Noticing the News

If you know me, you know I’m not really into politics or government. I barely manage to keep up with current events. Yahoo! Mail greatly helped with that a few years ago when they started running a feed of the top news stories on the welcome page. I’m glad they kept that part for the beta. Two major stories have piqued my interest in the last few weeks.

The first, of course, is the shootings at Virginia Tech. I found out in the early afternoon, just before I went down to the CSC to go through the CDA financial books with Kelsey. On one level, it was absolutely terrifying. Thirty-two students and professors that simply went to class were shot to death. It could have happened anywhere. It could have happened here. I felt uneasy the following Thursday, in fact, just walking along the side roads toward Susquehanna. We had a special memorial at 7pm Mass the Sunday after that. Poor Kevin was lectoring that night, so he had to keep his composure while reading the full names of all thirty-two victims. I wouldn’t have made it through.

My response to the tragedy also left me uneasy in a different way. When I first saw that news headline, before the full casualty count was in, I prayed for eternal rest for the dead, like I always do. (I have to pray that far too often.) Then, I carried on with my day. I went to the CSC to do CDA stuff, remember, not to pray (though I did attend Mass that evening, as always). Thirty-two people, most of them students, died on a college campus less than 100 miles from where I’m sitting. Why didn’t I react more strongly? How ridiculously desensitized have I become? I was in Germany when the Columbine shootings happened, so I never really had the chance to feel that fear. But now, after this, I’m still so unaffected. It’s not that my faith in Christ assures me that death is only the end of this life and the entrance into the next. It’s not that I don’t identify with the situation. There’s something else wrong, and I don’t think I can blame it on everyone’s favorite scapegoat, modern society.

Even modern society is starting to change. That the Supreme Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban brings me great joy. I’m taking COMM 230: Argumentation and Debate this semester. It’s required for my major because today’s secondary students seem unable to write persuasively. Our second major assignment was a modified academic debate. Our instructor let us list preferred topics from a list. Clearly, God wanted to push me to succeed, because I wound up arguing that the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade. I’ve been out about being pro-life since this year’s March for Life (I never blogged about that, did I?), but this was a huge step. I had to finally sort out what I believe to convince an undoubtedly hostile audience and my opponent that it’s a stupid, stupid excuse for a law.

Luckily, convincing someone to overturn the decision is easier than convincing them that abortion is wrong. The Supreme Court took the same tactic. I applaud the five Catholic justices who constituted (pun not intended) the majority for affirming a belief so important to the faith. At the same time, I wish a non-Catholic justice had joined them, just to strengthen that bloc. It’s time America started to see that some issues go beyond faith. Banning this one (horrific) method of abortion is not the same as banning them all. It’s the first step to acknowledging that life begins before birth. As an intriguing pro-life doctor in the UK said (courtesy of The Ark and the Dove), if doctors scramble to save a baby born premature, why are other doctors killing babies at the same stage of development? It doesn’t make sense.

Will abortion someday be illegal? Maybe. Will people cease to want abortions, making the legality moot? Possibly. Will we look back on the abortion question as we do the Negro question, with one landmark Supreme Court case completely overturning another after decades? I hope so.

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