Thoughts and Prayers

“Empty prayer, Empty mouths Combien reaction.” — Michael Stipe

Thoughts and prayers. When one hears that phrase they have to suppress the rage that exists inside them. After all, there is nothing inherently wrong with thoughts and prayers. Surely you would rather have someone think about you and pray for you then do nothing at all. Moreover, everyone seems to offer that in these times and not everyone can be a bad actor.

There are three levels of response to these kinds of things. The first level is a gut reaction to the shock of the event. We hold our loved ones a little longer. We hug them a little more strongly. We seek the comfort of a beloved family pet and thank our lucky stars if no one we personally know was involved.

The visceral reaction is one of unadulterated anger. I don’t know who reads these anyway, so I can let the few peek into the crevices of my own mind. My initial reaction was the same as Sandy Hook. It was the same as Santa Fe. It was the same as Columbine and Florida. It’s the exact same as Virginia Tech and Boulder as well. It was the same as Vegas. It was definitely the same as Buffalo.

People doing nothing other than going about their daily lives don’t deserve this. No one deserves this. It’s particular cruel when it involves children. They had their whole lives in front of them. My first immediate thought is that the right can take their second amendment and shove it up their sanctimonious ass. They can take their thoughts and prayers and shove it up their sanctimonious ass. They can take their pro life hypocrisy and shove it up their sanctimonious ass. They don’t get to speak anymore. They get to sit down and shut the hell up so the adults can get to work and fix this thing.

Admittedly, as great as that feels to say, it doesn’t help the situation either. Sadness doesn’t help prevent the next one. Anger doesn’t help prevent the next one. Only action will help prevent the next one. So, any overtures to repeal the second amendment are going nowhere. We know that. The only thing it does do is provide the other side with a juicy soundbite to play on the campaign trail. It’s time for adults to sit down and figure this thing out.

Universal background checks should be a thing. The assault weapons ban should be a thing. Mandatory waiting periods should be a thing. Gun registration should be a thing. Let the right prattle on about how this is a mental health issue. Great. Get up off your ass and actually do something about mental health then.

You don’t get to make excuses you have no intention of following through on just to deflect from the obvious gun problem we have. You don’t get to offer platitudes about this, that, and the other without offering real solutions. We pay you for solutions. We don’t pay you for thoughts and prayers. We don’t pay you to flee to Cancun. We don’t pay you to make excuses, obfuscate, or derail the legislative process. We pay you to make our lives better. We pay you to make our lives safer. We pay you to install those policies every reasonable adult knows needs to be done.

Maybe repealing the second amendment isn’t reasonable. We are allowed our immediate thoughts as we process yet another one of these. We are allowed our outward signs of anger after one of these that never should have happened in the first place. We are allowed to dream of a world where the United States can manage to be like every other industrialized nation in the world. So, no I will not take your guns. Joe Biden will not take your guns. Kamala Harris and every other Democrat will not take your guns. Just understand that deep down inside many of us want to.

What about the children?

“Now my old world is gone for dead
‘Cause I can’t get it out of my head no, no.” — Jeff Lynne

There are moments in politics when the simplest answers are the best ones. Situations can often get complicated and we further complicate them when we obfuscate for our own advantage. The situation with supply chains is both complicated and simple at the same time. Of course, anyone that can grasp that paradox isn’t likely to appear as a talking head on television anytime soon.

The latest in a long line of supply chain issues is baby formula. It would seem that people should be able to get by without it, but that is one of the areas where talking heads can be purposefully obtuse. Not all women can breast feed and not all of them want to. It’s that whole bodily autonomy thing rearing its ugly head again.

So, one of the major manufacturers had production issues. Purdue had to shut down its production when some children were getting sick. The FDA intervened because that is what they are supposed to. It was not that dissimilar from when Bluebell shut its factories down for a short time. Formula is just slightly more important than ice cream. Yet, the concept is the same. When people get sick you have to find out what is going on.

