Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Little by Little, the Tide is Turning. But We have to Keep Working

By: Msgr. Charles Pope
Most of you probably heard of the Gallup Poll released yesterday that showed that 61% of Americans want all, or most abortions, to be declared illegal. There remains for further study, the oddity that some Americans who take this position still say they are “pro-choice,” but in the end they still want most abortion to be illegal. If you are unaware of this report you can read it here: Gallup Poll
The upshot of the report is: that, despite their labeling of their own abortion views, a majority of Americans clearly not only oppose abortion and believe it to be a morally improper “choice,” but they believe the legal status of abortions should change and all or virtually all abortions should be prohibited [1].
The lesson here,  is that we ought to take heart. Our prophetic stance in the Church and in the wider pro-life community is having good effects. At times the battle seems long and the results seem distant, but little by little, the tide is turning. There will be set backs and troubles, but we have to keep working. Gently the tide is turning.
An old African American Spiritual says, Keep-a-inching along, Jesus will come by and by, Keep-a-inching along, like a poor inch worm, Jesus will come by and by. So the song says, keep working for justice, it implies, don’t give up. And those slaves of old saw slavery end. Many of the same arguments for slavery have been redeployed by abortion supporters, but keep inching along, Jesus will come, by and by, and the truth will out.
When we look back at slavery, most Americans are embarrassed that we ever thought such an abomination was fine and legal. But it took time to turn the tide in that great struggle. And even after slavery, the struggle continued, through years of Jim Crow and many indignities.
We look back on such things with shame now, how could we have been so foolish and have betrayed American principles so badly, as to enslave, and later segregate and exclude, a whole race. Slowly conversion has come upon this land. But it only came because some were willing to be prophets, and to keep insisting on what was just and right.
It will be the same with abortion. One day we will look back with shame on this era, and wonder how we could ever have been so sinfully wrong as to think abortion should be legal, and even funded it with state money. But it will take time and continued work. The poll shows we are on the way. Keep inching along, Jesus will come by an by.
Another example of how the tide can turn on an issue is smoking. The videos at the bottom of this post are hilarious ads from the 1950s entitled: More Doctors Smoke Camels. The ads, at the time they were produced, did not intend to be a comedy, but now they are. The ads show a doctor puffing up a storm and it assures us of the “benefits” of smoking Camel Cigarettes.
Looking back at ads like this we think, How could we have ever been so stupid? But of course it has taken us time and effort for us to come to our senses. The anti-smoking campaign was long, and at times, loud. I remember more than a few times being annoyed at the “anti-smoking Nazis.” Though I never smoked myself, I became especially alarmed when the government started telling restaurant and bar owners what to do. But in the end, and all discussions about Government intrusion aside, smoking has really been kicked to the curb in our culture. Some still smoke, but everyone today sees it for what it is, poisonous and, frankly, stupid. Those, who are sadly addicted, puff away, but most of the rest of us look to them with a kind of sadness.
This sea change came as the result of a sustained effort, often on an unwilling public. It was multi-pronged as well, using the media effectively, and even the legislative process.
For those of us in pro-life work there are important precedents to be seen in the fight against slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and even in the anti-smoking campaign. Consistent, persistent and organized action brings eventual results. This is often a battle for inches, but inches become yards, and yards, miles. Keep a inching alone like a poor old inch worm, Jesus will come by and by.

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