Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"And Ain't I a Human?!"

She was born Isabella, or "Belle" as she was commonly called.  As a slave in America in the late 1700s and early 1800s, she didn't have a last name.  Just Belle.  Her slave master only spoke to her and the other slaves in Dutch so that they wouldn't be able to communicate with the English-speaking world outside his farm.  For Belle was not allowed to be a person with ideas and a will of her own, she was property that needed to be controlled.  Her life was only for the convenience of the one who owned her.  At 13 years of age, she was 6-feet tall and very strong, but still she was beaten with a metal rod when she frustrated her new owner by not understanding this new master's English.  She was not allowed to marry the man she loved, for he was a slave from another farm, and back then when slaves had children they became the free slaves for the mother's master.  Instead she was forced to marry a co-slave from her own farm, because that is what her master chose for her.  She eventually escaped, having to leave several of her own children behind in order to do so, and having to drug her nursing baby to keep her quiet during the dangerous and secretive journey north.

Eventually this illiterate, uneducated former slave became one of the most prominent speakers and leaders of the movement to abolish slavery.  She also became a headliner for women's rights, speaking on the equality of women and rights for suffrage.  She gave herself a new name for this new life, one where she actually could have a life.  She could make her own choices, earn her own money, and speak her own mind.  In one of her most famous speeches, "Ain't I a Woman", the newly named Sojourner Truth spoke about how as a woman she had done the same work and received the same beatings as a male slave.  She spoke about how men treating women like they were fragile or precious also gave justification for men treating women like they were weak and small.  She said she could eat as much as a man, was taller than most men she knew, and never had anyone opening doors or helping her over muddy ditches... and yet, she was a woman.  Her point was clear - people are people.  It should never matter their color or gender or mental capacity... and I would dare say, it also should not matter their age or development... people are people.

And I admire Sojourner Truth for her work.  I admire her boldness, honesty, and compassion for those who were treated less than human.  I admire her for not just being against slavery or oppression of women... she traveled and spoke against them, often as a threatening mob waited for her outside each venue.

All people are people.


I was making dinner. Since we were expecting a guest for dinner, I was clearing off the usual "catch all" materials that can be found on our dining table. Since we usually only use half of the table with just the 4 of us in 2 chairs - my husband, my daughter in her high chair, and myself holding our nursing son on my lap - the other half of the table gets covered mostly in our latest papers - this time, my new insurance application, bills, mail, and newly obtained AHA materials.

We have joined with Abolish Human Abortion, which is a group of people who have decided to step out of the merely typical "I vote Pro-life" mentality to pursue saving babies from murder by giving their parents the Gospel. People who are tired of dancing around the issue and want to give others the truth - the whole truth!  We are done with the timid attempts at persuasion or simply being against abortion.  That isn't enough.  We believe the only true cure for the problem of abortion is Christ and His forgiveness.  His grace.  His sacrificial love.  We even see ourselves giving truth to the church at times, because apathy has seeped in and taken residence in pews and minds of many congregations across the U.S.  The more we read, the more convinced we become. And since we plan on being involved in this group, we have been reading all the materials and watching all their videos and reading their website and blog.

And as I stacked the AHA pamphlets together to relocate them from the dining table, I dropped one that slid out from the middle. When I bent to pick it up, I only grabbed the front cover, and the booklet opened as I brought it closer...

I saw a picture of an aborted baby. A murdered baby. And this baby looked so much like my son, the baby I am nursing while I type this, when he was born, I almost threw up. I quickly closed the booklet without reading how far along this pregnancy was or where this came from. But it was a bloody mess of a child looking right at the camera with all its limbs, facial features - eyes looking straight ahead at the camera. I cried. I got sweaty. My throat got thick with disgust...

And I can't not see it. It is fixed in my mind. I see it while I do dishes, while I change my son's diapers, and when I lay down to sleep.  This baby - a real, living baby was killed. Not that this is news to me. I know that 2 of these precious babies are killed every minute. The government is okay with it. Our culture is okay with it. I am not okay with it. As I tried going to bed last night, I thought of that picture. The baby who had his eyes open when his life was taken. He could hear his mother's voice. He could see light. But he will never breathe again. He will not walk, talk, have friends. All that was stolen from him.

And honestly, my heart hurts for his mother as well.  What lies was she told? What justifications did she have to make in her mind to go through with it? Did she know all of her options? Will she regret it?  Sure, she didn't want this baby, maybe because she is young or busy or scared... but in 10 years statistically she will probably have a family... and will she wonder... will she wonder who this baby was that she chose not to have?

But who am I? Just a wife, a mother, a former school teacher.  What can I do to abolish abortion?!  The question haunts me, because I feel so compelled, driven to DO something... but what?

What have other abolitionists done?  They wrote books, gave speeches, and showed pictures.  They used scripture.  They used morality.  They used newspaper articles.  They used churches.  They had conferences.  They advertised.  They helped in a hands-on way - by helping slaves run away in the middle of the night.  They housed slaves secretly.

So how could I apply lessons learned from previous abolitionists to our modern-day evil of abortion?  I am exploring those ideas.  I am praying.  I am writing.  I am sharing.  I am weeping.  I vote.  I care.  But is it enough?

I could help pregnant women know their options. I could adopt. I could help new moms find shelter, food, and knowledge on how to be a mom.

I could share with them the amazing truth of Christ that was shared with me.

Now, when one of our group's founders gave us these materials, he warned me that some of it had graphic material.  I'm sure someone reading this will be upset that such graphic material is included in anti-abortion information, but it is a pretty graphic process that has been sold to the public as a simple procedure... like having your tonsils out.  If you were reading information about having your tonsils out, I doubt you'd pitch a big fit about them including a picture or diagram of tonsils being removed... but for some reason when there is graphic material of a "simple procedure" such as abortion, all of a sudden people start griping about "guilt trips" and "gore obsession" and "scare tactics".

And at first I was embarrassed at how sick I got seeing the picture of this murdered child.  I kept thinking to myself, 'I bet Sojourner Truth could look at pictures of beaten backs without being such a baby.  All she had to do was look at her own back in a mirror, so I bet she was so much stronger than I am.  I could never be an abolitionist like she was, because I can't even look at a picture without feeling sick."

Then lying in bed last night, I realized something very important for my confidence in this fight.  It dawned on me that I SHOULD feel sick when I see a picture of an aborted baby.  That THAT is WHY people don't want to see them and argue that we shouldn't use them... The blood on our nation's hands isn't something that should only be imagined, because it can be imagined away altogether... It is real, and it is disgusting.  So we should see real pictures of it and be disgusted!

And back in the 1800s, some people honestly didn't know the evils of slavery until they saw pictures of slave children's "tree-root" scars upon their backs from horrible beatings for simple mistakes the master didn't like.

So perhaps those who think abortion is just a simple "scraping out of a lump of cells" will see for themselves it is much worse.  Educating the masses somehow with facts, statistics might help.

Basically an abolitionist is a person who has decided that they will peacefully fight against the evil of their day... in any and every way they can.  So I'm not sure what all I can do, but I am going to do all I can.

And this morning, my indifference to blogging was replaced by a need to share the thinking process I have been going through the past few days.  My blog is not about abolishing abortion; it is about me and my life. But I am for abolishing abortion, so I am warning you now that on occasion my posts will speak to that... the death in abortion and the forgiveness, hope, strength, and life found in Christ.

I will speak against death until it comes for me.