This is where things get a little screwy. People love to complain about these things and they love to point the finger, but ultimately they really don’t want to do anything about it. The Republicans have recited the chorus of their favorite hymn these days: blame Joe Biden. As we know, the president of the United States spends countless hours each day pouring over supply chains and individual products. It’s not like he’s doing anything else.

So, the House of Representatives got the ball rolling by passing a bill to help with supply chain issues. Whether the Senate will also pass it is unknown. The Senate would struggle to pass a bill asserting that water is wet. You have a 50-50 split which is difficult enough. Then, you have the 60 vote filibuster threshold, Joe Mancin and Kirsten Sinema, and the craven politics of Mitch McConnell.

Nearly 200 Republicans in the House voted against a measure to alleviate these issues. They decided the problem doesn’t need government intervention. That’s fine as a philosophy but the likes of Jim Jordan have blasted Biden and the Democrats on Twitter for not solving the problem. His tweet says it all.

What do you suggest Jim? If you vote against nearly every measure to solve the problem then you either don’t really care about Americans and their formula shortage or you just want to exploit the problem for political gain. Of course, there is a third door here, but far be it from me to point it out. You could actually govern. You could say that the Democrats’ plans are all wrong and we should do something else instead. In this case he has tried nothing and he’s all out of ideas.

Don’t worry. Fox News has a solution. See, the problems stem from the fact that we are giving too much formula to those babies on the border. You know the ones I’m talking about. They are the ones the Trump administration cravenly ripped from their mother’s arms so they could put them in cages. Well, we should just take their formula and give it to American babies.

These illegal children don’t deserve it. Let’s ignore that the numbers we are talking about are much lower than what they were under Trump. According to the report, 22,500 children are being held at the border. Even if every last one of them was an infant needing formula, we are talking about less than one percent (about 0.6%) of the total number of babies in the United States. That would be the very definition of making a mountain out of a molehill.

Let’s ignore the numbers for right now and consider the implications of what they are saying. We should starve those children because American babies can’t get their formula. We shouldn’t do anything else to ease the supply chain issues. Jonathan Swift would be proud. This is your “pro-life” party ladies and gentlemen.

Oh Lord it’s coming

“Teach your children well
Their father’s hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.” — Graham Nash

I first saw it on my Facebook feed. I belong to one of those somewhat politically active teacher groups that’s ultimately a place where teachers can safely complain. It’s the end of the year, so there will be a lot of complaints. This year feels kind of different and it was hard to put my finger on it, but I think I noticed it when this story popped up.

I really didn’t take notice until I saw it on a different news source. It’s not that the teachers on social media lie. However, they are subject to hyperbole every now and then. However, more than one source has verified it, so I get to bring it to you.

For those that don’t want to go down the rabbit hole, essentially the bill proposes outlawing the teaching of anything deemed anti-religion and allows for parents to be able to pull books from the bookshelves that they deem to be offensive. The kicker was the following,

“Teachers could be sued a minimum of $10,000 “per incident, per individual” and the fines would be paid “from personal resources” not from school funds or from individuals or groups. If the teacher is unable to pay, they will be fired, under the legislation.”

People at school seem to think I know how to write for some reason, so I primarily support English classes. We hold meetings once a week to make sure everyone is on the same page. Social studies classes are even worse. They teach via Power Point and all of them are on the same Power Point.

Earlier in the year we had to take a workshop on the “teaching of controversial topics.” Essentially, we don’t. It isn’t so much that we teach the Bible so much as not teaching anything at all. Far be it for us to actually hit a topic that would force students to think critically about anything at all. Fortunately, we aren’t getting sued in Texas quite yet, but I’m sure Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and the rest of the dream team will copy Oklahoma before too long.

I’ve been in education for 24 years now. With the way teacher retirement works, I am almost vested and simply am too far in to really do anything else. Many of my colleagues are not and are choosing to get out. This is different. Most of the time they simply have had enough of a certain campus or principal and want to go to a different campus. Sometimes a better opportunity just comes along. In this case, they are leaving education all together.

