A Culture of Life — Really?

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A "culture of life" may be reality or deadly dogma.

Several neurologists examined Terry Schiavo and reported she had been in a persistent vegetative state for several years, so her feeding tube was removed. Congressional leaders and the President objected, trumpeting the “culture of life.” Meanwhile, that same Congressional leadership and President enacted a budget that took Medicaid medical insurance away from hundreds of thousands of children and their parents who struggle to care for their children’s medical, food, and other necessities.

What kind of a “culture of life” applies to that one woman, but does not apply to so many children and their beleaguered parents? Is that deadly dogma?

Why do those conservative Christians who talk so much about the “culture of life” limit it to abortion, birth control, embryonic stem cell research, and end-of-life choice.

There is a belief by some conservative Christian groups that a zygote or fetus is more important than a living, breathing, caring mother. Then I read Exodus 21.22-25. So through studying the Bible, tradition and history, logic, and experience I find the mother infinitely more important than a fetus or zygote! Then I learned two things:

  • Jewish religious law commands—not permits, but commands—that if a fetus threatens the mother's life, the fetus is destroyed so that the mother can live. This law covers the whole pregnancy up to the moment when a newborn breathes on its own.
  • most women who have abortions are mothers. Their birth control failed or they feel that another child will overwhelm them.

I think a real “culture of life” must focus on domestic violence, child neglect and abuse, murder, war! These are about living people facing traumatic, ultimate horrors. I believe those who are so loud about a “culture of life” want to distract us from the reality of child and domestic violence, of young children not receiving food and health care.

Child abuse
Instead of abortion and stem cells, start with child neglect and abuse. In 1998 in the U.S. 2,806,000 child abuse reports were filed, and 53% came from professionals. How many abused children were not reported? 204 Texas children died in 2004 due to abuse! Some of the religious right teach that parents should punish their children harshly!

Domestic violence
In Texas over the last six years over a million women have survived domestic violence, because they called or went to shelters. How many more stayed in abusive, violent relationships? How many women were stabbed, assaulted, murdered in your area? How many million survive physical and traumatic violence nationwide? Worldwide? Some of the religious right preach that men should dominate and women should be submissive! Is that a culture of life? Or are men and women to be in partnership?

Murder
In the U. S. murder is an epidemic. In Los Angeles last year 592 were murdered and 489 in New York City—well over one a day! Why do so many Americans jump from anger to murder?

Please recognize that child abuse and domestic violence and murder happen in the middle and upper class.

War
World War II claimed the lives of 55,000,000 people, many women, children, elderly targeted by invading armies and in their cities by what came to be called "the blitz" and "carpet bombing." Is the scourge of war an addiction of some leaders? See the recent documentaries Fog of War and Why We Fight both on DVD!

I think a realistic culture of life teaches

  • how to resolve conflicts between people,
  • how to manage anger,
  • how to respect differences and reach across differences with understanding, with acceptance, with appreciation, and
  • respects and affirms women and men, old and young, as having inalienable rights, and that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!

Are the real advocates of a "culture of life" the volunteers at rape crisis and domestic violence agencies and at shelters for abused children? The professional social workers and many other professionals who work with abused children and adults to be survivors, who work with gangs to reduce violence, who teach conflict resolution, and bridge the gaps between people?

Copyright © 2005 John F. Yeaman