We witnessed to the right to life of children in the womb on Friday, and we witnessed to the right to life of refugees yesterday.
I have been reflecting on the simple truth behind both actions.
Every single person is created with intrinsic dignity.
Every single person is a reflection of eternity, a little glimpse of all the beauty that is. Every single person is a microcosm of the wholeness and goodness of existence, created with the ability to leave his or her own selfishness behind for a profoundly greater reality. This is true even when it is costly, despite suffering, despite everything the world does to the contrary, and even despite the very real things you and I do that are complicit in evil.
Again, the basic human right to life does not depend on whether you are American or not, whether you have an identification card or not, whether you are in the womb or not, whether you are elderly or not, whether you can produce anything for society or not, whether you have this political belief or that religion, or whether anyone on this earth wants you. Every human being has a right to continue to live, which is the foundation of so many other rights.
Therefore, it is evil to make a “living” killing children in the womb. It is evil to abandon their mothers or whisper to them, “Wouldn’t it be easier if….” It is evil to say to those who are kicked to the edge of the world, “Our lives are easier without you.” It is evil to turn away the refugee fleeing lethal violence. It is evil to make war for the sake of self-interest. It is evil to distract ourselves from the broken person at our door. It is evil to destroy the environment on which we all depend, especially the poorest and future generations.
This is the time when fluffy ideas about tolerance break down. Every right implies responsibility on the part of others. We need more than tolerance if tolerance means “do whatever you want but leave me alone.” We need a clear vision of what is good, and we need to challenge each other to be good. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
Let us admire and imitate the greatness of those who live on the side of the most vulnerable—not just vote that way, whatever on earth that would mean, but live their lives there. We are all broken in some way. I am broken, you are broken. Everyone who styles himself or herself as “winning” or “on the side of progress” is broken, too. So if we are all broken, yet capable of greatness, all the more must we care for those who are unimaginably desperate to the point of risking their own lives and/or the lives of their family members. We all need a family, a community, a society and culture that says, “You are good, you are valued, and—where the rubber hits the road—we will make sacrifices so that you and your children can have a dignified life.” That is our responsibility.
I’m sharing a vision here, one I wish I knew exactly how to make real. The specifics are up for debate. But there’s no other way than together. Let us strive for a world where all are welcome, supported, cared for, and forgiven, but first of all the most vulnerable. Let us grieve, let us beg forgiveness, and let us take the next step together, resisting evil, resisting complacency, and resisting the use of language to obscure the truth, whether on the right or the left.
The Lord gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the downtrodden, he casts the wicked to the ground.