By Dave Andrusko
New York Times columnist David Brooks is no friend of ours or unborn babies. But occasionally he has insights very much worth pondering.
Brooks once wrote a column (yikes, I just looked back and discovered it was over eleven years ago!) that ended with this: “Cultures [once] structured people’s imaginations and imposed moral disciplines. But now more people are led to assume that the free-floating individual is the essential moral unit. Morality was once revealed, inherited and shared, but now it’s thought of as something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart.”
There are a ton of reasons why our opponents hammer us bitterly. But I suspect that near the top—maybe at the top— is that when it comes to protecting innocent life, it doesn’t matter to you and me what “emerges in the privacy of our own heart” if it results in the death of innocent human beings.
To their chagrin, we say–flatly, and without equivocation–that taking the life of unborn children, babies born with disabilities, or the medically frail elderly, is wrong!
Yet to be certain—as we are—that the sanctity of life applies equally to all, is not—not—at the expense of empathy. This completely flummoxes the pro-abortion mind.
But were they to read the essays we’ve reposted from pro-life youth, they might come to understand that a passionate defense of unborn children and empathy for their mothers who are in difficult situations are not in conflict. They go hand in glove and are mutually reinforcing.
Go to one of the pro-life camps that National Right to Life affiliates put on; or listen to interns and Academy students at NRLC; or just observe your own kids talking about abortion. They are able to make judgments without being judgmental, a key distinction. The former keeps the conversation going with those who disagree, as contrasted with the latter which often brings discussion to an abrupt end.
Like many kids, and perhaps yours, my kids have helped friends through crisis pregnancies, worked with children with major physical and intellectual disabilities, and have come to see that the same moral values that ground these behaviors apply equally well to the frail nursing home patient.
But why? What explains their dual capacity for support for unborn life and empathy for mothers?
Frankly because you’ve modeled those attitudes and behaviors.
Like you, my wife and I have tried to teach our children that there are many, many people who really do depend on the kindness of strangers.
But, like you, we have also striven to instill a complementary truth: you get back far more than you give when you operate out of a spirit of love and generosity.
I am not idealizing either pro-life parents or our children. We are flawed human beings just like everyone else. But what I am saying is that because of what you are doing, you are providing our children with the resources “to cultivate their moral intuitions.”
And in so doing you have bequeathed them an inheritance more precious than gold.