So, I warned you that Mondays would be light or non-existent for a couple of weeks. Don’t worry, I still love all of you. I just had to make it rain. Boo-ya!
Today I’d like to give some thoughts on a few posts from the remarkable Libby Anne, none of which were a full blog post on their own but all of which are important.
Libby wrote a few weeks ago about how we treat the poor. She explained her experience being approached by a homeless person on the street while out with her children and her initial reaction.
All sorts of things swirled in my head as I resumed my walk. Why would he ask for fast food? Groceries are cheaper. My mom would have said “he can always go to the Salvation Army downtown.” She would have said that the reason he was out here begging is that he wanted to avoid the requirements somewhere like the Salvation Army would put on him. That he could make more money standing by the street with a sign than he could if he got a job flipping burgers, and that he was probably using the money on drugs anyway.
These thoughts are far too prevalent, and they, frankly, baffle me to no end. I mean, let’s just apply Occam’s Razor for a second: what makes more sense? That the person has help available and willingly chooses to starve rather than jump through whatever arbitrary hoops the Salvation Army or whomever puts in their way, or that there’s probably a very good reason they’re flirting with death on the street that we, as reasonably well-off people, don’t know about?
The second conclusion seems more plausible. Though, as we know, the Salvation Army is willing to let people die on the street if they’re gay, or Muslim, and especially if they’re trans*, most people would be willing to at least try to fake it for a meal and a bed. The idea that the majority of people begging are just doing it because they don’t want to do the “hard” work of being a performing seal for the monsters at the Salvation Army is just ludicrous.
Suffice it to say, Libby had similar thoughts and eventually took the guy to the health food store she was going to anyway.
I waited for the man to catch up and we walked the last blocks in silence. I wasn’t sure what to say, and he likely wasn’t either. As we entered the store, his eyes lit up.
“I’ve never been in here,” he said. “This store is amazing.”
It is amazing. Far too often, we impart to others those worst traits we might fear in ourselves, and a full understanding of a person’s circumstances becomes impossible because it would come with so much guilt.
I highly recommend reading the rest of what she has to say on this subject and her various conclusions.
Libby wanted people to spread the word about Rethinking Vision Forum, a collection of articles and resources about the largest US Christian Patriarchy organization. It’s a lot like xenu.net is for Scientology in that it tries to expose the danger of this organization by collecting as much information about it in one place so that the full weight of its deeds can be easily observed. Check it out and be prepared to be afraid and angry.
Finally, we come to where Libby writes at length and with passion about how she went from being a pro-life crusader to a pro-choice advocate. It’s a very good article about her journey in this regard, but the thing that most stuck out about it to me was
I believed that the pro-life movement was genuine in its goals, but simply ignorant about how its goals might best be obtained.
I have come to the conclusion that I was wrong.
One of the things that I love about Libby Anne is that she is very good about making me reconsider my cynicism with certain things, especially regarding the motives of the people who disagree with me. I’m more inclined to take an attitude like Dan Savage’s on another subject because I just can’t see how people that want to do good can do so much evil in the face of evidence that they’re doing evil. While I know I should not attribute to malice that which can be more accurately attributed to stupidity, I don’t think stupidity can cover some of the horrendous things that I see coming from the anti-choice movement, or several other right-wing movements for that matter. So I’m glad Libby is there to make me step back and give it another look.
That all being said, I’m glad that she’s given that attitude up here. After a while, it becomes undeniable that there are no good intentions, there is no genuine but misguided attempt to help, there is only a desire for power and control. We can fight by gentle means, but there comes a time when we must draw our swords and wade into the bloody fray. I don’t like it, but some people cannot be believed and their motives must be always questioned because they have shown time and time again to be dishonest.
The reality is that so-called pro-life movement is not about saving babies. It’s about punishing women for having sex. That’s why they oppose birth control. That’s why they want to penalize women who take public assistance and then dare to have sex, leaving an exemption for those who become pregnant from rape. It’s not about babies. If it were about babies, they would be making access to birth control widespread and free, and creating a comprehensive social safety net so that no woman finds herself with a pregnancy she can’t afford. They would be raising money for research on why half of all zygotes fail to implant and working to prevent miscarriages. It’s not about babies. It’s about controlling women. It’s about making sure they have consequences for having unapproved sex.
She does end it by holding out her hand to those who were, like her, also duped into believing that those who run the movement give a damn about babies, and I hope people will take that offer and walk away from the harm done by the “pro-life” movement.