Artists for Life

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

we can stop pretending now


First things first. This is not a G-rated post. So please preview this before leaving it open on your screen for your literate children to find. 
And second...if anything in this post starts hitting home with you...I want to say Shame off you. This is a shame-free zone. Conviction and change, yes. Shame...can go to hell, where it originated. Because you are safe and loved here.
On to business. I kissed my kids this morning. I always do that; they sit at the table eating breakfast and I go around and ruffle their heads and give them smooches. It's a good way to start the day. We smile, we're happy, life is good.
The day is beginning.
Then I opened the mail and read Abby's story.
I don't know Abby personally yet. You probably don't either...but you might have heard of her. Here's what I read:
I was called into the room. I remember thinking that I was actually kind of excited to learn a new procedure, to witness a new technique. I thought it would be a good learning experience.

I got the ultrasound wand in place and I looked up on the screen and saw this perfectly formed baby. It was a full side profile - from head to foot.
Then I saw the cannula, the probe that is hooked up to the suction machine. All of a sudden, the cannula began to prod the baby in the side. The baby started to move. The legs started kicking.
The arms started moving. It was like the baby was trying to find a place to go in the uterus.
At that moment I thought to myself, "Oh my gosh. I'm about to witness something horrible."
Then the doctor turned on the suction and I watched the baby begin to twist and crumple through the suction. It was over in a matter of seconds.
This was the end of a life. It was the turning point in Abby's. Do you know who she is now?
Abby Johnson used to be a Director at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas. But then she saw what she was promoting, and realized how she had lied to women just as others had lied to her...and now she's on our side.
Are there sides in this? Must there be sides?
Oh, yes. There must be sides. There is no middle ground once you stop pretending and face reality.
I am not an advocate for showing pictures of abortions...unless you still think that abortion should be legal. Unless you think unborn babies should be disposed of like so much menstrual tissue. Unless you are still pretending that it's all okay...because it's not.
If you fall in that camp, you need to see the pictures. Now, don't be afraid - if you are so sure you are on the right side of this, then what do you have to be afraid of? Right?
If you're convinced you are on the right side of this, and that side is for abortion (even if that means "I-would-never-choose-it-personally-but-I-can't-make-that-choice-for-someone-else"), you can see the reality here. You ought to know what you are advocating. You ought to know what women are being lied to about. You ought to know what our country is coming to. You ought to know.
But if you don't want to see the pictures, it is an indication that you already know that something in your heart does not match up with your professed beliefs. Shame off you...you can stop pretending.
We'll stop pretending this is about choice...because women are being lied to.
We'll stop pretending women have no other options...because there is no such thing as an unwanted child in America. For every aborted baby, there are at least five families who would love to adopt that baby and give him or her a loving home.
We'll stop pretending this is about women's rights. Because women deserve better.
We deserve the truth. We deserve to be respected as people who can face the consequences of our choices. We deserve to be empowered, not simply enabled. We are so much better than this.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I won't apologize

A five-minute-read that will add fuel to your fire and ammo to your artillery:

A funny thing happened to me the other day when my wife and I had, thank God, another baby (a boy). Many of my friends didn't seem all that happy for me. Sure, they went through the motions of smiles and congratulations. But it was evident that many thought me insane. Why would a young man and his wife ruin their lives with eight children? Who could afford the Jewish day-school bills? Didn't we want to live life a little, and not just be burdened with kids?

It got downright surreal when a European film company, pressed me, while my wife was in labor, to finish shooting a segment that had an urgent deadline (I obviously told them they were insane). And the next day, I was mildly criticized by a Jewish organization which was supposed to be hosting me for a lecture for having to cancel on them because the lecture clashed with the baby's [curcumcision].

I don't mind that the world doesn't really love babies, just that it pretends to. It's time we got honest about our priorities. Most people get a new car every two or three years, but one or two babies through the life of their marriage is plenty. You can get drunk on an airplane, laugh hysterically with your mates, and still not really anger people. But if you dare bring a crying baby on board you will be given malicious looks as if the little thing is a package that ticks. If you walk your dog along the street, people will stop you to tell you how cute he is. If you walk down the street with a baby, you might find a woman or two who coos, but for the most part, you'll be utterly ignored.

Indeed, the contempt shown to parents of many children is the last acceptable prejudice in our society. As a father of a large family, I find myself apologizing wherever I go, as if I committed a crime. The frequent and loaded stares from scornful onlookers imply that the famine in Africa was caused by my selfish insistence on overpopulating the earth. Long ago my wife and I discovered that few hotels were prepared to accommodate so many children, even if we took three of four rooms, which is why we bought an RV for travel.

How strange to live in a world where loving children casts one in infamy. Having a family with many children implies a backwardness and primitivism that is deemed unbecoming in the developed countries of the West. Large families, it is thought, exist only among religious weirdoes or the teeming hovels of the Third World.

Rich countries, by contrast, prefer to increase their standard of living rather than the number of the living. Looking at Western birth rates for the year 2001, the United States averaged only 14.2 births for every thousand Americans, and the birthrate among white Americans is so low that the United States will soon lose its white majority. Indeed, one can go for days in a wealthy city like Manhattan without encountering a single pregnant woman. Riches and children have become inversely proportional such that the more of the former, the less of the latter.

Hence, the high birth rates of extremely poor African nations like Uganda – at 47.52 births per 1,000 – or Niger with 50.68 births per 1,000, are deemed to be prime causes and indicators of their penury. The abundant fertility and unconstrained sexuality of these countries confirms the unspoken Western mindset of these country's inhabitants as being just one step above savages. Contraception has become a synonym for civilization.

A Christian mother of six once wrote to me, "I find it troubling to worry about getting pregnant again ... because I don't want to face the criticism of friends and family. Why do people not see children as a blessing?" A fair question which deserves a fair response.

Why is it that even many synagogues today are not children friendly? Why are people impressed that Jay Leno owns 20 motorcycles, but disgusted that some religious families choose to have 10 children?

Let's not finesse the response. We all know why. A world that has lost its innocence has trouble appreciating beings who are innocent. A world that has become selfish has soured to the idea of leading a life of selflessness. A world that has become grossly materialistic is turned off to the idea of more dependents who consume resources. And a world that mistakenly believes that freedom means a lack of responsibility is opposed to the idea of needy creatures who "tie you down."

They can go fly a kite.

By just looking at my children, I become more innocent. By loving them, I become more noble. By spending my money on them rather than myself, I find transcendence. And by being a father and liberating all of the love in my heart, my spirit soars free. I work hard to support a large family and I give up no pleasures in doing so because my children are my foremost pleasure.

I am often asked by women dating men how to tell whether they are marriage material. I tell them, "See if he enjoys children." A man who loves children is playful. He will spend his life joking with his wife because he loves to see her laugh, and will flirt with her because he loves to see her smile.

There was a time when husbands and wives worked hard to ensure they could afford the blessings of a large family. Today, the higher your earning bracket the fewer children you have, but then we always knew that many turn money from a blessing into a curse.

Before he died, the Lubavitcher Rebbe launched a campaign asking parents to have one more child than they originally planned. It is a campaign that a dwindling Jewish community should revive as it continues to disappear.

- Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, 2006

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