We are an opinionated people. Just going to put that out there. In that vein I will quote Dirty Harry: “Opinions are like a**holes. Everybody has one.” There are other parallels between the two but I will leave that to your imagination.
Most responsible, intelligent people would probably insist that if you are going to have an opinion then back it up. What’s your data? Where is your evidence? Almost to the point of “Prove your opinion is Truth or go and don’t come back until you can!” Not really a reasonable approach when dealing with an opinion but understandable given our usual approach to most opinionated things:”You have a differing opinion? The fight is ON!”
It’s not reasonable to take the idea of ‘back-up’ data too far because hey, it’s an opinion, not a fact. Yet we confront differences as though all who would disagree with us are obviously denying the facts. Opinions are everywhere, especially in politics. Some are based on a lot of data, some are reflective of emotional involvement. Most are a mixture of both. Yet it remains opinion, none the less.
I watched the Republican Debates last night with my daughter and son-in-law. Wow! Lot’s of opinions! Both on the screen and in the room. Bear in mind that I have voted Republican in every election I have ever voted in. With few exceptions I voted straight ticket. At those times the R-Platform was closely reflecting my own opinions about how things should be governed in our country so I had no problems voting this way. My involvement and my interests in issues has changed my opinions in several areas. Immigration is one. A lot of my family and friends are entangled in the immigration quagmire that we have in place of rational and efficient immigration policy and implementation. I know enough to know that there are no simplistic answers to such a complex human problem fraught with such deep needs. My stand on this issue has distanced me from most Republican candidates.
My opinions on how this country should be interacting with nations internationally and responding to current threats has also changed. This has distanced me from both parties. Oddly, even though my stance on international affairs is predominantly non-violent my position on gun laws is firmly in favor of keeping the populace armed. I know, weird. In a country of highly polarized politics I find my feet on both sides of the aisle.
One area that hasn’t changed, and will in all likelihood remain intact, is the linchpin for me. This opinion remains as it is not because of facts or data or any conclusive evidence whatsoever. It hangs strongly in my heart as an immutable force even though I stand in full awareness that it can never be an arguable fact. This pivotal area that cannot change is the unborn’s right to life. It remains so strong and unassailable not because of what I know … but because of what I do not know.
Ajahn Chah, a Thai Buddhist teacher I respect, made a statement once that I have never forgotten. He said in effect that what you know gives you knowledge but you will not have wisdom until you accept what you do not know. You see, not only are we opinionated as a people, we are arrogant as well. Even though we do NOT know everything we hold opinions like we do. Unless we factor in our ignorance any stand we take will be out of balance. Lacking conclusive facts we have ignorance, or perhaps, non-knowledge: what we do not know. If we keep in mind what we do not know, what we cannot know, we have a chance of wisdom.
Opinions, like beliefs, take what we know and then take a leap. But we cannot leap too far. We have to keep in mind, “what if I’m wrong?”
Here’s how it goes with me. While a mother’s rights are a valid issue as well as the freedom of choice, for me it cannot be the critical issue. When I look at an babe in arms I have to ask, “When did the ‘fetus’ become this awesome, miraculous human being?” I know there are lots of opinions in the matter. Since 100% of the genetic make up of the human individual is present at conception there is the entire gestation period to work with in trying to decide at what point are we dealing with a person. Truth is …we don’t know. I don’t think it is something we can know. Facing that towering question mark I am left with the real question, “What if we are wrong?”
We may play God every day in many ways, consciously and unconsciously, but that doesn’t mean we have the right to. If we don’t know, and we know we don’t know, then how can we take the chance on being wrong? What if we are murdering a child?
That is not a popular question today. Contemporary culture has gone to great lengths to dehumanize the unborn. It’s not a baby, it’s a fetus. It’s not a body, it’s just tissue. It’s not a person, it’s at best an inconvenience and at the worst a problem. History is replete with examples of the use of dehumanization to validate abuse, persecution and killing of sectors of the human family. Slavery in this country, the holocaust in Europe, women still in some parts of the world, and to some extent even the ‘War on Terror’ we are currently waging. I have never trusted any action that is predicated on dehumanization, especially if it is an area where the judgments are made based on prevailing opinion.
So, where does that leave me? Well, knowing what I don’t know now I have to choose to err on the side of life. Both “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Choice” are based on an opinion formed from inconclusive data. Either could be wrong.
But what if we are killing children?
January 22nd was the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Since that time, there have been nearly 56,000,000 abortions.
What if we are killing children?