A couple months ago, I was summoned to the Backwoods Inn. Two dear pals were finishing dinner. Miracle of cellphones, they called to ask if I wanted to join them for coffee and dessert. Hold my arm out weakly. Twist it. Oh please. Dessert and coffee with pals on a late Friday night — don’t make me.
A frequent topic, America in decline, was broached. One friend confessed. He used to rise mornings, previewing headlines. Days began with some singular, strange, head-scratching event plaguing reality elsewhere. But now? He’s finding 10 or 20. Insanity now lives in our backyards. Daily, something wicked trumps yesterday’s atrocities. Worse? The pace is accelerating. The insanity of 7:30 a.m. thumps its fingers, waiting to top the outrage of 7:15. It’s wearying.
Years ago, a friend noted: “The fundamental unit of humanity is insanity.” I’ve yet to discover any wiggle room around that. What was a chuckle and shrug is now our new reality. Insanity is our golden statue society writhes about in worship.
It’s been suggested, not by anyone at this paper, mind you, but by friends, that I stay away from the topic of abortion. I’ve a simplistic view about killing babies. Don’t. It’s wrong to push an innocent bystander onto railroad tracks in front of a speeding train. It’s wrong to probe into the womb to snuff the life from someone at their smallest and most vulnerable, leaving behind the justification: “Mommy wants to guzzle mai tais and dance until dawn and caring for the life that was created inside me just gets in the way of my lifestyle.”
My dear pal? The one who shared this unifying principle of mankind as craziness? She had a rather hot rod idea about abortion. This was 30 years ago. My pal long since made her transition. She felt all the rage and discontent we were reaping then was because of the tonnage of abortions, that souls came in to find a mom and a dad. Instead of awaking to poorly decorated nurseries and smiling, welcoming faces, they were met with infanticide. There’s a rude awakening. Or actually, not. That simple miracle we all experience each day? We get to wake up. All the pains, problems, doubts, fears, aches, shortcomings, what-ifs — daily? We get to wake. Look around at the changing light of morning, or, for some, the soft surrender of a darkening eve. We get to make things like coffee, feel the warmth of a wash cloth on our face. We get the chance to play, hustle, bustle, make spectacular idiots of ourselves, gripe, hopefully learn from our mistakes. How about this one — we get to breathe. Have you ever taken a moment during the day to close your eyes and realize something as miraculous and simple as a breath? Nine months. One day. How monstrous, to murder the fresh soul. How ugly to huff and puff, scream, “How DARE you tell me I may not end life!” in shallow indignation.
Where do babies come from?
Sex. A man and woman wrestle. Have for millions of years. No matter how deep or shallow the relationship, it’s a roll of the dice because that’s where babies — real, live human beings with souls, future brain surgeons or crack heads — come from. And let’s just kill them. Plop their little corpses in a Mason jar filled with formaldehyde, go make another and kill that one, too. Then brag about it? Copy somebody else’s bumper sticker so that you can mindlessly chant, “Tippecanoe And Tyler Too!” or “My Body, My Choice!” The trail of logic is a short one on that last slogan. A woman’s index finger is her body, ergo, shouldn’t she use it to pull the trigger on a revolver, spinning a bullet through the cranium of someone who irks her? For women, what a beautiful world that would be. “My body. My choice.” Ka-blooey. Then, you could pile on another perfectly reasonable justification: “For some, life does not begin until after 40 or until I say so…”
Have you ever held a baby and looked in its eyes? Those eyes? Bottomless. Universe atop universe atop infinity of outcomes, all effortlessly swimming on that wonderous possibility of becoming the man, or woman, whom you’re supposed to be, looking up at you. When does that life, that soul, begin? Nine months, right before actual childbirth? Science, of all things, shows us Life abounding a blink after conception. One of my best pals passed away just a couple years ago, almost made it to 70 and was a blessing to everyone she met. She was a preemie. Born at five months. Too skinny most of her life for my money and what a wonderful canvas she painted during her seven decades here. I smile thinking of her.
How did we turn into this obscene, post-primitive culture that worships the death of children amidst smartphones and Netflix, Starbucks and WiFi? Those beautiful 19 children, all dead in Uvalde, Texas, along with two teachers. But it would be OK, even better — a sigh of relief — if their lives had been taken right before birth?
A dear, dear pal of mine landed a dream job as a newspaper publisher in let’s just call it Shangri-La. Within months, he turned the place around, no mean feat because the owner was a bona fide nut job. She ended up firing the very man who saved her a fortune and he was rightfully stunned as to why. To me, it was clear.
“She could see her own, ugly insanity in the reflection of your eyes,” I told my pal.
“Emotional” is a gentile word.
One does get that way when caught with knife and forceps in your hands, dripping with an infant’s fresh blood. That small corpse? It belonged to the next hopeful citizen, someone all smiles, coming in for their magnificent chance.
And their greeting? An ugly sneer and an empty bumper sticker…
John Boston is a local writer. Pick up his latest books at johnbostonbooks.com.