Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Oh, yeah, that abortion thing"...and Ben Cartwright

Yesterday an acquaintance who asked me to offer one single reason why I wouldn't vote for a national Democratic Party candidate.

"I could give you almost 50 million reasons why...50 million dead, unborn children," I replied with aplomb.

My acquaintance blinked. Then he said "Oh yeah...the abortion thing. Got ya." Then the discussion—there were other people involved—veered into other directions.

Clearly, my "aplomb" was not deserved. And just as clearly, my reply meant nothing, did nothing, influenced nobody.

And for perhaps the millionth time, I wondered:

Why are so many otherwise decent people so casually disinterested in the fact that human life, in certain stages (e.g., the unborn, the very old, the incurably ill) is evidently worthless, or, at least, of very little value?

This morning I remembered a "Bonanza" episode I saw a few months ago.

I was laid up with a broken foot and watched a lot of TV. My favorites were the old shows of yesteryear...like "Bonanza."

Anyway, I remember a show in which The Ponderosa Patriarch—that thrice-widowed, amazingly gallant and loving father, that law-abiding model of generosity—killed three men. In one episode!

Oh, surely, the men were, no doubt, villains. I don't remember the plot, but they probably tried to rob a bank, or kill Hoss or Little Joe or both. But what struck me at the time and still does is that Ben didn't seem at all shattered by the experience. Nobody did. Why not?

Because that was the way it was in the Wild West?

From my brief, old Western education, I learned that men toted guns as a matter of course, whet their whistles regularly at the saloon, fought duels over fancy ladies, formed posses on a whim and, that, all in all, life was cheap.

Okay, I realize I'm talking about an old television show, sheesh.

But I'm trying to get to at least a modicum of understanding here. Why isn't abortion viewed with horror by most Americans? It isn't, you know. It might've been, at one time, but it isn't now. Why not?

Have we, like the Cartwrights, like the folks living in the days of the wild, wild West simply become numb to violence in the womb? Are the numbers of dead babies so huge—50 million is a BIG number, after all—that the whole thing has lost it's sense of repugnance? Are we a nation of folks that, faced with the wholesale destruction of innocent human life, are able to simple shrug it off as "that abortion thing" and go on to other matters?

I have a uneasy feeling that I'm spinning my wagon wheels, here, but I sure would like some understanding.