Heads in the Sand

Almost a year ago, I held a tiny, breathless baby girl in my hand. She weighed just 1 pound 9 ounces, and she is still the heaviest thing I’ve ever held.

I remember wanting desperately to soak in her features in the moments I had with her, being both afraid to look at her little lifeless body and afraid to look away. I wanted to wrap her securely in her blanket and put her down and just not know anymore that she was dead; and I wanted to hold her forever.  Born unexpectedly early at 25 weeks gestation, Maelee’s heart only beat in the safety of her mother’s womb.  I think of her often. I think of everything her parents never get to do with her and about all of the memories none of us ever get to make with her.  I think about her death and the brevity of her life. As images of her fragile frame flood my mind, I am smothered by thoughts of all of the babies like her…too tiny to dwell here long. Wanted and unwanted, celebrated and feared, taken involuntarily or willingly sacrificed; I think of them, and Maelee’s doll-sized body resting in my hand feels weightier.

   Abortion seems to have become such a part of our common existence that watching mothers bathe themselves in the blood of their unborn holds no more significance than watching a cook batter chicken in raw egg. The videos and the transcripts, the admissions of what is happening thinly veiled by careful word choice.    

 I wonder, is it just too much weight?

Are we all holding a Maelee in our hand, so overwhelmed by the reality of the brokenness and grief that we can’t look at it anymore? Or have we etched such a divide in our minds between the wanted and the unwanted child that we’ve convinced ourselves that death is ok as long as we didn’t value the life? Maelee was, and is, loved, wanted, and grieved. Is that the only difference? Is that the thing that separates a cherished baby from a disposable fetus? Want? I think of all of those unnamed, unheld little ones, and my soul buckles under the weight of such a tragedy. All of those nearly weightless babies, so heavy and so devoid of weight to the world. 

Like a lot of people, I avoided watching the stream of videos I knew would invade my conscience. After all, I know where my heart rests in this. I know what I believe. No sense in tainting my potentially good day with such terrible thoughts, right? Then a third video was released…and a fourth.  Eventually, I pulled my head out of the sand, and I watched them. I read articles stating that the clips were manipulated to make words appear to mean things they did not, so I watched unedited versions when available; and I read the transcripts. How I wish this was all a misunderstanding, that the videos weren’t full of workers excitedly explaining the merits of the sacrifice of our young.  How I wish there really weren’t people sitting around assigning a fiscal value to mankind. But they are. They hope to get $300 per “specimen”.  Three. Hundred. Dollars. A bargain, I gather, from the casual discussions of the people in these videos discussing the sale of someone else’s child over dinner like they’re discussing the sale of green beans.

What is wrong with us? Why are we ignoring this?

We have cried out when we’ve discovered the bodies of our dead were carelessly tossed into the woods instead of being cremated as promised. We’ve filed lawsuits over wildlife poisoned in our oceans because of chemical spills. We are still talking about the “shameless murder” of lions and elephants and various birds.

All of everything is precious…except humans.

There are so many of us, you see, that we can afford to be choosy. We can avert our eyes from the bloodbath because there are starving, named children around us. We can justify our actions and the actions of our fellow man because humans are so very replaceable. We aren’t endangered.  We are utterly reproducible. It’s of no importance, what someone else is doing to babies. We can always make more.  We can watch mothers sacrifice their unborn children with total apathy, because someone else will care.

The depravity that led us to this place where killing tiny, growing people is acceptable as long as they haven’t breathed in oxygen and been given a name began long before doctors started cutting up humanity and dissecting it on a petri dish. That depravity began right after “in the beginning”. It’s not even new.  We think it’s unfathomable because we don’t care about history until its darkness begins to overshadow our shiny, glowing lives. But sacrificing one human while preserving another is ancient practice. Brothers killed one another so that they could attain favor, money, status. Mothers and fathers placed their children onto burning altars of big, stone gods so that they could go on living lives of wealth and health.

 We’re a devilish people. We always have been. We are perfectly willing to sacrifice children and turn away as though it doesn’t exist as long as it doesn’t affect us. We ignore injustice as long as the person being defiled doesn’t have a name or a distinguishable face. We sigh our deepest sighs while we heave our shoulders with sorrow and pour out our verbal regrets that someone could do something so shameful.  We discuss what an abomination our society has become. We point our fingers and turn up our noses and cast our blame onto the shoulders of whatever target presents itself most obviously available in the moment. We wash our hands of all responsibility and blame anybody but ourselves. We compare our sin to the people around us and deem ourselves righteous in light of their choices. But we aren’t better sinners than the people around us. We’re just the ordinary kind. Just like the person who aborts and the person who performs the abortion. It is pride that veils us to our own brokenness and shifts our focus to the sin we did not commit. It is pride that leads us to apathy, and silences our concerns.

The unholy truth is, we are content to live in a world where killing children is permissible,  as long as their mangled corpses are used to save a person someone else wants. We are content as long as her’s is not a child whose voice can be heard screaming out in agony.  We separate dead babies into categories of longed for and undesired, and we grieve the loss of the one while ignoring the death of the other.

We should be outraged at the barbaric murder of children, furious at a media system that ignores this holocaust. We should be burdened, grieved, devastated, motivated to scoop up the wounded mother and blinded abortionist and speak grace and forgiveness into their hearts, spurred to cry out on behalf of the helpless, but we aren’t. We are silent. God forgive us, we’re as silent as the cries of the massacred unborn.