Charlottetown. What can a grade school drop-out do to promote strong Christian values in a community? Quite a lot, if Ken Biso is any example.
As soon as he understood what abortion was about, working to protect the unborn child became his most important volunteer activity.
“Nature itself tells me this is a human being. Nothing else. Nothing less. I have no choice but to speak out,” h says.
He calls radio open lines. He contacts politicians regularly to say, “I’m canvassing on behalf of those unable to speak for themselves.” He attends many meetings. He started, and still hosts, a talk show on Community Cablevision.
He carried a cross through downtown Charlottetown to protest the Supreme Court decision striking down the abortion law in January 1988.
His many letters to the Editor are familiar to most Islanders.
“The penalty for taking or destroying an eagle’s egg is up to $3,000 or six months in jail,” he once wrote. “The penalty for taking an unborn child’s life is nothing. In fact, people get paid lots of money for it. There’s something wrong here!”.
He believes that pro-lifers should avoid using the word ‘fetus’, because it can camouflage what really happens in abortion. “But no one can hide behind the words when you speak about the ‘child in the womb’,” Whenever someone mentions a view point on abortion he points out that “The child in the womb is not a viewpoint. It’s a fact. It’s a human being.”
He shocked many people when he carried a cross through the downtown streets, for small-town Canada finds the out-of-the-ordinary disturbing. Ken Biso thinks the Supreme Court action deserved a shocking response.
The media covered his ‘way of sorrows’. He didn’t call the CBC “because they’re in a different world; they don’t understand pro-lifers.” But they do recognize a good story, and his walk was beamed across the nation that night.
“Everyone knows what a cross stands for; so they knew what I was saying. Some may even have realized that only the Cross can defeat an evil that permits us to pull a child out of its mother’s womb and tear it apart,” he comments.
Told that pictures had also appeared in Ottawa papers, he responded, “What better place for a cross to be seen.”
Thirteen years ago Ken became concerned about the superficial quality of programs available on local community TV. So he offered to develop a program on more weighty matters.
Although he had no previous experience, he was soon hosting a weekly half-hour talk show. For a number of years it focused primarily on aspects of the abortion issue. Today it also addresses other issues from a Christian perspective.
From the beginning he has had the assistance of his brother, Bruce MacLean, an Island Cablevision staff member who directs and edits the interviews.
“Experience and education are not the most important things. So don’t be afraid to try something like this,” he says. “You have to accept that your part may not be perfect, and for the rest you just rely on God. He is there all the time.”
Ken knows he is fortunate to have the support of his two daughters, Rosanna and Priscilla, both engaged, and his wife, Lestina. “The whole family cares deeply about the child in the womb. No matter what I say or do on behalf of the child, I can be sure Lestina will be behind me 100 per cent.”
Born 49 years ago, Ken Biso made little progress in school because of a learning disability scarcely recognized in those days. So at 10 he entered the work force.
He was an orderly for several years. “I’m glad I had a chance to see the suffering of others, and to learn to give part of myself to other human beings,” he says.
Foundation in faith
Ken’s grandmother brought him up, along with 15 children of her won. “She welcomed me into her home and her heart, because she cared so much about her family that she could love her child’s offspring just as much as her own. She did everything with loce,” he remembers.
The family was very poor, and life became even harder when Mrs. Biso’s husband died while several of the children were still quite young. To make ends meet she worked long hours in the kitchen of a local restaurant for $12 a week. And still she made time to help outsiders and to teach the family their catechism around the kitchen table.
When evil gets a hold, It’s hard to pry it loose.
But God is guiding us and working in us all.”
Those evenings gave her grandson the strong faith foundation that inspires and guides his pro-life work.
He is saddened that today many clergymen of all faiths have lost the principles his grandmother stressed so strongly. “Some are so intent on serving people that they forget about serving God. So they end up justifying premarital sex, abortion, homosexuality and other kinds of sin.”
Ken is concerned that professionals we trust, such as doctors, counselors and teachers, can seriously mislead us if they are not living according to spiritual values. He believes young people are especially at risk, “particularly if they are not living in the spiritual realm themselves. They may not realize the evil of the activities they’ve been d4awn into.”
The struggle to protect the child in the womb will be long, he predicts. “When evil gets a hold, it’s hard to pry it loose. But God is guiding us and woking in us all.”
Does Ken believe all this effort on behalf of the unborn makes a difference?
“It does to me,” he replies.
“I am personally responsible for answerable to God for how I use my life. Even if my efforts don’t make a difference to Canada, or to the pro-life battle, it makes a difference to me if I stand for what I should stand for. Will it affect anybody? I don’t know. I hope so.”