With courage and compassion, he waded into a sea of grief with a message of tender care and tough love. His words were authoritative when he said that “caring for our children is how, as a society, we will be judged.” He was right when he said that, as a nation, we are not doing enough to protect innocent life. Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow, but the truth is what we need to hear, and I appreciate his clarity about the current state of our union.
As I share my appreciation, all I would ask of our president is for him to consider speaking with just as much moral clarity on behalf of all of the precious children who have yet to be born. I understand that he has political groups that he feels obligated to represent. I get that. This is the nature of politics and is the case for both sides.
With all due respect, I am asking if he would step to the microphone this week with the same commitment and compassion, and call our nation to be concerned and committed to protecting all of our children — born and unborn.
After all, what could possibly be the difference between a human life slain in a classroom and one that is slaughtered in a mother’s womb? Would we say that size is the difference? Is the unborn child too small to deserve our protection? Are big people more valuable than little people? No. The smaller person is more vulnerable but not less valuable. Surely size does not dictate a person’s right to live.
Nor does the measure of intellectual development. Did the teachers who were killed at Sandy Hook, with all of their earned degrees of education, deserve to live more than the children who were killed? None of us would say yes. Similarly, are the unborn children of our nation less than human because they have not learned a language, earned a degree or become self-aware? Surely intellectual development is not the measure of our worth or the filter of our justice, for the killer at Sandy Hook was reported to be a very bright person.
We instinctively do not tolerate injustice against handicapped persons, nor should we allow, because of mere difference in intellectual capacity, the indescribable violence that is happening in the womb every day.
What about our environment?
Can where we are give us intrinsic value or take it away? Does the journey down the birth canal somehow make us human and only then give us rights? Is love and protection contingent on location and environment? Not in the least.
Where we are does not determine who we are. The President was right when he said that the only fault of the victims was being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but none of us believe that the place where they were determined their right to live. Surely, where we are, whether in a classroom or a mother’s womb, does not determine our value.
I agree with the president that we can’t tolerate this anymore. He said that “these tragedies must end, and to end them, we must change.”
I could not agree with him more. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is the sad case not only for 20 but also for millions of our children every year. I am asking him to consider expanding his urgent call to action to include every single one of our nation’s children and to do everything in his power to end these violent assaults?
Sadly, events like these have become far too routine. Our president rightly said, “our time on earth is fleeting.” I just hope that for some of our children, it is not fleeting on our watch faster than it should, since caring for our children is how, as a society, we will be judged.
The Rev. John Harris is pastor of Grace Community Church in Marietta (www.gracechurchmarietta.org), where he has served for the past 15 years. He and his wife Patti have two children and live in Acworth.