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Pro Life and Pro Choice: The Problem with Words

Published on 01/04/16
by randy


The meaning of words is in the person. Perhaps one of the strongest, most heavily loaded word combinations are labels taken in the battle between those who are against abortion and those who are for personal choice in this matter. For me, pro life carries the meaning of ‘reverence for life’. I think most of us aspire to this. We’ve been exposed to the Golden Rule, we’ve seen how the loss of this reverence seldom works out well. I doubt any of us, deep down, takes life for granted. I suspect none of us is arrogant enough to think we’re responsible for the creation of what we call our ‘being’. As we learn more about the complexities of the human body we’re further humbled to the mystery of it all. Science and most religions have instructed us in the consciousness of interdependence and the illusion of separateness. It’s now quite apparent that when we hurt another or hurt the gift of our environment, we hurt ourselves. So to me, pro life means an utmost respect to the gift of life presented. The idea of a truly spiritual life is captured in the words from A Path With Heart:

Living a spiritual life does not demand high ideals or noble thoughts. It requires our caring and kind attention to our breath, to our children, to the trees arounds us, and to the earth with which we are so interconnected. p. 296

The reverence for life recognizes the mystery and the desire to forever deepen our understanding of one another. Pro life necessarily holds an open mind to the unknown. A deeper listening is required to meet another’s suffering as our own. The mind of compassion is the mind of pro life and pro choice. It’s a mind that has the courage to enter ‘I don’t know land’, seeking alignment of the head and heart. I am not pro abortion and I am not anti abortion. I am not immune from fear, greed and the illusion that I’m separate from your pain. And for me, the real meaning of pro life means developing a vow to support each other through our life challenges. And if I’m not strong enough to do this, at least I can do what I can to not cause further harm.

For me, pro life means that when I encounter the opportunity to participate in the end of physical life, I have awareness that clearly shows these intentions come from love rather than fear. These are some of the most difficult of life decisions. Anyone who’s put down a pet from love knows this. When we witness death from fear, anger and revenge we all feel like we’ve lost a piece of ourselves. When love for the person/animal/plant moves us to these decisions, we’re more careful with our thoughts and actions.

Some have defined ‘sin’ as missing the mark. The mark is love. When we fail to meet our brothers and sisters in compassion, we betray science and our religious mandates to love one another as ourselves because we are each other. There simply can’t be black and white answers in this arena as we argue with one another on our ideologies. These matters of giving and taking life need deep listening and heartfelt conversation from the heart that carries reverence for life. Each moment is eternity in these matters. Each moment comes with decisions best made from the very center of one’s being.

A true pro life stance carries a very strong “yes” to a bigger belonging. It necessarily involves a life dedicated to providing opportunities for all peoples to participate in the beauties that life has to offer. Pro life decisions have given us the pause and respect to steward our parks, to aim for health care and education for all peoples, to receive refugees in need, to aim for housing and food for those in need, to humanize our justice system with rehabilitation programs, to move to sustainable energy practices that minimize harm to our environment, to recognize our planetary interconnection and eliminate threats to the continued health of our environment. Pro life is what drives innovation and collaboration in stewardship to the health of all things and beings, etc. To me, that’s what pro life means.

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