An unrepeatable miracle 

This is quite a departure from my usual “doodles”. I drew this today as my heart ached from the latest news about the desecration of the purest, most innocent of all human life. It is but the icing on top of many other abominable practices to which our culture has become desensitized. I’ve said much about this on other channels, and I don’t intend to elaborate in this space.

For now let’s pause to simply behold the miracle, the self-evident beauty that is every human being.

The human being is single, unique, and unrepeatable, someone thought of and chosen from eternity, someone called and identified by name.

–Pope John Paul II

What we can learn from those with “special needs”

As an aspiring special education teacher, I wanted to learn how to interact with kids with more profound developmental disabilities. I found KEEN, a nonprofit that pairs volunteers with special needs participants (kids and young adults) in a time of free play. I started two weeks ago; and as it turns out, there wasn’t much to learn at all — though there was much to unlearn.

My buddy, Charles, is an African-American male in his 20s. Because of his intellectual disability, he behaves like a 4-year-old, and would often repeat himself. His favorite lines are “How you doing?” and “What color is this?” Charles is also incredibly friendly, and would shake hands with anyone he meets. Sometimes, he would pick up your hand and sniff it (it’s his way of showing affection), which tends to startle people meeting him for the first time. He loves shooting hoops, which I happen to be terrible at, and thankfully doesn’t bother him.

When I first met Charles, I was keenly aware that under “normal” circumstances, we would unlikely be friends. Charles and I have close to nothing in common — not gender, not race, not age, not occupation, not skills, not interests. But it quickly became so clear to me that we have one very important thing in common — we’re both God’s children.

There is unparalleled beauty in simple interactions. When I talk to Charles and other participants at KEEN, there is absolutely no pretense. There’s no need to be smart, or witty, or funny, or interesting. No judgment, no expectations. Simply put, these are interactions in the purest form. No one’s trying to impress anybody, and no one’s trying to gain anything from anybody. I felt freedom.

Occasionally, I take a step back to just marvel at what’s going on in this basketball court, and I realize that this is an oasis in a clockwork society that expects so much of every individual.

One time, Charles wanted to take a walk outside of the basketball court, so I took his hand and we ventured out for 5 minutes, during which we ran into a few college students. Charles being Charles, promptly walked up to them and asked for all their names, before shaking and sniffing their hands. I was enraged by the grimaces and general discomfort plastered all over their faces. That was the moment I realized the extent to which we’ve created a society so hostile to those who are “different”. It’s no surprise that we’re seeing more and more “wrongful birth” lawsuits filed by parents who declare that they would have aborted their baby if they’d known he/she would be different. And then we have the likes of Richard Dawkins who’d go so far as to say that “immoral” not to abort unborn babies with Down Syndrome.

I, too, am guilty of perpetuating an elitist, ableist world. For four years, I immersed myself in the intellectual bubble that is The University of Chicago. There, I learned life-changing critical thinking skills that I am incredibly thankful for. Unfortunately, it also instilled in me a poisonous pride in my ability to engage in “intellectual” conversations, and hence a preference for a certain type of interaction. It took a major bout of depression that robbed me of many of my cognitive abilities for me to be humbled once more.

I love the work organizations like KEEN does, but it saddens me that we actually need to recruit volunteers to fulfill social and emotional needs that wonderful people like Charles are often deprived of.

I encourage you to try spending some time with people like Charles. They will always teach and remind us about what it means to be fellow human beings, and it will be good for our souls.

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Charles gave me a slip of paper with his name on it so I wouldn’t forget him over the course of the week.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 18:1-4)

 

Also published on The Mighty.

 

Enough with the endless abortion euphemisms

I thought “reproductive choice” meant choosing whether or not to conceive, not whether or not to destroy a child already conceived.

I thought “reproductive health” meant fixing faulty reproductive systems and ensuring healthy pregnancies, not puncturing uteruses and the skulls of perfectly healthy unborn babies.

And how I wish “feminism” meant fighting for equal rights, not for special exemptions from fetal homicide laws. (Existing fetal homicidal laws make a man guilty of manslaughter if he kills the baby in a mother’s womb, except in the case of abortion.)