I promised myself a long time ago that I would never become one of those “back in my day” guys. Yet, here I am. When I started teaching history we had a rough timeline they wanted us to follow, but ultimately we had the autonomy to veer off the beaten path every now and then to hit a unit we cared deeply about. It’s what made teaching history fun. Everyone had their own time period they enjoyed teaching.

Seeing an entire hallway of history teachers on the same Power Point every day is just demoralizing. The only way I can make it through six or seven more years is to remind myself that it is about the students. Those relationships are crucial for their success and our sanity. We just have to watch what we say for now on.

Are we being replaced?

“If you wanna find out what’s behind these cold eyes
You’ll just have to claw your way through this disguise.” — Roger Waters

A lot has been made of the so-called “replacement theory” since the kid in Buffalo shot up a grocery store in a predominantly black neighborhood. Since we are always aiming to be helpful, I thought I would break it down for those folks that don’t make watching Tucker Carlson a habit.

Replacement theory (also known as the “great replacement”) got its roots with French author Renaud Camus. It is the far-right white supremacist theory that liberals, progressives, and leftists are determined to allow or even encourage minorities to move to the United States in droves so they can get a permanent majority in Washington and in key states.

That’s a very simple statement and it doesn’t require much explanation, but it does have far-reaching implications. If we ignore the not so indirect signs between Carlson and the shooter we can shine a light on other implications of the line of thinking. After all, has anyone ever wondered why there are so-called “black neighborhoods” and “white neighborhoods” in the first place?

The notion of replacement theory relies on two very insidious ideas. First, it relies on the notion that anything really belongs to any of us. Sure, there is private property, so when we finally pay back the bank then our home will literally belong to us. Our cars literally belong to us. We have the title and everything.

However, that is not what far right conservatives are referring to. They are referring to America in the larger sense. It belongs to them. I suppose that they would include those of us that look like them and can pass as white enough to be invited to the party. That means that all policies have to continue to perpetuate this madness. This is why we oppose the estate tax. This is why we preach trickle down economics. This is why we fight a drug war this disproportionately affects people of color.

These policies are all designed to make sure that those in power remain in power. Furthermore, they are able to convince the poorer amongst us that this is ultimately a good thing. Even though they will not get the assistance they need and will ultimately remain poor, it also means that none of “them” will get that assistance either.

That brings us to the second insidious idea. The basic assumption is that if you are black, Hispanic, Asian, female, or a member of the LGTBQ+ community then you are destined to be a Democrat. It ultimately isn’t even worth trying to appeal to them. It’s destiny after all.

It’s a not so subtle conversion of people into cattle. They just follow the rest of the herd. It ignores the fact that numerous people from any group of people might have very conservative views on a number of subjects. They could be persuaded if their key issues were addressed. They could be persuaded if you treated them as individuals with self-determination. They could be persuaded if you treated them like equals and human beings.

Sure, they’ll traipse out the occasional Alan Keyes, Candace Owen, Marco Rubio, or Amy Coney Barrett. See, there are some women and minorities that are conservative. It isn’t literally everyone. Yet, let’s consider the implications of this point of view for a second. Why are we so afraid to allow people of color to vote in large numbers? The idea that this is not about racism is downright hilarious. Why exactly should we assume that those people would never vote for us in the first place?

Not only does it reduce America to a zero sum game, it provides a unique way for poor, white men to keep score. I’ll never get ahead by continuing to vote Republican, but I can damn well make sure that they will never get ahead too. If they somehow get an opportunity to succeed then what in the hell is going to happen to me?

So, ultimately it starts as an irrational fear that Democrats will take over and transfer ownership of America to all of its inhabitants. I know, it sounds truly awful doesn’t it? The truth of the matter is that if they had anything worth selling to the masses then they would buckle down and present their case to everyone. They know they can’t do that. They don’t have a case and they don’t have anything worth selling. It’s only about what they perceive as worth keeping.

