life, I’d propose: “Life is good.”
It’s such a “Hallmarkish” sentiment (literally a T-shirt slogan) that its profundity gets lost.
I’m not making a trite remark about how life feels when you’re camping in the Rockies, but a metaphysical claim about the nature of human life.
Signs reading, “Smile! Your mom chose life!” and “Aren’t you glad your mom chose life?” probably contribute to this misinterpretation, by referencing fleeting emotion.
More problematically, when doing activism, a not-insignificant number of passersby have told me they wish they’d been aborted. They’re not all suicidal; some just imagine “things” would be easier had they not been born. Some are lukewarm, believing their existence or lack thereof makes no substantial difference.
The explosion of euthanasia is evidence that the survival instinct can be exhausted.
I understand that attitude. I really do.
There are many reasons for it—a crisis of meaning, first and foremost; mental illness; lack of social cohesion; the collapse of the family. Suffering is copious. Of course, you can give up… or you can choose hope over despair—to say, despite all that, life is good, that its roots go deeper.
I think of an Alberta abortionist who, for the anniversary of her father’s suicide, wrote, “No one, especially in the world we live in today, has a duty to live. No one. Get comfortable with that.”
There’s something very important here, something about seeing life as optional and death as an also valid choice. Aye, there’s the rub. It is a choice— to affirm what God has done in making you, to build up, and to be co-creators with Him or to reject this first gift, to destroy, to undo His works.
In a way, each of us can offer an affirmation of existence all together: that it’s better that there’s something rather than nothing, that the universe is full and not empty. Same with a womb.
If someone truly believes that their life is inherently good, then the next step is to universalize this idea, to see every human life as good.
I guess we can get even simpler and say that “God is good,” or maybe even just, “God is.” (Or because existence is also characteristic of God—simply “God.”)
The choice to give birth, even amidst painful circumstances, is not necessarily an assertion that everything is going to work out alright… To smile! And be glad!
Most people search for external proof of the declaration, “Life is good,” believing they need a string of luck or contentment in justification. Rather, it’s a conscious internal disposition.
When I wonder if God exists, I always come back to the question of whether life has meaning. Is everything I’ve experienced a pointless and random quirk in the chaos? My answer is “no.”
Our atmosphere is every bit comprised of immaterial ideas, choices, and dichotomies, as it is air and water. Every opposite asks why.
Thinking more deeply about the labels “pro-choice” and pro-life,” I’d admit we’re all pro-choice, in the sense that as human beings, we have free will. Making choices is an inescapable part of being human. To escape choice is to escape life.
Being pro-life is not only about being anti-abortion. It’s picking sides: life over death, existence over non-existence, something over nothing. To be or not to be.
No woman is writing a philosophical treatise with her abortion though, right?
Can we pretend that she is saying nothing more about the world and her own identity? That no greater credo or profession of belief is being made? That she’s being helped or empowered and there’s no message of profound pessimism in what her mother has given her? Nothing to see here, folks!
Alternatively, abortion is a referendum on life—her life, your life, their life.
What does life mean? Out of being, everything else arises—meaning, experiencing, doing, feeling, thinking, loving. Is that good?
Do we encourage and propagate it? Do we reject it? Do we have it abundantly or selectively?
To quote DiCaprio’s character, “An idea is like a virus, resilient, highly contagious. The smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you.”