Student dissatisfaction with the polarizing plaza portrayals, from both main sides of the debate, will receive no deep exploration here. The subject I want to explore is this: If people can express deep compassion for the well-being and dignity of a human not even born yet, couldn’t they do the same for a human who has likely been indoctrinated by propaganda and demagoguery, and enlisted in a war when other, safer options might be possible?
This question is, of course, not disrespecting the position of soldiers who do fight on behalf of defense-worthy values. Just two of those values are free speech and a free press. I should clarify now that I’m not a dogmatic pacifist, and I support self-defense whether on a minor or major scale. I don’t think war is the best approach to defend oneself, preemptively or otherwise, though. Obviously, there are many larger discussions to be had about international relations on this front. However, I’ll stick with my initial subject.
My question is meant to spark a discussion about human well-being. Consider the life of Wilfred Owen. He was one of World War I’s foremost poets, and he underwent firsthand experiences of watching young men, whether comrades or “enemies,” die in tortuous circumstances. No flags or hymns or high-minded rhetoric changed the reality he grasped in those ghastly moments. Following their decline, Owen went on to write some of the most moving, brutally honest poetry on the horrors of war ever imagined. “Dulce Et Decorum Est” is one of the most devastating war poems ever penned.
On that note, I wouldn’t mind the anti-abortion plaza demonstrations, if similar efforts could be employed toward anti-war demonstrations. Remember: human well-being is my core subject. Dehumanization is arguably apparent in both abortion and war. Of course, one could counter by saying that women are dehumanized in anti-abortion efforts, but that argument, while reasonable, isn’t the focus of this piece.
Ample food for thought in an anti-war demonstration might involve the following: Wilfred Owen’s poems, pictures of people killed via collateral damage and straightforward combat, perhaps a few testimonials from dreadfully enlightened soldiers, and accounts from fallen soldiers’ loved ones.
The well-being of many, many more humans are endangered when a war opponent dies than when an unborn child dies. Consider a stock image: A father’s or son’s or best friend’s or husband’s or boyfriend’s body being shot to death in an instant. What inspires more compassion in you: knowing that a human has suffered, who actively creates and pursues the well-being of numerous others, or knowing that an arguable human has only possibly suffered, who is incapable of pursuing the well-being of others? Moreover, what if the birth of that second human type would actively disintegrate the well-being of its possibly non-consenting mother?
Such questions are indispensable.
Naturally, one might challenge my opinion from a religious or philosophical ground.
Two main arguments seem to spring forth in this vista of thought: the first is that one can define a human as possessing fundamental rights from conception. This position is uncertain, at best. It also too often requires an exhausting recourse to debates of definition – debates in which I’d partake, were it not for my text limits. A soldier’s well-being is still directly more tied to human well-being than an unborn child’s. Nonetheless, I don’t support coercive utilitarianism. The point just warrants a mention.
The second argument stems from religious justifications. Apparently, because some people wield the ability to diversely interpret certain religious texts, they regard themselves as people who can criticize other humans’ personal values and conduct, in the context of those texts’ seeming limitations. But those texts rightly don’t apply to everyone. Thankfully, religious indoctrination and theocratic force haven’t influenced the mind of all involved in the debate. One could posit that in war, one destroys more God-cherished life than in abortion, whether physically or emotionally.
I know I’m unable to anticipate all the responses to this article. Moreover, I doubt I can address many of them in the future, given the end of the semester and my sought writing endeavors. I hope I’ve planted a unique idea in the minds of compassionate readers.
This applies whether one cherishes the well-being of the possibly burdensome or possibly wonderful unborn, or the born and killed, who have numerous loved ones.
Vivek Upadhyay is a freshman education major. His columns appear every other Tuesday in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.