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“We hear that abortion is fundamentally about a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. Or abortion is a litmus test for judicial nominees. Or abortion is symptomatic of what’s wrong with the social discourse in America. But none of those things is what abortion really is. Abortion is the intentional killing of unborn children.”

–Jon Bloom in Relentlessly Call Abortion What It Really Is

As much as abortion clinic counselors want to tell women that abortion is but the removal of clumps of cells, tissues, and at best “fetal matter” (watch real video footage of Planned Parenthood feeding women with misinformation and blatant lies), here’s what actual abortionists have said:

“Even now I feel a little peculiar about it, because as a physician I was trained to conserve life, and here I am destroying it.” –Dr. Benjamin Kalish

“We know that it’s killing, but the state permits killing under certain circumstances.” –Dr. Neville Sender

“In one room, you encourage the patient that the slight irregularity in the fetal heart is not important, that she is going to have a fine, healthy baby. Then, in the next room you assure another woman, on whom you just did a saline abortion, that it is a good thing that the heartbeat is already irregular . . . she will not have a live baby.” –Dr. John Szenes

“After twenty weeks, where it frankly is a child to me, I really agonize over it because the potential is so imminently there.” –Dr. James McMahon

The killing of babies can be tolerated, even championed as a human right, as long as we shroud it with euphemisms and avoid calling it what it is. Where are the honest politicians and protesters chanting, “We demand the right to decide which of our children to kill!”? Let us stand guard, lest our conscience be dulled by mere rhetoric.

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Re: “I am pro-choice because all evidence shows that restricting abortion increases the rate of abortion.”

There are pro-choicers who don’t consider the unborn baby a human being. A fetus is not a human life, they say, so they have no rights. And then there are pro-choicers who do recognize the unborn’s personhood. They also acknowledge that it’s unfortunate that an innocent life is terminated during abortion, but consider it a necessary evil. Statistics show that lifting restrictions on access to abortion reduces its occurrence. Besides, would you rather abortions be performed by trained, certified physicians, or by shady back-alley providers?

The first justification calls for a discussion on whether personhood is inherent or earned. In this post I intend to specifically address the second.

It’s safe to infer that these individuals feel abortion is on some level immoral, though most prefer to call it “unfortunate” or sad.” At least, I assume so because they do want it to be rare. What I’m perplexed by is this “logic” of allowing something as a means of reducing its very occurrence. It reminds me of the movie The Purge: In a dystopian society, the government has instituted an annual 12-hour period called “The Purge,” where all criminal activity is permitted. The justification? Because of this, overall crime-rate is now at an all-time low.

Reactions to this analogy have been varied. I’ve heard “I don’t see how that’s ‘dystopian’ if it works!” (to which I have nothing to say), while others have taken great offense. The latter group is not wrong to point out that abortion is a real-life situation, not some fantasy, non-existent scenario. Regardless, it seems to me an analogy that successfully highlights, without any sugarcoating, the inherent moral contradiction in saying that you want restrictions lifted so as to reduce the incidence of that very act. Or is putting lives on the line supposed to be some sort of reverse psychology tactic? As Rush Limbaugh aptly put it, “The message that President Obama delivered…was: morality is immoral. . . . Why work to reduce the number of them occurring if there’s nothing wrong with it?”

I’m in no way denying facts and statistics. Call me an idealist, but there has got to be better ways of reducing the occurrence of abortion that don’t force us to deny our conscience as individuals and as a nation. Have we looked hard enough? Rather than let Planned Parenthood drive up demand for its own profit, have we even tried to reduce demand for abortion? How about pouring more resources into…

…quality sex education (granted, content is highly debatable) + access to birth control (since the non-religious are unlikely to opt for abstinence) + better maternal healthcare and work benefits + better physical, emotion, psychological support for crisis pregnancy moms + reducing stigma against pregnancy out of wedlock in and outside the church + applauding the courage of women carrying their unplanned pregnancy to full term + actually recommending adoption as an option + …

I don’t know, I’m no public policy expert, but there has got to be ways to reduce abortion that are less morally lazy than expanding access to it.

