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The Right To Be Wrong

February 3, 2012

There’s been a recent resurgence of press coverage framing the hostility between the Pro Choice and Pro Life factions of the eternal abortion debate. I don’t want to appear gutless about this, but frankly, I’m genuinely hoping to say a few words on the issue without receiving a flood of hate mail. The issue is an important one, and it deserves proper and reverential treatment. The very real problem is, so many of us folks who are seen to be on the fence might actually just be avoiding confrontation simply because it’s a rather dark, dismal debate that never seems to move or make much progress. Cut down one voice on either side of the fence and three more rise to take its place.

The stridency of the arguments is pretty intimidating, but of course, those who dominate the issue these days are largely seen as intransigent, aggressive, unrepentant and determined to argue their side regardless of whether it pursuades anyone to change their view. In fact, I’d almost swear that pursuasion is not the goal; there seems to be some blind belief that, if you argue the points enough times, the argument will suddenly be awarded to you, as if simply because you had earned it with earnestness. The problem is, that goes for both sides.

Now, let’s get my side out of the way. I’m a lefty liberal, an ex-Baptist, and an aspiring Atheist. What do you suppose my stance is? Well, in case it’s not so obvious, I weigh in heavily on the Pro Choice side. Understand, I believe in the sanctity of life. All life. Not just the bits of formless life that haven’t had a chance yet to be corrupted. That means the sinner as well as the saved; There is absolutely no difference in my eyes.

See, I don’t believe in original sin. I don’t actually believe in sin at all. I’ve used the word enough times in my life, but I’m well and truly past the point of thinking sin is anything more than a silly human construct designed to keep one another in line. I do believe there are things we can’t afford to be doing to one another, and I do believe that morality of one stripe or another can be a good thing for people. However, I truly believe that forcing morality and theology down the throats fo people who haven’t asked for it is as wrong as beating a man to death. Spiritual assault is as real to me as any other form of assault.

It’s just my personal view, and I accept that most folks wouldn’t agree with me. My strong feeling is, we’re all forced to endure the harsh conditions of living on this miserable mudball we lovingly call home, so the last thing we ought to be doing is going around making one another miserable trying to fill their heads with our insecurities and bullshit assertions about how the world works. I don’t see it as anything more than our own desparate attempts to find validation by coercing everyone around us to agree with our skewed view of reality. We’re all basically deluded. I don’t think there is any virtue in forcing our delusions on everyone else.

So what does that say about the abortion debate? Well, I don’t believe anyone has the right to enforce their narrow view of morality on other human beings. It shows a singular hubris and lack of respect. It demonstrates conclusively that some people are more than comfortable with the fallacious assumption that they are somehow morallly and spiritually superior to their fellow man, and therefore have the right to dictate how those inferior to them ought to behave. This is extended to anyone who participates in behaviour that these bastions of righteousness deem to be corrupt. No one actually knows what the truth is, but there are enough of us desparately afraid monkeys determined to prove their point, by force if needs be, that the rest of us are scared out of our wits and desperate to keep as far away from them as possible.

I’m not talking specifically about Pro Life debaters here. I mean both sides. See, I agree with the Pro Choice side, but I can see what bothers the Pro Life people, and I understand their fears, even if I no longer agree with any part of their arguments personally, if I ever did. I was a Christian once myself, so I have some idea about where the Christian Right are coming from. I don’t precisely sympathize with them. I just see their arguments and the level of frustration they are experiencing in trying to share their view of the world with their secular brethren.

The problem, of course, is that there are simply too many people on both sides who aren’t listening anymore. They know what the other side is going to say before they’ve even said it. The roles have been cast, the battle lines drawn, and the results preordained. This way lies destruction.

I’m just one guy. I don’t speak for anyone but myself. That’s really all any of us is, all any of us has any right to lay claim to. That we can scarcely see this, let alone agree with it, is a testament to the human spirit and our determination to be the stewards of Earth, at any cost. We choose not to accept our responsiblity in the damage that has already been done to one another and the other denizens of this planet. We just want to be proven right.

Well, we’re wrong. All of us. We’re wrong all of the time. And there’s absolutely nothing sinful about that. We’re not going to go to Hell for not agreeing with one another. There will always be disagreements. There will always be forms of behaviour one side deems unacceptable, and the other as some kind of Dog-given right. Neither side has any right, but they each have a large stake, so they frame their arguments and coerce their detractors and generally treat one another pretty shabily.

Rather than try to make the situation better for both sides, we argue incessantly, pointing the finger and trying to attain the moral high ground. It’s all a crock. No one has any say except the woman in question, and when we take it upon ourselves to tell her what she should or should not do, we do so with arrogance and self-righteousness, rather than genuine care and concern.

Hippy that I am, the single most important ingredient missing here is Love. We really do need to wrap our heads around what it means to love our fellow man (or woman, or genderqueer, or whatever), to accept without prejudice, to forgive without condition, to forget without regret. We must learn to extend to everyone the sweet validation of forgiveness that we crave and often feel denied for ourselves. We must forgive ourselves, and the people around us who sometimes forget we’re here, and can decide for ourselves.

We have to learn to accept that it’s not for us to declare everyone else wrong, and thus incompetent and in need of our personal guidance.

We need to give each other the right to be wrong. Then and only then can we be of any use to each other, offering advice and help when it’s needed, rather than when it’s entirely unwelcome. We need to remember that, maker or no maker, sin or no sin, there is only us down here, and we can’t afford to tear each other apart over an issue that can’t possibly be resolved the way we’ve been going about it so far.

We can’t all agree on what the sanctity of life means, but we can at least accept that none of us knows better than the rest of us. None of us is actually on a true first person basis with the Almighty, so if there is a true faith and true rules that most of us have been ignoring, I feel pretty safe in saying none of us is superior to the rest in any divine eye. We’re all just people down here. We all need to accept and move on.

And we need to back off and leave each other’s rights in tact. The more rules and laws we write trying to dictate what each other is allowed to do when it doesn’t directly affect us, the more holes we rip in the fabric of the future. We limit our own ability to move forward into a better age. We lose for thinking we can somehow win an unwinnable debate.

Only through acceptance and forgiveness can we ever be liberated.

I think I’ve exhausted my points. I could probably have been more pointed in my arguments, but really, the only thing I want from this debate is for people to see reason and move on.


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