November 26, 2008

Anti-Abortion and Pro-War…what gives?

What would Jesus drive..? He wouldn’t. He’d ride.

The below article was published in 2006 for New West:

Abortion is everyone’s favorite political issue. But in daily life, it’s a non-issue.

Ask a deep-South candidate why he’s running for something, he’ll say “Pro-Life” before you can say ‘knee-jerk,’ or even just ‘jerk.’ Ask him why he (because, yes, he’s a he—over 108% of Republican candidates are men) supports The War, on the other hand, and suddenly our Right-to-Kill is a good thing. Death Penalty? He likes that, too.

So if we’re not talking about a Right-to-Life, just what are we talking about?

Abortion is a made-up issue. It’s divisive, and it’s meant to be, and anyone who plays the Choice v. Life game is playing a losing game. It’s a game meant to keep everyday Americans and everyday Christians (not the Far-Right) voting against one another.

Fact is, 73.76% of Americans could get behind something like the following: abortion is sometimes the best of two bad choices. Most non-ideologically-drunk Americans support the woman’s right to a safe (legal) abortion. No one supports the use of abortion as a casual form of contraception—and, of course, it’s such a invasive procedure, no one ‘uses’ it frivolously. It’s a last resort, as it should be.

Fact is, if Anti-Abortioners were so concerned about the as-yet unborn fetus, their concern would extend to the babe’s infancy—to education, to welfare. But, politically-speaking, it doesn’t. Fact is, Republicans are the ones cutting welfare, supporting ‘wars of liberation’ (Mao, anyone?) that cost $1 billion a day while leaving All Too Many Children Behind (I think of that bumper sticker re: the Air Force holding a bake sale. I’d buy a cookie).

Fact is, war sucks. Or, as General William Tecumseh Sherman said (and he knew something about it, much more than you or I do) war is hell. Or, as FDR famously intoned,

I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen two hundred limping exhausted men come out of line—the survivors of a regiment of one thousand that went forward forty-eight hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.

Now, hating war is every liberal hippy’s favorite pastime—that and voting for candidates, if we vote at all, who can’t win anything but moral victories.

Chögyam Trungpa, the Tibetan guru who brought Buddhism to the West in the early ‘70’s, once said that martyrdom isn’t good enough. He said that it’s much better for Goodness to actually Win. Look at Jesus. He lived a life that continues to inspire millions of people, thousands of years later. But after he was killed, the Church that inherited his example of humility, of love, of compassion promptly decked itself out in gold and velvet, prosecuted Crusades in its name, and to this day uses His name as the ‘password’ to Heaven (as in, if you don’t accept Him as your Lord and Savior, you’re going to Hell—yes, ‘proper’ Christians actually believe that Jews, Muslims, rock climbers and other heathens are going to burn in flames for all eternity—a well-known fact that never ceases to amaze me).

So, of course, we’d of been better off if He hadn’t been martyred. That would’ve been a wonderful thing. A legacy of hatred and hurt would never have started up.

Hatred? Hurt? Now that’s not Jesus’s faith. Jesus was about love, not passwords. Jesus was about compassion for lepers and poor folk, not sinning and burning in hell. Jesus was about understanding and inclusion, not gay-bashing and Hummer-driving. There’s a reason ‘kids these days’ think more about video games and iTunes and sex and fashion than they do Church on Sunday. And it ain’t entirely the kids’, nor their parents’, fault. A church that preaches hate will fade, fade away. Hate’s boring.

The key seems to be to find a sort of middle ground, both politically and religiously. For whatever side of the aisle we sit on, we’re all Americans—as Senator John McCain, Congressman Mark Udall and too few others like to remind us. That all sounds nice, but get a few feminists and Pro-Lifers in a room together, close the door, and try and come to a compromise everyone can live with. It’s tough stuff.

My magazine, elephant, recently held its first ‘ecofashionshoot.’ 25 gorgeous men and women, ages 2 through 65, gathered and preened and posed and, eventually, forgot about the camera entirely. We got some good shots. It was a good time. But there was a black lining on our silver cloud. One of our ecomodels had wanted to bring her granddaughter along. But she wasn’t allowed. The father of the child—a gentleman I’m on friendly terms with—didn’t want his babe having anything to do with a magazine that had featured the Dalai Lama on its cover. He’s a devout Christian. That’s great—more of us ought to be devout, these days. But when devotion to a faith or ideology hardens—when ‘others’ become ‘bad’—we’ve crossed a line. We’re missing the point of our own faith. Now, I know my friend meant well—he loves Jesus, and wants to stay true to that love. But be careful, y’all—for love admits no boundaries. You let in just a little, you’re asking for it.

So let’s forget about being right, just for a second. Let’s move an inch or two toward one another. Let’s decide that being right isn’t quite as important as being together. I will if you will.

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