One of these is right

“And when you lose control
You’ll reap the harvest you have sown.” — Roger Waters

Sometimes you can be surprised where you find good writing. Bill James is the preeminent baseball statistician from the last 50 years. However, what makes him unique is not necessarily how good his statistics are, but in how artfully he uses them to craft a narrative. I still remember his foreword in the first edition of the Fielding Bible.

He simply described watching video of Adam Everett and Derek Jeter play shortstop. He instinctively knew that he was watching the best and the worst defensive shortstops in the game. Without seeing the numbers he couldn’t tell you which one was which, but the eyeball test didn’t fail. They were polar opposites of each other.

The same thing is happening in Texas in the governor’s race. You can approach these things with snark, sarcasm, and all of the disdain you can muster. I imagine many people will. What I’m prepared to say beyond a shadow of a doubt is that one of these candidates is the kind of human being we should all aspire to be. The other is just not a very good person. I’m not sure of any other way to put it.

The juxtaposition can be seen most clearly in what is happening with a North Texas family. Greg Abbott has them under investigation because they have a transgender teen. Beto O’Rourke visited them on Mother’s Day and even cooked dinner for them.

To be perfectly fair, it is reasonable to ask whether O’Rourke would have visited them in a year when he wasn’t running for statewide office. I’m guessing he wouldn’t have. Would he have helped them cook dinner if the cameras weren’t there taking pictures? Again, I’m guessing the answer is no.

Then again, we could ask the same of Abbott. Would he be investigating a family for child abuse if this weren’t an election year? Would he threaten Texas families with charges and family separation if the movers and shakers in his party weren’t applying that pressure? My guess is also no.

So, here we are. We are left with the most vivid example of the difference between the two parties. One party wants to help make the world a better place and safer for all of its citizens. One party does not. One party wants to reach into homes and into people’s bodies to impose its will. One party does not. At this point it doesn’t make much sense to point out who is who and which is which. Everyone must answer that for themselves. What we can’t do is assert that they are all the same. Clearly they are not. One of these must win and one of these must be driven from polite society. I’ll leave the which is which up to you.

Pathetically Owned

“And if you can’t understand why your world is so dead,
Why you’ve got to keep in style and feed your head
Well you’re 21 and still your mother makes your bed,
And that’s too long.” — Billy Joel

I always hesitate to write these things. You know that’s what these people intend in the first place. After all, why does someone take a picture of these things and release it into the interwebs? So, we feed the beast but likely not in a way that they fully intended.

It’s the same reason why they put bumper stickers on their big ass truck or fly the flags at the house. It’s the same reason why they wear their t-shirts and hats to the gym or into the grocery store. It’s a not so subtle fish symbol like the early day Christians used to identify each other. For the rest of us, it is the announcement that I am indeed an asshole and there is nothing you can do about it.

I could focus on poor Logan and the life he has in front of him. I could focus on the hatred that is obviously there. I could focus on the nearly pathological need for attention. I could certainly link it to gun culture and the tragic events that occurred in Buffalo. All of these things are things they want.

My overwhelming feeling when seeing that isn’t anger or fear. Those are the emotions they want, but aren’t the ones they get. The overwhelming emotion is one of pity. At the end of the day they are closer to being a victim than they are to being a bully. They likely went out and stockpiled weapons when Joe Biden became president. They stockpiled weapons because they heard that Biden was going to take their guns. Somewhere the gun manufacturers are having a huge laugh and sharing a round of drinks at happy hour.

See, Jimmy Carter was going to take their guns. That didn’t happen. Bill Clinton was going to take their guns. That didn’t happen. Barack Obama was definitely going to take their guns. That didn’t happen. Even three year olds and most dogs could probably pick up on the pattern. Somehow the MAGA crowd is incapable of deductive reasoning or maybe even object permanence.

Poor Logan doesn’t stand a chance. He is being indoctrinated and not so much into a life of hatred, bigotry, and violence. Yes, he is being indoctrinated into those things too. More importantly, he is being indoctrinated into a life of abject stupidity. Abject stupidity allows you to be led by the nose to hate, to discriminate, and to respond in violence. Abject stupidity allows you to buy crap you don’t need in order to protect your family from things that will never happen. Abject stupidity allows you to photograph your own ignorance and broadcast it on the internet for everyone to see. The self-own is the cruelest own of all.

