Tag Archives: war

What is “Pro-Life”?

What is a “culture of life”? How do you define it? When someone speaks of a “culture of life” or “pro-life” agenda, it is usually assumed that abortion is the topic at hand. Abortion is not the only issue that pertains to the sanctity of life. If someone wants to literally be a pro-life voter, there are a wide variety of policies that that moniker supports.

How about starting with an easy one? The death penalty. Is there anything more clearly pro-death? There is no logic in calling yourself “pro-life” when you support the death penalty. If you support the death penalty you are saying that you are morally ok with not only killing people, but letting the (fallible) state decide which people to kill with your blessing.  Perhaps someone has other moral reasons they can cite for supporting the death penalty, but they can’t still call themselves “pro-life” with any integrity.

Here’s another gimme – war. War = death, it’s kind of the modus operandi for winning a war. Aside from the direct killing of soldiers by soldiers, with war comes countless life altering tragedies and injuries. The pollution of war equals death to those living things around it. The corruption inside war equals death for those willing to take risks for money or power. The private contractors are let loose to roam lawlessly across the land, bringing violence and oppression. Living in an occupied land means living in fear; simply being alive is not the same as living. Please don’t call yourself pro-life if you support war, especially pre-emptive ones wars of aggression.

Is it part of a culture of life to allow corporations to pollute our water supplies, harm our animals, disrupt natural systems, and poison our food? Is it life giving to look away as humans are abused and exploited in the name of profit? All life relies on a certain level of purity to our air, land, and water, there is nothing – no industry, no product, no privilege – that makes it acceptable to poison us all.  If you don’t believe in protecting the sanctity of nature and those natural systems that sustain life, you are not pro-life.

Universal health care is pro-life. We can live our lives when our basic health care needs are attended to. Unchecked pain, fear of debt, and exclusive access – hallmarks of a health care system that puts profits before patients – is not pro-life (it’s pro-profit). In fact, someone in a dismal health care situation is more likely to consider numbing pain or their reality in an unhealthy way.

Humans are not born to be slaves, we each want to carry on with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When corporations turn us into slaves, or indentured servants, or take away our dignity, or abuse us, or force us to work against our morals, we are alive, yet not. When a company sucks the life out of you so you have nothing for your family, no time for community, and no living wage, they are not working on a pro-life agenda. Like stories you can read from our own history of slavery, the plantation owners were all for more babies, they couldn’t wait for those babies to become commodities. In those stories you can read the anguish of the enslaved parents at bringing another life into the world under hellish conditions, knowing that their offspring will be treated like expendable chattle. An unregulated capitalist dynamic promotes death to humanity.

Guns may be useful in providing sustenance for families – we are at the top of the food chain and all humans (even vegans) have some amount of “death” in their diet (think of the earthworms). It is part of our natural evolution to eat meat, but guns aren’t a part of our natural evolution and they are used for so much more. Guns can and have brought about human death on an epidemic scale. Handguns and automatic weapons are designed to kill people (sure target practice is fun but you don’t need steel bullets to pierce a piece of paper-that is not its end use). Those working to limit the availability of guns and frequency of human death caused by guns would earn the “pro-life” moniker more readily than those that believe all guns should be available and unrestricted. Gun lovers want to be prepared kill; killing is pro-death.

Again, even with acknowledging our omnivorous tendencies, humans often kill animals unnecessarily. Animal testing, environmental devastation, cruelty, or entertainment. If you are a polluter, a trophy hunter, a sadist, an eater of factory farm animals, or a supporter animal testing – you can’t say you are pro-life. There are humane standards for how to treat animals – even how to end their lives if we are going to eat them. Treating animals humanely is pro-life.

The joining of a sperm and egg is a special moment in time – especially if that sperm and egg are going to unite, go full term and become a person. Eggs are fertilized round the globe, round the clock, in every species that procreates via sex.  All of those moments are special if they create another being. For some of us, we want to protect all of those zygotes – at least human ones, for others, we want to focus on the living breathing people that have already arrived. Those that are pro-choice may believe in the sanctity of life just as much as those who are anti-abortion; they could also claim the title of “pro-life”.

It is pro-life to help moms-to-be get nutrition and health care.

It is pro-life to help mom-to-be get educated.

It is pro-life to ensure the baby has adequate nutrition and child care.

It is pro-life to see that all families are earning living wages for their work.

It is pro-life to provide education for the child.

It is pro-life to require unpolluted space to raise a family.

It is pro-life to stop war.

It is pro-life to recognize that life is much, much more than anything that could be held in a petri dish.

Anti abortion advocates work for what they believe in, we should respect that they are following their own moral code at the very least. For many of them, the struggle is a spiritual calling, which is an honorable quest. However, a heightened level of sanctimony tends to come with the “pro-life” label and it is part of why this debate is so polarizing. Pro-choice advocate are not the opposite of pro-life, far from it. Many times those same advocates also don’t like war, guns, pollution, or our grave corporate machinery. Recognize that though your idea of life – no matter which “side” of the debate you’re on – does not have a monopoly on supporting life. We need to break this frame and call anti-abortion activists exactly that – unless they want to consider the entire roster of ways our state sanctions killing. Voting “pro-life” means voting in the interest of all living humans, not just one issue.

