Guest commentary: Facing an ugly truth
These past few years, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has witnessed the springtime return of a strange human flock. The group numbers somewhere short of 100, I guess. To hear most locals, their visit has become an annual nuisance.
They’re certainly not pretty. Among them, both sexes sport overalls, ill-fitting jackets, hunting caps and such Kmart fashion as one might wear to shovel out the barn. A lot of them smoke.
And yet, however unappealing, these backward foreigners are determined to be seen. Their scattered committees set up on lawn chairs alongside the most traveled byways in broad public view. Holding up placards calculated to shock, all day long they engage the local traffic in a full-on visual assault.
The reaction is predictable. Jackson residents, though plenty tolerant, ask why they must abide it. “Why can’t these troublemakers stay home?” they complain.
They are alarmed for their kids. And this is easy to understand. Children should not have to face what those blatant placards reveal. It is just too ugly. It gives them bad dreams to see human beings so close in age, photo-enlarged in such a battered, bloodied state. Scalded, ripped to pieces, with eyes staring blankly from broken skulls and piles of their twisted flesh, these victims of abortion make the very picture of obscenity. Even adults can hardly bear to be so violently accused.
It reminds me of one such revolting experience I myself once had. At age 14 I was barely ready when my teachers presented some gruesome footage shot at the camps of Auschwitz and Dachau — where the corpses of Jews, gypsies and sundry unwanteds lay starved and pummeled into nightmarish shapes. Decades later, I can still feel the shiver.
But I was living in the ’60s, after all. Then, open-minded progressives made a point of looking reality straight in the face and exposing it for all to see. And in fact, the trauma did wonders for my sensitivity. I am glad for having seen. Once facing the awful truth of what we then called “man’s inhumanity to man,” I could grasp how urgently our own society needed the difficult reforms for which the decade is now so famous.
“Humanity” was the touchstone then. How readily we agreed when the likes of Martin Luther King preached that every human life is precious. How easy to concur that violence done to even one human being — however puny and despised — is a crime against all.
I still believe in the greatness of those times. I still embrace what they taught.
And so I am chagrined to note how the cause of legal abortion undermines it all. For the sake of abortion, the progressive parade soon went deaf to King’s voice. Today it remains blind to his vision. Where once their signs declared, “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and “End Violence,” now when it comes to the unborn, many lose sight of their humanity in order to embrace the bloodshed.
Thus, heedless of the human cost, they are ready to believe that killing a few million will make life happier for the rest of us.
Against such delusion, I find myself thinking, “Bring on the photos!” Again, let thinking adults look without blinking and behold what this supposed happiness actually costs. Perhaps the pain and anger those images provoke — the impulse to turn away — will bring us round again.
Perhaps we will stop imagining that any man, woman or child is ennobled, or that life is improved, by acts of unnatural brutality.
Anyway, back in Jackson, come Memorial Day the crude pro-life invasion packs it in and heads back home, wherever in the Midwest that might be. They take their blatant frankness with them. The town has its peace.
Meanwhile, we in Aspen have never been so publicly disturbed. But there’s no excuse to live in ignorance. Those photos, being offensive and unsophisticated as truth often is, will convey better than anything else the elementary fact about abortion. And they’re quite available to anyone.
By the way, if you happen to spot me on the street, take advantage of the chance. If you want, ask to see the one I carry discreetly in my wallet. With your consent, I will show what abortion actually does to actual human beings.
Then perhaps we can discuss like neighbors what it means. Awful as the image is, in a roundabout way it has helped me appreciate the matchless beauty of life as a human being. Once past the revulsion, I grasp again how critical it is to cherish this privilege in everyone who shares it with us and what a crime to demean it, whether by abortion or any kind of violence.
Chris King lives in Aspen. He is filling in for Melanie Sturm this week.
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