Abject stupidity pushes you to do things to own the liberals, leftists, and progressives when you could be a lot happier just living your life. These photos never inspire the fear they think it does. It may inspire outrage, but that outrage fades pretty quickly. More than anything it inspires pity. Anger and stupidity don’t mix well and they are a horrible way to live. Yes, the self-own is the cruelest own of all.

Tracing Our Roots

“And I’m standing at the crossroads
Believe I’m sinking down.” — Robert Johnson

The last week has demonstrated so much about the battle lines in America. In many ways, I would suppose it makes so little sense to those outside of the United States. It barely makes sense to those of us here. We are simultaneously becoming more open and more tolerant of activities that might be considered on the edges of societal norms.

Some people call these things victimless crimes. That designation obviously depends on multiple perspectives. Often times in these cases there are victims but they are not necessarily a victim of the crime itself, but all of the nonsense and danger surrounding the so-called crime. First, a bit of a historical perspective.

As everyone knows, we were settled by Puritans. I liken them to the Southern Baptists and non-denominational Evangelical Christians of today. Nearly everything pleasurable was a sin. Therefore, it was strictly prohibited. I don’t think most people have any idea of how this played on our collective psyche even until the present day.

You cannot drink. You cannot dance. You cannot read strange books. You cannot partake of other substances. You certainly cannot have sex outside of marriage or participate in any activity that might nudge you down that road. Since this is the case, you cannot have access to anything that would promote safe sex or allow anyone to make responsible choices.

What we understand today (and I imagine even then) is that when you deny someone anything pleasurable and tell them that doing that thing is a sin they will begin to crave it. They always joked that the best way to keep a Baptist from drinking your beer is to invite a second Baptist. As silly as the notion is, some people still think that if no one sees them do it then they never did it.

This has produced some widespread problems. I’m not sure how one measures such a thing, but it has been reported that the United States sits behind only Russia in the rate of alcoholics in society. That’s not total alcohol consumed. It’s not even alcohol consumed per capita. It is the percentage of people that have a problem with the amount of alcohol they consume.

We can extend this to other situations. One of my daughter’s friends nearly died from an overdose. It seems she bought some marijuana and still is not sure what it was laced with. Some dealers love to do that. I suppose that even if it were legal universally, some people would still try to find it cheaper or without the hassles of acquiring it legally. Maybe they find the regulated stuff to be too weak. The United States certainly has an opioid crisis and most of those are acquired legally initially. So, legalization and/or decriminalization isn’t the panacea that people think it is.

All that being said, we can’t help but wonder how much making it legal and available through traditional means would prevent things like that. We can’t help but wonder how many fewer people would have addiction issues if our attitudes towards alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana were healthier. We can’t help but wonder how many fewer people would need abortions if they had access to birth control measures and helpful education about sexual activity in general.

Unfortunately, we can’t have these things because we are still stuck mentally in 17th century New England. These things are bad. You cannot have those things and we certainly can’t talk about them. Furthermore, if we allow those things then the slippery slope comes in and we would then see an increase in those other things that all of us find abhorrent.

Instead, we could discuss things like adults. Legalizing marijuana doesn’t necessarily mean a sharp increase in the use of harder drugs we all agree should be illegal. Allowing for and helping children understand safe sex doesn’t mean a sharp increase will definitely occur. If you give someone a bowl of ice cream it is not normal for them to then devour the carton. What is normal is that if you show it to them and them tell them they can’t have any, you might wake up to find the carton empty. This is our collective American experience. It’s time to change the broken record.

A common language

“I spit out like a sewer hole yet still receive your kiss. How can I measure up to anyone now after such a love as this?” — Pete Townsend

One of my favorite stories behind the scenes came from the song above. For those unfamiliar with The Who, apparently the vast majority of the songs were written by Townsend who was also the lead guitarist for the band. However, he rarely ever sang lead vocals as that honor usually went to Roger Daltrey.

