Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Problem With Right-wing Thought


Earlier this week, the above photo / meme appeared on my Facebook wall. It was posted by a lady in my church whom I know to be quite conservative. Because of the importance that the right gives to abortion, any meme that illustrates why abortion is wrong is considered "red meat" that goes to the very root of the conservative mentality. Never mind the faulty comparison, which is this: One of those is a species that faces a real and urgent possibility of extinction. The other is a species that is well overpopulated and wreaking havoc on our planet's ability to sustain itself. Do conservatives not understand what extinction is? It means that once a species dies off, that's it. They are gone forever. There is no bringing them back. They live on in photographs and biology books and museums. They do not live on in the environment.

To a conservative mind, though, man is the dominant species on the planet and it's by design. God gave humans that "right" of dominion and whatever we do has no consequence, because that's just the way things are set up. Also to a conservative, abortion under any circumstances is a great evil, often raised to the level of "the Holocaust", because a doctor and a woman wishing to terminate a pregnancy is depriving the fetus the right to be born. I believe this is rooted in fear-based thinking and the belief that life begins at conception. It strikes fear into the hearts of conservatives because they think, "What if my mom had aborted me? I wouldn't exist!" That is a fearful thought.

Eight years ago, when I retook a Biology course that I had failed in college and needed to complete in order to receive my Bachelor's Degree, I was struck by the chapters about the eco-system. In the animal kingdom, as every hunter knows, when an animal species gets too populated, predators increase as well as disease. Nature has a balancing effect to keep things from getting out of control and causing havoc. While this applies throughout the animal kingdom (and plant kingdom), the reason why humans have been able to transcend that is due to our sheer ability to manipulate our environment and live in large populations over a small area. Our ability to eradicate disease and increase the survivability rate of women giving birth, along with better diet and sanitation meant that the human population was able to explode into billions upon billions of people.

The problem with our species goes well beyond just sheer numbers. Its our rate of consumption and what that is doing to our environment. When I studied political science in college, I often heard professors cite some study that indicated that if every human being on earth lived the typical American lifestyle, we would require FOUR planet earths to sustain that kind of consumption. Think about how much we throw away in just our grocery shopping packaging materials each month! Imagine if 7 billion people did this every day!

Instead of obsessing over abortion, I wish evangelicals and conservatives would focus on the truly perplexing issues that face the entire planet today. We're talking about our own survival as a species and the sustainability of the planet. When anti-abortion folks want to save lives of the unborn, do they know what the impact will be on the future? I'm not sure how many pregnancies are terminated each year, but imagine if that number was 10 million each year. Or a hundred million in a decade. How many hamburgers would each of those ten or a hundred million eat in a lifetime? How many cows does that make? How many gallons of water does that take (to grow the grains to feed the cattle)? Each human life has a huge impact on our environment and if we cannot find a way to sustain a future for millions of unborn, what is that going to mean for our own future? We either have to make huge sacrifices in our consumption rates (which no one seems willing to do) or we continue to progress towards the guaranteed catastrophe of a planet reeling from the crop failures caused by hotter and dryer summers, which increase the price of food, which means more people are going to have violent clashes over. Considering how overweight many fellow Americans are, the over consumption of food is going to really hit our country hard.

An interesting development this past summer on our border illustrated the problem of conservative thought. I read so many nasty and mean and untrue comments about the young children from Latin American who made the dangerous trek to the American border in search of a better life. Conservatives were livid and accused them of being possible ISIS terrorists or of carrying disease or of becoming future Democratic voters who will turn Texas into a blue state. I did not hear much compassion from the right. If they are unwilling to take care of the already living children who are in need of food, shelter, clothing, and medical care, then why the hell do they care about the unborn?!? This represents the ultimate failure of conservative thought, which is that if someone wants or needs something, then it means that a person who has something will have to lose it to the person who has nothing. Well...what the heck do you think is going to happen if we keep adding millions upon millions of unwanted children in a time of growing scarcity and sustainability problems?!? It will mean more people in poverty and dire circumstances, hungry, tired, sick, diseased, ill-clothed, uneducated, constantly needing the basics of life.

So, if you are an anti-abortion person, I beg you to consider the issue in the context of over-population, climate change, sustainability, quality of life, crime, food shortages, water shortages, and really ask yourself...what are you willing to sacrifice in your life to ensure that these unborn millions upon millions of children who are not wanted by their mothers is able to get a decent chance in life? If you didn't care about the Latin American kids on the border this past summer, then why do you really care about unborn fetuses? Is it because abortion represents an existential fear you have? If you care about abortion, then make living children your cause to champion. Take care of the kids today who have little to nothing and don't worry about what some woman decides about her pregnancy. It's none of your business. It's the living we should focus on.