By Dave Andrusko
As you might expect, I frequently re-read essays and speeches as well as the Congressional Record. My reading list most assuredly includes speeches delivered at the annual NRL Convention which are often masterful.
One example, which I happened to re-read last week, was Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton’s speech at the 2021 Banquet which closed the 50th NRL Convention.
In Sen. Cotton’s powerful speech, which we reposted here, the senator spoke of the ordeal their son Daniel went through after initially seeming to be fine when delivered prematurely: “We kept a near-constant vigil in that NICU for almost two weeks.”
Their doctors “guided by God, were able to save Daniel’s life. And to save so many other lives just like him. Yet so many of those young children would have had no recognition and no protection under our laws until the moment of their premature birth.”
As I read his speech for maybe a third time last week, it reminded me of the introduction to “The Road we must travel: A Personal Guide for Your Journey.” It is an extended metaphor about how life and the way we navigate it today—I’m thinking GPS—is so different from “the paper roadmaps earlier generations used to fold, crease, scribble on, repair with Scotch tape and spread out on kitchen tables, shady picnic benches and the front seats of station wagons and minivans have most faded from view.”
The author’s writes about “The blue highlight,” that “calming, comforting, unmistakable sapphire line overlaying your course [on today’s digital maps] illuminating your way, boldly directing you from Point A to Point B by the most efficient route.”
Of course, life doesn’t work that way. Much as we might want otherwise, there is no blue highlight. The Introduction continues
It’s good and it’s comforting to have a Point A and a Point B in our lives, but where is the line marking our route? What’s around the bend? Where are the intersections? What’s the mileage? Will it be an eight-lane freeway or a winding, backcountry road with a few bridges washed out along the way? How long will it take? Where are the exits, vistas, scenic byways, and rest stops?
We can ask all the specifics we like but it really won’t help. No one knows the precise route each of us will take to the other side. There may be a clear destination—and thanks God for that—but there is no blue highlight marking the course from here to there.
So what do we do? “We can, however, do his much: We can make sure we are prepared for the journey, no matter what the route might be.”
Sen. Cotton was prepared for this daunting journeys into uncertainty, including by being armed with the power of prayer. My point is that, whether talking about Sen. Cotton or something you or I went through, the persuasiveness of personal, first-person accounts cannot be overstated.
Fortitude when circumstances counsel surrender—what a woman needs in bulk when (as so often is the case) those closest to her tell her that an abortion is the “solution.” What she covets most is the encouragement and reassurance that one lone holdout in an extended family can provide when everyone else is insisting she should choose the quick “solution.”
Finally, Sen. Cotton offered this thumbnail sketch of the pro-life ethos and how it equips us for the journey:
The pro-life movement stands against this evil ideology. [that there is such a thing as “life unworthy of life”]. In sharp contrast to the Culture of Death, the men and women of the pro-life movement proclaim that the right to life isn’t earned and it isn’t particular to any group—it is a God-given right to us all. The message of the pro-life movement is simple, it is clear, it is written down in no less an authority than our nation’s founding charter. Our nation’s bold, pro-life declaration is this – that “All men are created equal” and we all have a basic “right to life.”
And this is that unassailable truth to which generations of brave reformers have rallied as they battled against the Culture of Death.