My father-in-law once convinced his young bride that she was a terrible cook. She was so inept in the kitchen, she couldn’t even make Jell-O. After mixing up a batch, she’d stick it in the fridge and later discover a panful of colored water.
Frustrated, she began to wonder if the problem was the run-down, beat-up refrigerator in their mobile home. Or maybe it was the water. Or even the elevation of Buckhannon, West Virginia. Nothing could be done about those things, so she tried adding fruit slices to the sloppy mess, hoping the added bulk would unlock the Jell-O’s elusive, adhesive properties.
It didn’t, so my future mother-in-law threw out her sad concoction of fruit soup.
Eventually her cheek-biting husband confessed. He’d been sneaking behind her, dumping her Jell-O and replacing it with batches of Kool-Aid.
This story still cracks me up.
It also reminds me of why some of our strongest beliefs about life and freedom often liquefy into a slippery mess.
When reduced to their basic elements, our most passionate opinions rarely gel … because the most essential ingredient gets swapped out, and we don’t even notice.
“All life is precious,” my buddy says. “But if my wife or daughter is raped, becomes pregnant, and carrying that child puts her life in danger, I think my family deserves the horrible right to face what—for us—would be a heartbreaking choice.”
To be honest, I have always wrestled with that notion. Mom became pregnant with me when her marriage was on the ropes. When Dad left, a poor, West Virginia girl with only a high school education was already struggling to feed and clothe her two small children. Having another on the way—me—was only going to make a rough situation more grueling.
I almost tell my buddy this story, but I don’t have the chance. The conversation takes a predictable, political detour away from abortion until we find ourselves tumbling down another slippery slope.
As our discussion shifts to our other just-shut-up-already subject—gun control—it suddenly hits me.
With hackles raised and polite fangs glistening, I realize why America remains so divided.
On some issues, we can have semi-cordial discussions. But when it comes to unborn babies and school shootings, we run to our respective corners and lob insults at the inhumane, un-American audacity of the other side.
The problem, however, isn’t your opinion that the murder of children (whether in a school shooting or the womb) is just an unfortunate cost of American freedom.
The most vexing issue becomes crystal clear when you chill your arguments on these hot button topics, compare them, and discover the sloppy mess that’s just hard to swallow.
Bear with me as I stroll down the middle and offer an (admittedly) oversimplified view of both sides as they currently exist:
On the far right, we find the Pro-Lifers who want to protect the lives of the innocent by banning abortion … while preserving the freedom of gun ownership (as prescribed by the Second Amendment).
On the far left, we find the Pro-Choicers who want to protect the lives of the innocent by banning guns … while preserving the freedom of a woman’s control of her own body (as promised by the declaration of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”).
However, if we apply just a teaspoon of logic, neither extreme becomes something solid.
You see, the problem isn’t whether or not you think guns or abortions should be banned. The problem is your inconsistent view of human nature … and that’s why we can’t have productive discussions.
Here’s where we currently stand:
The Right Wingers assume that people will make good decisions as responsible Americans when it comes to guns … but will make bad choices when it comes to babies.
For Left Wingers, it’s the exact opposite. They want limits on firearms because people have proven to be irresponsible and even murderous with their weapons … but somehow become noble, humane decision-makers when it comes to the unborn.
Can’t you see the inconsistency?
Friends, what it comes down to is this: when your neighbor is at the end of his/her rope, when frustration has given way to despair, rage, and/or hopelessness, are you okay with that person having free, open access to the means of destruction?
Spin it any way you want, but until you wrestle with that question and pin down your true view of human nature, we’ll remain stuck in a political headlock that only allows further violence toward those least capable of protecting themselves.
At the core of your being, you have to decide what you see as true human nature. Is it inherently good and deserves broad freedoms? Or is it a grasping, selfish, shortsighted reflection of evil which demands regulations of protection?
Whichever you determine, find the courage to apply that logic across the great divide of every hot-button topic.However, we all struggle with this, and that’s why our most passionate beliefs simply don’t gel.
We can’t have hard, uncomfortable, but healthy conversations about guns or abortion because we all keep swapping out the main ingredient—how we see humanity.
If you believe in the best of mankind, that people—when given the choice—should be free to do the right thing, then that should apply to the abortion clinic and the gun store.
If you anticipate the worst of humanity, that people will make selfish, stupid, heat-of-the-moment, murderous decisions when they find themselves in the tempest of despair, and if you think we need restrictions to protect the innocent from a fractured humanity, then I expect to see you nodding in agreement that we need limits on both abortion and firearms.
Whatever you believe, we’ve all got to chill, reevaluate the ingredients we’re bringing to the table, and find a way to gel as a people.
Until we do, we’ll just keep drinking the Kool-Aid of political pranksters.
My dear friends, please share this with others. Have some hard, honest, loving conversations.
Our kids deserve better than what we’re currently giving them.
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