By Carol Tobias, President, National Right to Life
Editor’s note. This appeared in the December edition of National Right to Life News. You can read the issue in its entirety at www.nrlc.org/uploads/NRLNews/NRLNewsDec2015.pdf. I trust that you are passing along these individual stories, as well as the entire edition, using pro-life social media contacts.
The world seems to have gone crazy. When we consider the recent bombings in Paris, and the shootings in Colorado Springs and San Bernardino, we ask, “Does human life have no value? How could all this craziness exist?”
Of course, pro-lifers have been asking these questions for more than 40 years. We see the deaths of approximately 58 million unborn children who lost their lives because the courts in our land determined these lives have no value. We see the lives of the elderly and those with disabilities devalued as they are pushed out of the way, encouraged to seek a doctor’s help to end their lives, or their lives are taken as a result of starvation and dehydration or denial of life-saving medical treatment. It’s easy to shake our heads and wonder if all is lost. But we’re not alone, and we’re not the first to wonder.
Shortly after the American civil war started in 1861, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of America’s most famous poets, lost his wife from severe burns suffered when her dress caught on fire, reportedly from wax that had dripped onto the dress. Longfellow was devastated and is said to have never recovered from her death. The Longfellows had six children, one of whom died in infancy. Henry was now responsible for five children; the oldest, Charley, was 17.
In early 1863, Charley ran away to join the Union army in Washington, DC. In December of 1863, Longfellow received a telegram that Charley had been seriously injured. He rushed from Massachusetts down to Washington, where he was informed that his son would be paralyzed. Other doctors said he wouldn’t be paralyzed but would need an extensive period of time to recover.
That Christmas, Longfellow faced a personal crisis. His wife was dead, his son was severely injured, his country torn apart by war. The injustice and violence all around him did not match with the church bells he heard pealing through the air, or the Christmas message he heard in the Gospel of Luke as angels proclaimed, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”
He sat down and penned a poem, part of which was turned into one of my favorite Christmas hymns:
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong, And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
Longfellow didn’t know that his words that day, the sharing of his despair and finally his confidence that, in the end, all will be well, would be encouraging to right-to-lifers 150 years later.
As Christmas draws near, Christians celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace, and yet we see violence and injustice all around us. We bow our heads in despair, wondering how our country can allow the killing of innocent human life through abortion and euthanasia.
We don’t always understand what happens or why but we know, as Longfellow did, that God is not dead and He is not sleeping. The Wrong shall fail, the Right will prevail. This knowledge gives us the courage and the confidence to keep fighting to re-establish respect and legal protection for our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.
I am grateful for all the wonderful grassroots activists in the right-to-life movement who give of their time, talent, and treasure to make a difference. Your efforts are changing hearts and minds, and saving lives. Our movement is growing exponentially as new people are educated to the atrocities that are abortion and euthanasia. These new recruits are then motivated to become foot soldiers in the battle for life.
I am grateful for all those who take extra time to teach and train young people about the importance of speaking up for life and becoming voices for the voiceless.
I am grateful for all those who work with pregnant women, offering hope and support as they work through a difficult time in their lives.
I am grateful for our elected officials who stand with us, working to change laws to the extent possible, working for that day when every innocent human life is valued and protected by law.
And I am grateful that we have a God who loves us so much He sent His only begotten Son into this world to save us. A God who is not dead and is not sleeping. A God who is with us in our efforts to see Wrong fail and Right prevail.
In the midst of the madness and mayhem that is our world, may you know Peace this Christmas. Merry Christmas to one and all.