I no longer walk a solitary journey. As best as I tried to walk alone toward my final hours, back pain has become my companion. Walking is difficult, and sleep is elusive. So I staggered to my recliner just past midnight of August 1st, 2021, and glanced at newspaper headlines. Remnants of Hurricane Ida, Afghan pullout, Taliban Exult, and Facebook Profit and Pain smothered the New York Times front page. Exhausted, I Leaned into the recliner’s headrest and stared through the window into the horizon. I noted the moonlight glistening over whitewashed tips of gentle waves as they lapped onto the shore. A single overhead street lamp created contrasting highlights of black equally split by spatters of light. Whispering through a blackened void, my thoughts slipped through, “I expected something,” I expected something because I was told ’a new America’ had arrived.
When the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene in Texas’ new abortion restrictions, two glib ‘right to life’ coworkers pronounced that a new ‘God Grace America’ had come forth. However, God sent no angels, no great trumpet sounds screamed, and the elect did not gather from all over the world. The Lord did not descend from heaven, people did not rise, and Jesus caught no one in the clouds. Instead, the new America that started is comprised of white trumpism, masked in supremacy, peddled as truth, and armed in hate.
Texas weaponized a woman’s right to healthcare for political use, both by conservatives and democrats. By using people against each other, state citizens will oppress each other— man against woman, man against man, neighbor against neighbor. So instead of 30 pieces of silver, we’ll toss $10,000. Emboldening civilians to enforce law traditionally left to the government, it’s no different than Germany’s pre-World War II.
In 1933, the Nazis party worked to build a cohesive “national community” Suppression of dissent played a key role. The ruling party issued a decree requiring any German to turn in anyone who spoke against the party, its leaders, or the government. Thus, private citizens, motivated by ideological considerations, were thrust into the position of a pseudo-government prosecutor. The propaganda’s goal was to demonize Jews and create a climate of hostility and indifference toward their plight. America is experiencing a similar strategy.
Students, teachers, and employees can sue in Tennessee if they share a bathroom with a transgender person. In addition, Florida allows student-athletes to sue their schools if a transgender athlete plays. In a similar vein, under the new Texas abortion law, anyone can sue anyone who performs, aids, or intends to aid in an abortion — regardless of whether they have a personal stake in the abortion performed. In turn, it is likely spouses, friendships, alliances, loyalties, and faith will become disposable. Mindsets that feed our hyper-mobility ego of a God they’ve neither known nor prayed to will create a culture of loneliness and alienation.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said he wished to ensure that the life of every unborn child (who has a heartbeat) will be saved from the ravages of abortion. And Abby Johnson, an anti-abortion rights activist, stated, “We know this bill is going to save at least 100 to 150 babies every single day … and that is something to praise God for.” However, Abbott, and the Texas legislature, make no mention of how Texas will care for unwanted children. Thus far, I have seen no details for educational assistance (for mother and child). There’s no indication the newborn child will receive high-quality medical care, dental care, prenatal care, kindergarten, or pre-school support. In addition, children ‘saved from the ravages of abortion’ are not guaranteed quality housing or an operational electrical grid (Maybe Ted Cruz will fly them to Cancun during power outages.) Abbott will not even guarantee to save them from COVID during school. (In Texas, causing the death of another via COVID is a guaranteed right, while a woman’s reproduction requires scrutinization. Men, however, can freely stick their dick into anything.) Unfortunately, the Texas legislature does not understand those behind the decisions.
No part of the Texas legislation speaks to the multitude of women suffering. Some people behind an abortion choice might talk about a time of darkness, violence, spiritual and moral blindness, and unfathomable suffering where childbirth decisions are no longer a treasure but an exercise in misery. Such decisions are because they are beaten regularly. Others are mentally tortured. And some face systemic rape. Then some don’t leave, for there is nowhere to go. Thus, they must endure.
And what of the child. Abbott mentions nothing about the child. One friend suggested adoption. “Adoption,” she stated. “Adoption.” The problem is that Texas’ child welfare system kind of sucks. In June 2020, two independent experts appointed to scrutinize the Texas child welfare system described “a disjointed and dangerous child protection system … where harm to children is at times overlooked, ignored or forgotten.” The result means the child will feel abandoned.
In his book, Adoptee’s Struggle for Intimacy, author Neil Rosentha wrote, “The idea that a birthmother loved her baby so much that she gave him away makes no sense to a child. The equation is love = abandonment. Allowing one’s self to love and be loved, therefore, may be associated with subsequently being abandoned. The baby doesn’t care why his birth mother gave him up for adoption; the baby just feels abandoned. And that abandoned baby lives in each and every adoptee all of his or her life.” Wounds of the Heart don’t cease to exist by signing a bill. Only dedication and love can create a flower’s blossom, but that’s something Texans have.
Current GOP leadership is moving the country from prosperity to adversity with astonishing speed. To GOP, black lives don’t matter, but January 6th protesters are ‘political prisoners .’ January 6th was nothing more than a tourist visit. The lives of those caught in a web of human trafficking and slavery don’t matter. The lives of refugees don’t matter, and neither do people living on the margins of any thriving culture. The cynical consider the current GOP (and attitude) as evidence God is dead. “If He’s not dead, He’s certainly on an extended vacation.” But the GOP will openly exclaim, “Nothing validates God’s love for like wealth and success.”
Traditional Buddhists would say, ‘do not harm.’ It’s a bullshit excuse to redirect a serious conversation to some lofty theological perspective that’s of no value. A Catholic Respect Life associate once smugly stated that they recognized the inherent dignity of each human person from conception through natural death. After laughing for a few minutes, I inquired about programs for a 60-year-old black homeless man? Or programs for a 40-year domestic abuse victim? The associate confirmed the Respect Life effort was targeted toward abortion prevention. I ended the conversation by suggesting the ‘Respect Life Apostolate’ rename itself to the ‘Office of Pedophile Prevention.’ Focusing on that effort would do wonders for, quote, ‘respecting life.’ But while men with dicks remain in charge, abortion will remain repugnant and the stains of Catholic Priest pedophilia washed away, with nary a mention.
Henri Nouwen wrote about our current ego: “When we start being too impressed by the results of our work, we slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life is one giant scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure our worth. And before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers.” As a result, we are in grave danger of being shaped by the Pharisees of this world than by loving God who sent us. Remember, the things we do outwardly should be an expression of the deepest longings of our hearts. If we’re destroying one another on the path to Christ, then we need to check the map.
As a spiritual man, a Buddhist, and a man of faith, ‘abortion’ decisions must be made between the person and their physician. However, a level of compassionate clarity can allow each other to sincerely discuss a profoundly personal decision without fear of condemnation and shame. Compassion grasps the larger picture and requires the ability to understand the complexity of things and recognize the mysterious nature of this world that is far from simple and all knowable. And that conversation should occur without the fear of some taxi driver, parent, friend, or loved one being sued by a vigilante public.