Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Note for RRR regarding Abby Johnson and violence



I follow your work from a distance, with some admiration. So I read the exchange about Abby Johnson, and then watched her interview with Church Mili-Protestant. Respectfully, I’d like to speak up again, briefly.

Nonviolence is not an interim step between politics and war. Nonviolence, understood and undertaken seriously, has proven to be as powerful as any war has ever been. It is disturbing to listen to Abby and Michael Voris “thinking” about what the pro-life movement should do. Perhaps, they flirted, we should get serious and go to war. The nation did that once before, right?

Dear Lord, give us the humility to study. Give us wisdom. Yes, the nation fought to protect an oppressed minority once before. About a million people were killed or wounded in that war. If we do the same today, with similar determination, that would cost about 20 million killed and wounded. Oops. And then the pro-life side would lose. In the Civil War, the anti-slavery side had the power and resources of the Federal government, and the North outnumbered the South (excluding slaves) about four to one. That does not resemble the situation that pro-lifers face today.

Idle chatter about violence to stop abortion is not a silly sideshow. But if Abby and Michael Voris blather ignorantly about war, there is an effect – several effects.

One effect: if pro-lifers are making alliances with other armed and angry people, trying to figure out how to respond to 50 million deaths, it makes sense for the FBI and various police forces to treat pro-life activists as terrorists or potential terrorists.

Another effect: if pro-life activists are not clear and disciplined in choosing nonviolence over violence, then it is irresponsible to recruit for activism.

And another: the history of nonviolent campaigns is unequivocal, repeated over and over: a campaign of nonviolence can be destroyed completely, from within, by a drift into violence. If you haven’t seen the movie “Gandhi,” you should; it’s not scholarly or anything, but it does explain and illustrate clearly what the pollution of violence can do in a campaign of nonviolence.

Pro-lifers in America have difficulty facing it, but abortion is not a national phenomenon; it is global. Stopping abortion in Missouri is good, truly; but most of the children threatened by abortion in Missouri will die in Illinois, and Missouri’s laws won’t help protect them. Stopping abortion in red states is not a waste of time, but it is not a solution. Similarly, stopping abortion throughout the whole nation would be wonderful, but it might protect a quarter of the children threatened by abortion – maybe less. 50 years ago, when the American slaughter got underway, it made sense to try to stop abortion in America, but now that goal is hard to explain. It’s more ambitious than stopping abortion in one state – but not much more. The number of Americans who travel abroad today – just for fun – is about 15 or 20 times the rate 50 years ago. People go to India for heart surgery, and to Mexico for dental work, and Brazil for affordable meds – not everyone, course, but not just the ultra-rich. Traveling abroad for an abortion might cost 3-4 times what is costs to kill inside the country, and that will stop some people, but not everyone. The world has changed since the pro-life movement started, and pro-lifers have not adjusted to this change. Today, if abortion is available in Europe, it’s available to most Americans.

Respectfully, may I challenge you to think about abortion globally? Your first reaction may well be akin to despair: it’s just too much! But, respectfully, may I urge you to take that step anyway? Yes, the problem looks larger, but the allies and potential allies also rise up – far larger. Just a hint, not a lecture: read Scripture, and read the Catechism – but also read the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.” St. John Paul II made plans for a century of life, but also sketched plans for the work of the Church in the Third Millennium. While he was developing that plan, he wrote about America (one continent, in his view), and noted few people in this continent are aware of the Church’s teaching about justice. So he commissioned the Compendium, like an addendum to the Catechism. It’s for the whole Church, of course; but he saw the need when he was thinking and praying about America. So go get it, and read it. Sometimes, when a problem seems too big, the way forward starts with seeing clearly that it’s much bigger than you feared. That’s a step forward because it forces you to look for the help you need.

Clarity about the truth brings hope. Yes, we have a lot to do. But when you listen to the Church, instead of demanding that the Church listen to you, the Church offers clarity and hope and strength and fire enough for a lifetime and generations and generations to come.

Yes, we have a lot to do. But who’s this “we”? The “we” that matters is the “we/us/our” that speaks to our Father, and asks him to forgive our sins. That “we” is a big “we” – and that “we” will prevail.

Pray: Jesus invites you. Study: love God with you heart and soul and strength AND MIND. Stick with the Church: we are always struggling but we are never lost. And choose nonviolence: it’s Mary’s way, and nothing else makes sense.