Sure enough, Daltrey sang lead vocals for the song above as well. When you read the full lyrics you probably get a different vibe than when you hear the song play on the radio or your stereo. The reason you get a different vibe is because the song was supposed to have a different vibe. Townsend intended for the song to have a more serious and introspective feel to it. He was actually asking about God himself. Who knows if the song would have been as popular if it had mirrored Townsend’s intention. Daltrey certainly deserves credit for having his own instincts.

My thoughts on this week’s events have made their way to other sites where others comment more often. The number one comment has been a rebuke of sorts. It seems I still hold onto my faith in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary. Oddly enough it seems in these moments when people are the least kind that is when faith is the strongest and most necessary.

The conundrum comes when it is those people of faith that are the most cruel. I harken back to a religious counseling class I took when I was getting my masters degree. The whole idea of the course was to be able to speak a common language no matter who your client was and what religious background they came from. A large part of talking through issues like abortion is speaking a common language.

I’ve heard a number of defenses of the pro-choice point of view and one main defense of the pro-birth position. Until you can interpret and mimic that language it will be next to impossible to convince anyone of a position. Even then you are fighting an uphill battle. It is much like the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelites. There is only one that can control their holy land and it is both of their holy lands.

In order for a moral law to exist, it has to exist universally. The preservation of life is a moral law and yet is not universally followed in all circumstances. Freedom of choice is a universal law in the social structure of our society. Yet it is not followed in all circumstances. Here you get the ultimate collision of moral laws. Which one wins out in the end?

Is life universal when someone goes to bed without a warm meal? Is life universal when they have to lay their head down on the cold concrete of the street? Is life universal when they have committed the most egregious acts our mind can imagine? Is life universal when cancer ravages their body and they have no insurance? Whatever the source of our morality, that morality demands some consistency.

Similarly, is choice universal when someone makes a choice we disapprove of? Is choice universal when one or more of those choices could become dangerous to those around us? Can the pursuit of one’s happiness infringe on the rights on someone else? In the spaces between our intellect, our most animal urges, and conscience, we find the logical limitations of life and choice. It is in these places where our collective cultural language and traditions seemingly take over. It is in these places where agreement and understanding are the most necessary. It is in these places where our sacred honor has left us.

The Conservative Pickle

“Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you’re always afraid. Step out line the man come and take you away.” — Stephen Stills

Last night I had the great pleasure of explaining case law and constitutional law to my daughter. See, she’s hopping mad over the impending ruling on Roe v. Wade. She isn’t necessarily a progressive. She wants to be like her mother who is fiercely independent. However, the way that politics goes you end up before forced to choose one way or another.

Being on the side of women’s rights these days squarely puts you on the side of progressives. It’s just the way the world works. In order to keep the flames going, the right has to keep momentum going. You do that by jinning up enough outrage that the donation dollars keep coming and the votes keep coming.

That’s the downside to overturning Roe v. Wade. It has been the battle cry for so long that when you finally do it, you struggle to find something else to shift to. Republicans have won elections for years in spite of a demographic wave that is destined to swallow them whole. They seem to cater to white men that are relatively uneducated. That leaves entire groups of people destined to oppose them and those groups are growing.

Women obviously are not going to favor them now. Oh sure, some will. However, when we are dealing with majorities we have to know that a majority of women are going to oppose this decision. All of the various minority groups also have not favored them. Their generic attitude towards immigration and refugees has cemented that for them. The fact that these groups are growing doesn’t trend well for them either.

So, what do you do? Obviously, the first thing you do is what you have already done. You stack the deck in the courts and you make it as difficult as possible to vote. Even when you vote, you draw the lines in such a way that your candidates have the advantage. Yet, this only works for so long.

The legal justification for overturning Roe is that the equal protections clause in the 14th amendment did not explicitly state protections for women’s bodies. There is no stated right to privacy. It has only been implied and assumed. If you no longer assume it then you can strike down any right that is not expressly stated in the 14th amendment or elsewhere in the constitution.

