Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Sadness in a "Happy" Dinner Conversation

Over the weekend my husband and I went out to dinner at a cozy Chicago French restaurant. The windows were flung open wide to the rainy twilight, and jazz music wafted above the patrons. The mood was light and cheery: friends chatting; soft laughter; pleasant waiters. About 25 minutes into this “life is good” vibe, the two ladies at the table next to ours began talking politics (the proverbial sound of the phonograph needle sliding across vinyl).

They appeared to be in their late 60’s and 70’s, and must have found it difficult to hear one another, as they were talking loud enough for my husband and I to hear their every word (and the tables were relatively close to one another).

“I’m going to vote pro-choice,” one of the women stated.
“I mean, it’s really important to me to vote pro-choice,” she reiterated.

“Yes,” the other agreed.

The blessed appearance of our waiter, and enjoyable conversation with my husband did their best to over-ride and block out the ladies’ ensuing political discourse, but I could sense my blood pressure at an elevated level ever since hearing the words “pro-choice.”

How wonderful, I thought, for these two ladies: one, I overheard, a political contender herself when her child was just one-year-old, and another a career lawyer now retired (seriously, it was as if they were sitting at our table, and while I tried not to listen, I did have to stop talking to my husband long enough to chew my food, and he also).

Now in retirement, they were exchanging tales of travel adventures, playing in the orchestra and taking philosophy classes. One had just purchased a new home. Yes, how wonderful that they, advocating for abortion in their ever-enlightened positions, could so easily look down their noses at the opportunity for another to live life to their fullest also.

No doubt their argument, as I’ve so often heard it from others like themselves, is that “most children who are aborted would never get the opportunities we did because of the extenuating circumstances of the mother.”

Establishing their own marker of quality of life, they actually think that some children are better off not being born, and more specifically, that all mothers who choose abortion are better off for not having had the child (no encumberment, inconvenience, perceived risk of embarrassment or being “tied down.”)

These two women implied a self-satisfied surety that abortion as a way to eliminate obstacles to education, achievement and self-actualization for the woman is perfectly legitimate (what always amazes me is that they never consider the female babies who are aborted and who are thus deprived of the “women’s rights” so many women profess).

So these advocates of “choice” (for the adult female, not the male or female baby) sip their Merlot and talk about plans for exploring Iceland and the thought life of Plato, all the while nibbling the crème brulee planted in the middle of the table between them.

Ironically, their conversation came to an awkward end when one of the ladies said, rather flatfootedly, to the one who recently retired,

“I hope you live for a while.”

I almost choked. Here she was wishing a long life on her friend who seemed perfectly healthy and nowhere near death (as the comment would seem to assume) while at the same time having just agreed minutes ago that negating any further life for a baby already on the beginning of his or her journey is something to base one’s voting record on.

These two ladies would most assuredly say they, themselves, are deserving of life, and are going to great lengths to extend it through healthy eating, exercise and brain-challenging activities such as travel and university extension classes.

What they completely miss is that someone, i.e. their mothers, valued each of these women’s lives while they were each yet in their mother’s wombs; these two women have lived and can aim for continuing long lives now because they received the opportunity to do so.

And yet...and yet they would deny others the same, not reluctantly but proudly, righteously and with devout conviction that it is the enlightened stance.

I mourn every young girl who has been and is being influenced by this false liberation dogma of “You can always have an abortion; in fact it’s your right promoted by women who, by all appearances, come across as discerning, educated and cultured. Ironically, it is often this same propaganda that leads young girls and women to promiscuity in the first place. 

The ladies at the table next to us got up to leave, parting ways on the sidewalk outside. The streetlights were on and the crescent moon rising above the Chicago skyline to the east.

I thought of my grandma, attending college in the 1920’s, becoming a teacher and then beginning her life as a mother in her late thirties and early forties. She didn’t leave anything behind to be a mother and wife at home, building a family. She was a teacher who then became a stay-at-home mom. Motherhood was another stage in life for her, not a death-knell. Motherhood was a continuation, not an ending, of her living a fulfilled life. And that is exactly what she did: lived life to the fullest, sharing it with her husband, two children and all nine of her grandchildren who continue to consider her our heroine to this very day.

Not only that, my grandma kept a Bible on the table next to her couch. She was a woman with a college degree, yes, but even more importantly, she was a woman with wisdom: wisdom that the two ladies in the French restaurant lack, and, I believe, are still searching for. I hope that one day, they find it.

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