Pro-life advocates often claim that we live in a "culture of death." But most of us don't believe it. Not really. We may use the phrase as a rhetorical tool but deep in our hearts we think that our family, friends, and neighbors wouldn't knowingly kill another human being.
We convince ourselves that they simply don't realize what they're doing. If only they could see the pictures. If only we could convince them that the "fetus" is a person. If only they knew it was a human life they were destroying. If they only knew, they wouldn't -- they couldn't -- go through with the abortion.
But they do know. And the abortions continue. Not because we live in a culture of death but because we live in a culture of me.
In the fall of 2003, Glamour magazine had an article about a group of abortion clinics called the "November Gang" who encourage women to express their feeling about the procedure by writing them down on a pink, heart-shaped sheet of paper:
Notice that all three of these examples mention God. God forgives. The baby is better off with God. But the last one best sums up the attitude behind the Culture of Me: God thought you should be born but I beg to differ.
While reading these quotes I was reminded of the words of Josef Pieper. In his book Faith, Hope, Love, the Thomist philosopher examines the various meanings and connections between the concepts we use to describe "love." What, he asks, is the "recurrent identity underlying the countless forms of love?"
"My tentative answer to this question runs as follows: In every conceivable case love signifies much the same as approval. This is first of all to be taken in the literal sense of the word's root: loving someone or something means finding him or its probes, the Latin word for 'good.' It is a way of turning to him or it and saying, "It's good that you exist; it's good that you are in the world!"
The opposite of love, therefore, is the attitude that says "It's good that you not exist; it's good that you are not in the world!" No matter what words they chose to scribble on a pink paper heart, this is the message being spoken to these unborn children. While these women were informed that abortion was a reasonable choice, no one told them they were choosing the negation of love.