Pro-choice could be broken down in a similar manner. Both labels, “pro-life” and “pro-choice”, are the products of marketing an idea. They are good hooks, but inaccurate. Let’s use our hearts and brains to talk to one another about these issues important to us.

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…And they’re off!

News has seemingly ceased to exist in this country. We are submerged by tales of the GOP presidential race. Every flub, utterance, Gotcha!, and implication is blazoned across headlines as if we were talking about being at war. Wait, we are still having two undeclared wars – one with our troops in Afghanistan and another by proxy – lawless (but American) contractors in Iraq. I suppose progress was made when our troops were withdrawn last month – what?! Our troops were withdrawn from Iraq?!?! Why didn’t anyone say anything? I heard more about Kim Kardashian’s tweets.

Am I the only one that notices our American ADD? Aren’t there still yellow ribbon car magnets adorning our countries minivans?  A few years ago if you didn’t make a visual statement to the world about your support of the troops you were assumed to be a terrorist sympathizer. These days our so-called news is shoving sweater vests, hair helmets and old racist newsletters at us fast and furious. They are desperate – as are the campaigns – to keep attention focused on the Republican race no matter what triviality is the “headline” of the day. Why this is the way things are is simple – a tense conflict captures the interest more easily than a deflated pull out where our mission, presence, and actions were never fully explained. One thing we all understand is that we did not “win”.  I would bet if you took an informal poll of Americans, you would get a different synopsis on the war from each person.  This country is using a grab bag of suspicions and accusations as their military morality.  Sadly our legislative and Executive branches are using a similar logic in performing their duties.

The frame has been set: The story is about a GOP race and if you are not on the cutting edge of that story, you are leaving an audience (and advertisers) behind. As another sinister layer this particular frame is especially lucrative to a certain set – folks who run campaigns (obviously), folks who run ads accompanying news, folks who own media that would like particular candidates or philosophies to prevail in favor of their business, folks who would like to see attention go to ANYONE but Occupy Wall St., the list could go on. When we ask questions outside of the story du jour – like about war or social justice – we are seen as killjoys that throw a wet blanket on the catty festivities.  Most of us aren’t Republicans, Gallup reported that as of 2010,  31% of Americans identified as Democrats, 29% as Republicans. So what they hey? Now we found out that 25% of the (really zealous and proudly involved) caucus goers in Iowa  – a state mostly known for their caucus and corn – have voted for Romney. Our entire nation is being told to get terribly excited/worried/happy/mad because .04% voted for the lesser of a handful of evils. When you combine the top three vote getters you can’t even get to 100,000 people or .039% . The Occupy Wall St crowd has a much broader impact and implication than the GOP horse race – it is relevant to 99% of us. Nearly all of us could relate to struggles to keeping our standard of living from slipping too much. We’ve all had real life experiences or extreme worries about keeping our homes, getting laid off, or dealing with devastating health or education debt.  If we haven’t, we know we are very lucky and probably know lots of folks who have dealt with these very real and serious issues that directly effect us. This is why getting the frame right is so important in any discussion – when you determine the frame, you win before the discussion starts.

What I’m describing is a Big Media frame – they set the topic and tone of discussion and we follow. We don’t necessarily follow because we are stupid and don’t care about other issues, the reasons why it’s difficult to wrap our heads around the actual concern of the times – instead of the daily headline – are many: we are busy, we are only piecemeal informed, we aren’t shown civil reasoned thorough discussions, we are encouraged to take a side and camp out there, we are supposed to be shopping and tweeting.  When folks are too concerned and start actually making life inconvenient for the powers that be – Wall St., Big Business, 1%ers – there is an active effort to get the masses back to a “safe” issue like a horse race, a celebrity fling, or a hair helmet.

So, what to do? First of all, I would encourage everyone to really take a good hard look at your news sources. How many trivialized stories, celebrity stories, or “empty trend” stories do your sources publish? I personally believe that straightforward television news is not a good value for my time – though I see clips online often. I have to sit through way too many pieces that amount to commercials for some new drug, product, or personality. The 4th estate – our media that is supposed to provide for an informed public – is failing us in lieu of making more money off of the airwaves that we the people allow them to use for free in exchange for this service. I’m sure this is not news to you.  Look online for good news sources, look to other countries to find out info about our country. Some of these links are posted on my links page here. I also review some news pages from news sources I think are biased against my opinions. I want to know what they are saying and what their tactics are. I like supporting media watchdog and free media groups. The strength of our online community (including all of us using the internet democratically) is the only thing that has kept net neutrality.

Personally you can start to notice frames in media as well as everyday conversation. Notice how your “problem” relationship counterparts frame things – do you find yourself scrambling in a reactionary mode? Keep reading and you can train yourself to see the conversation under the conversation and get to the heart of matters then change the frame in your favor.

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