Saturday, November 19, 2011
We are all pro-life
It’s a shame the terms ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ have been co-opted into the narrow-sighted and polarizing argument about the morality of abortion (and, by the way, they are not, by definition, opposites; if you really oppose pro-life, doesn’t that mean you’re pro-death? And if you oppose pro-choice, are you pro-indecision?). In reality, there is so much in this world in need of our attention, that perhaps its time we expand the scope of these terms. Indeed the leaders of two of the largest branches of the Christian church, have already expanded the idea of what it means to be ‘pro-life’. In 2002, Pope John Paul II and Ecumenical Patriarch His Holiness Bartholomew I (leader of the Eastern Orthodox church), after concluding a symposium on religion, science, and the environment, together signed a statement detailing a code of environmental ethics.
The unfortunate unwillingness of the majority of Christians worldwide to engage our responsibility to the environment as a mandate from God the Creator is amazing. Not only does this ignore the teachings of Jesus, but it also ignores the entire of purpose of our lives, as Bartholomew of Constantinople and the late John Paul II so eloquently articulate.
“A new approach and a new culture are needed, based on the centrality of the human person within creation and inspired by environmentally ethical behavior stemming from our triple relationship to God, to self, and to creation. Such an ethics fosters interdependence and stresses the principles of universal solidarity, social justice, and responsibility, in order to promote a true culture of life.” (emphasis mine)
They are calling all of humanity, every person of every faith to join together and become pro-life and pro-choice. We must realize that this ‘culture of life’ cherishes the inherent value of all life. To be pro-life should mean that we all “…think of the world’s children [indeed all future generations] when we reflect on and evaluate our options for action.” To be pro-choice should mean to choose to allow this “… love for our children [to] show us the path that we must follow into the future.” So in reality, if we step back and reflect rationally, we should all be pro-life and pro-choice. Yet reason and logic only take us so far in this quest to rethink how we live together with each other and with the Earth that sustains us.
“The problem is not simply economic and technological; it is moral and spiritual. A solution at the economic and technological level can be found only if we undergo, in the most radical way, an inner change of heart, which can lead to a change in lifestyle and of unsustainable patterns of consumption and production.”
Let us deepen our definitions of pro-life and pro-choice. Or perhaps, let us take our eyes off the symptom that abortion is and commit ourselves to addressing the actual illness. We have, as humanity, stepped away from the original purpose we were given; to be stewards of creation, working it and keeping it for our children.