Let’s ignore for the time being that the framers of the constitution never intended for the document to be narrowly defined. The ninth amendment of the constitution states, ‘The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Of course, we can ignore certain things when it suits us.

So, the next stop on the tour is to strike down gay marriage. At least that’s what some people have argued. Yet, that puts conservatives in an ever increasing demographic crunch. The numbers on gay marriage are overwhelming compared to abortion. From there it will be interracial marriage. I can’t even begin to think how they would recover from that tsunami of public opinion.

However, that’s the box they put themselves in. If they don’t have those cultural wedge issues then they have nothing at all. They certainly can’t campaign on the economy for most Americans. They can’t campaign on their record of civil rights for most Americans. All they can do is pit one group against another in the hopes that you will be blinded by hate and willing to donate what meager cash you have.

What does Pro-Life mean?

“Born at the instant
The church bells chime
And the whole world whispering
Born at the right time.” — Paul Simon

Being a cradle Catholic and a self-proclaimed progressive usually goes hand in hand. The Jesus we learn about in the bible and on Sundays fought for the little guy. He healed the sick. He made it so that the blind could see and the deaf could hear. He hung out with the dregs of human society and invested his efforts in helping them.

No matter how bad anyone had been up to that point they were redeemable at least in the eyes of God. Then, we get to abortion. That’s where we have a bit of a separation. The church preaches that life is sacred whether it is at the beginning or the bitter end. It preaches that all life should be valued whether they be saint or sinner. Obviously, ending a pregnancy doesn’t fall into that paradigm.

Yet, there has always been a tension between the faith teachings of any church and the way a secular society has to be run. It has always been a challenge to keep God in our lives and yet not to intrude on the beliefs of others. A moral law cannot be based on religion alone. It must be backed by common sense, basic human decency, and a universal agreement of its existence.

Snark and passions don’t work well together. This is a serious moment in our nation’s history. It demands seriousness on all sides. The Declaration of Independence said we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are God-given rights it said. We were endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. Life is the first and the most basic human right.

However, to call oneself pro-life implies that those that are opposed to a specific viewpoint are anti-life. The reality is that we are talking about one narrow definition of life and one point in the life continuum. The truth is that there are any number of issues and times in our lives when the question of life is paramount. What does it truly mean to be alive? Are there basic human necessities everyone is entitled to? If so, then what are they?

If we are entitled to life and that entitlement is absolute then it is absolute at every juncture. It is absolute when I commit a crime. It is absolute when we have wars of choice. However, it is also absolute when I lack the basic necessities of life. It is absolute when I am hungry. It is absolute when I don’t have a roof over my head. It is absolute when I need health care and don’t have insurance. Any conversation about life has to include a discussion about the quality of life. We must agree on a minimal quality of life if we are to call ourselves pro-life. Otherwise, we are simply pro-birth.

That is a perfectly respectable viewpoint. It is one where we don’t have to all agree. However, when one calls for the birth of a child and then offers nothing in support of that child once it is born then they cease to be pro-life. They are pro-birth. Again, there is nothing wrong with that as a viewpoint. You just don’t get to claim a higher moral ground or have sole appeal to a higher moral authority.

If we are to be strict constructionists then we would have to strike down the equal protections clause in the 14th amendment except for those groups specifically named in the constitution. That would include mixed race couples, LGTBQ+ individuals, in addition to those rights of privacy not explicitly stated in the constitution. As appetizing as that may sound to some, it puts a qualifier on life. Your life is only fully actualized if it fits into this tiny box we defined in 1789 and after the civil war and reconstruction. Otherwise, you are invisible and you do not get to love who you want or be who you want to be.

Most people are well-meaning folks. They really don’t want to hurt anyone and think making such limitations helps those folks. I’m just trying to imagine Jesus of Nazareth saying the same things. I really can’t. In order to keep the faith I do have I refuse to.