Evergreen content, “Friends,” and the beauty of the pro-life message

By Dave Andrusko

Summer is here at National Right to Life which means interns have already arrived and soon we will be joined by students attending National Right to Life’s Academy. Youthful enthusiasm, young women and men who see enduring controversies with fresh eyes, this and much more makes the office hum with energy.

Saying hello this morning to one of the interns reminded of speaking with a group of teens last summer. The topic of little Charlie Gard came up.

Charlie, as you may remember, was born with a devastating illness–mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. His parents fought ferociously for what ought to have been their right: to take him elsewhere for experimental therapy. They lost to the Great Ormond Street Hospital. He died on July 28, 2017 when his ventilator was disconnected.

The wonderful adult who had brought the kids to NRLC asked who knew who Jennifer Aniston is? (She was about to say how much Charlie’s mother looks like Aniston.)

I smiled and almost laughed out loud. What 16-17 year old kid would possibly know Jennifer Aniston who first came to fame in the 1990s? And I said pretty much that.

With one voice, they said not so. They all knew about the show in which Aniston was one of the stars– “Friends ”–and watched it.

In case you aren’t familiar with “Friends,” it was an incredibly popular television series that ran on NBC for ten seasons, from 1994 to 2004. One young man, probably wondering how a duffus like me could edit NRL News Today, said “Netflix?” As in “you do know that Netflix runs programming that goes back decades and decades and decades, don’t you?”

And then someone else chimed in that “Friends” is one of those forever series, the kind of evergreen watching that speaks a universal language–friendship–that will resonate forever.

That instantly triggered in my mind the universality of the language pro-lifers speak, words and themes and sentiments that resonate even when people believe in “choice.”

I mentioned in my talk to the kids a speech delivered by O. Carter Snead at the banquet that had concluded NRLC’s fabulous annual convention. (Don’t forget. NRLC 2018 begins a week from Thursday in Kansas City, Kansas.)

Prof. Snead spoke of the attractiveness of the pro-life message–that it is aesthetically pleasing, morally cohesive, and reflects radical hospitality.

He once wrote something I kept and reflect upon often:

At bottom, the “life issues” involve the deepest and most fundamental public questions for a nation committed to liberty, equality, and justice. That is, the basic question in this context is who counts as a member of the human community entitled to moral concern and the basic protection of the law? Who counts as “one of us”? Equally important is the related question of who decides, and according to what sort of criteria? These are not narrow concerns commanding only the attention of a small number of highly motivated activists at the fringes of our society. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a public matter that is more important than this “question of membership.”

Who counts? Who decides who counts? What criteria are used to bring you into the fold or exclude you? These are “the deepest and most fundamental public questions for a nation committed to liberty, equality, and justice.”

Needless to add I came away with more from our time together than the high schoolers. I just hope they were half as blessed as I was.