Life isn’t what you make it

As much as we’re told that “life is what you make it”, that phrase could not be farther from the truth. The present life we’re living, wherever we’re reading this right now, is collectively made possible by our parents, teachers, friends, neighbors, bosses, doctors, firefighters, law enforcers, lawmakers, ancestors, founding fathers…..and lastly, ourselves.

Nothing apart from the decisions we make is inherently, wholly ours.

First and foremost, we’re alive today because we were each given a shot at life. We had the support of individuals (biologically related or not), groups, communities, and/or institutions that believed that we — though weak, voiceless, defenseless, even useless — were of value and had rights as members of a just and humane society.

We were cared for, taught the ways of survival, of weathering storms, of overcoming obstacles, defying odds, of discovering and pursuing our passions, until we’re ready to take those training wheels off. We then embraced the independence to carve out our own lives, and the freedom to do as we please. But never at the expense of others, because we remember to love and respect the way we were loved and respected for simply being human. We give others a chance to find their way the way we were given chance after chance.

Let’s consider our own profound indebtedness before we  make judgments about whether someone would be worthy recipient of society’s resources, or make assumptions about whether someone would be able to live a fulfilling life. If one is given the resources that will enable them to overcome and flourish, they will.

The greatest of these resources are love and respect, and the most basic of these is a chance at life. And when they no longer need their training wheels, they will pass them on to those who do. May this be the kind of society, the kind of human race we are proud to be members of.

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Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other.”   –Malcolm Muggeridge

Pro-choicers, will you please answer this one question?

I am shocked. I am outraged. Life post-depression has been incredible, but pro-abortion news stories and articles never fail to shock, outrage, and simply bewilder me each day. I could opt out of having these appear on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, but that would be to opt for denial. Today, President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to longtime pro-abortion activist Gloria Steinem, not his first time bestowing the nation’s highest non-military honor to a prolific supporter of abortion. I can understand (this does not imply empathy) with why many people can associate abortion with romantic words like “freedom” and “choice,” but can we please look beyond rhetorics and the myopic snapshots that these rhetorics produce?

Please stop calling it “pro-choice” — abortion denies the defenseless child of any choice whatsoever. Please stop calling it “healthcare service” — what abortion does to the baby is the exact opposite of why healthcare is practiced, and why healthcare institutions and systems even exist. And you cannot begin to talk about “women’s rights” when you deny the first, most basic human right: the right to life.

In a promo for the recent Texas telethon that raised $50k for abortion, Sally Khon says women are “invited to laugh and feel powerful” — am I the only one who imagines this to sound like a sinister cackle?

Underneath all these labels are morally and logically inconsistent arguments. Pro-abortionists, there’s really just one thing to explain: why your life matters and theirs don’t.

I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” –Ronald Reagan

Are you prepared to love?

Meet the Dennehys. This has got to be the most beautiful family in the world. Just seeing how much the adoptive parents’ love empowered and enabled these kids, I don’t think you could even call them “disabled” anymore.

Lately I’ve been thinking (and talking, and arguing..) a lot about what it means to be pro-life. Which involves knowing why you genuinely oppose  pro-abortion (I don’t like the term “pro-choice” — it attempts to shroud and sugarcoat the ugly truth) arguments. I honestly believe that the pro-abortion movement in modern, prosperous America is all about self-centredness. In particular the labelling of abortion as a constitutional “right” — it reeks of individualism (that discriminates the defenseless unborn). It’s about living and running a self-centric universe. It’s the American dream, of doing whatever it takes to get to where you want to be, stretched to disgusting proportions. But what about the argument that it’s for the child’s good, to spare him/her of a life with deformities/disabilities? Altruistic, is it not?

This video gave me another powerful insight into this question. Can anyone watch this and honestly say, “Those poor, miserable kids!”?

One big reason a woman would assume her deformed baby would grow up to be miserable, is because she herself would give the child a miserable life. She’s not prepared to love unconditionally, to love in a way that would enable a victorious life. When expectant parents say, “I don’t want them to be miserable,” is, what they really mean, whether they realize it or not, is “I don’t want me to be miserable.” There, self-centred.

Also watch little Ace Eicher tell the world about her brother with Down syndome, and weep. :’)