I get this a lot, in e-mails and comments:
“Hey ‘Kristen,’ if that’s your REAL name. I read your dumb article because I have nothing better to do than read stuff I hate on the Internet. You’re always talking about how you used to be this big pro-choice liberal because you were uninformed and lost in the darkness or whatever. Well, how do we know you’re not uninformed NOW? How do we know you’re not just brainwashed and in two years you’ll be writing for Jezebel and condemning your dumb pro-life self? Will the real Kristen please stand up?”
I’ve never addressed these comments because I have a life. But I have a less of a life now that I am a lowly, insignificant housewife, so I’m going to address these comments.
I am pro-life because of information. I was pro-choice because of lack of information.
That’s really the simplest answer. I could stop typing now, but then you all would weep and gnash your teeth because you want more paragraphs of my wisdom over which to rejoice or send me hate mail. So let me go into a little more detail.
Not everyone is pro-life because of information. Some people are pro-life because they grew up that way, and they have given as little thought to abortion as I had when I was pro-choice. I call this a “default” position. I was pro-choice by default, for the same reason I was politically liberal. It was the easy position, the one I absorbed from the media, pop culture, and other kids. Unless they receive a lot of correcting influence, most kids are gonna lean this way.
There’s a saying: “If you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you’re still a liberal at 40, you have no brain.” I get it. Liberalism is obvious to children, because the most obvious way to help people is to give them stuff and be “nice” to them. It takes a lifetime of learning – and, in my opinion, usually the influence of religion, which helps one understand that man can’t fix all of Earth’s problems – to realize that giving people “free” stuff is impossible, because nothing is free. And because giving people stuff and being “nice” to them is not nice, or helpful; it leads to dependency and corruption and general crappiness. (See Africa, ruined by aid. See also certain parts of Chicago, ruined by leniency.)
I read this book. It’s a great book to read if you want to understand why people are conservatives. It was written by David Mamet, the playwright, and it’s called The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture. He says something in that book that made me stop in my tracks, and it was this: “Kindness to the wicked is cruelty to the righteous.”
The Dalai Lama said, “My religion is kindness.” Doesn’t that sound like a beautiful thing? Liberals love it. You can buy a calendar festooned with quotes like that, and pictures of the Dalai Lama looking at flowers, in every bookstore in San Francisco.
The problem is that kindness doesn’t work in every situation. To use a pretty worn out example because it’s a good one, if we were kind to the Germans and Japanese in World War II, the good guys would have perished from the earth. We’d all be speaking German and heiling Hitler right now, or we’d be dead. We wouldn’t be America, that’s for sure. Kindness to Hitler would have been cruelty to the Jews and other enemies of the state he was busy slaughtering. In order to be kind to the Jews and the gypsies and the gays and the priests and the Americans, etc., we had to be cruel to the Nazis. We had to make a choice.
When it comes to abortion, kindness to the mother is cruelty to the child.
And in this case, as in many, kindness isn’t particularly kind. How is it kind to teach someone nothing, to offer her no instruction because it is “mean,” to watch her walk away to make the same mistakes again that caused her grief and desperation and pain and confusion and sorrow – and led to the death of her child? Is that kindness? Giving her some condoms and a phone number for Medicaid?
To me, kindness is telling people the truth: this will kill your child. You are a mother now. It is your responsibility to protect this child. You have other options, and we will help you every step of the way, but if you decide to let a doctor kill your baby, you will regret it for the rest of your life.
That is real kindness. Not the lie that a handful of cash will make it all go away.
But see, the other side has the easy sell. The lie is always easier: “Republicans are mean; here’s some free stuff.” The “default” position is the easy one you glean from movies and cool grownups. At 26, I had absolutely no idea what abortion really was. I literally, truly thought it was a “clump of cells.” It was information, it was truth, that changed my mind.
This is not to say everyone who is pro-choice lacks information. There are people right now working in clinics whose job it is to count the body parts and make sure there are no arms or fingers or heads left inside women to cause infection. Gotta make sure they got it all! These people certainly do not labor under any illusions about the baby being a “clump of cells.”
So how do they do it? Sister, you got me. I do not know. I know that even pro-choice Kristen would have run from that room screaming and puking. Listen: I know very good people who used to do this job and are now pro-life. Being Catholic, I think there are probably demons involved, and I am not even remotely joking. I think it is possible to delude yourself that you are doing “good” even while sifting through your bloody fingers tangible evidence of unspeakable evil. Humans are clever like that. We can do all sorts of mental acrobatics to make ourselves the good guys.
I spent the first few weeks of being pro-life trying desperately to stuff the genie back in the bottle – to reverse the spell, if you will. I wanted the internet to make me pro-choice again soooo bad. I knew what I was in for: I was going to be one of the dumb, backwards, mean, lady-hating pro-life wackos. But it couldn’t be done. And that is your answer, e-mail-haters and internet-commenters. That is how you know I will not be backpedaling and becoming liberal, pro-choice Kristen again: because once things are learned, they can’t be unlearned. And in the past six years – almost exactly – of reading and talking and arguing and writing, I have learned nothing new that would un-convince me of the humanity of the unborn, or the evil of abortion.