Somewhere inside us common sense speaks. It says that being 'pro-life' must be about upholding the sanctity of life. This is true irrespective of how we define the source
of that sanctity - whether it be called God or whether it be more humanistically defined. To 'uphold the sanctity of life' is to respect life in all its forms, in all its manifestations, at all times, everywhere. This is the spiritual meaning of being 'pro-life'.
And yet having said this, we must acknowledge that this is a large task, one that is a measure of the maturity of a soul. When we can truly respect all of life, it is because contact with the soul level of our being has allowed us to perceive the rest of life as one with ourselves - one in origin and one in essence. Everything else is but a step in this direction.
While such steps are being taken, (and they have been taken throughout history despite wars and devastations of huge proportions), unconsciousness and self-interest still prevail. People tend to get attached to one branch of the tree that is the 'Tree of Life' - the tree of sanctity to which all 'pro-life' messages relate and from which they emerge. Because of emotional and spiritual immaturity, many don't see the other branches that are part of this same tree. Some see them, yet deny their common root and are even capable of flagrantly opposing the other branches. It is for this reason that we see, today, the term 'pro-life' being co-opted by specific political and social groups to reflect and signify the nobility of their very particular cause, while paradoxically ignoring the aims or goals of other groups who are literally marching under the same
banner. This creates spiritual confusion in some, and open conflict among others. For it is not uncommon that a group that is 'pro-life' in one area can be accused of being ardently 'anti-life' in another, simply because a different standard is being applied to a different set of behaviors.
Short-sightedness in the presence of the unfoldment of soul-expression is a reflection of the time we are in. It is a time of unfolding consciousness - consciousness which has not yet developed its full capacity to experience unity and which, in the meantime, is beset by self-centered ego and emotional needs. Such needs create an all-too-ready willingness to be 'the one' carrying the banner of righteousness, while at the same time making all others appear wrong and thereby effectively polarizing the world. We have to understand that in its deepest meaning, to be 'pro-life' is not related to a particular issue. It is related to an attitude toward life itself, toward life as a whole. This attitude seeks to create unity rather than polarization. It is not issue-oriented but soul-oriented. It sees in all the presence of God, by whatever name God is
To be 'pro-life', then, includes all of the follwing issues which, clearly, at this time, are not generally seen as unified:
1) The preservation of the sanctity of life following conception and prior to birth.
This relates to the abortion issue as well as to the question of how or whether embryos or fetuses may be used for scientific research, including stem-cell research.
2) The preservation of the sanctity of life up until and through the time of death.
This relates to the issues of physican or self-induced suicide or euthanasia, as well as to legal issues concerning the use of life-support systems to prevent physical death from occurring naturally.
3) The preservation of the sanctity of life in relation to the Hebraic sixth commandment - "thou shalt not kill," a commandment which has its parallels within both Christian and Muslim scripture.
This relates to the issue of capital punishment and whether the judicial system should be empowered to have this available as an option.
It also relates to the 'principle of non-violence' practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. that draws on tenets central to religions of both East and West. This principle specifies and conditions attitudes toward violence of all kinds: capital punishment, war between nations, the seeking of revenge, and the present 'war on terrorism' as well.
4) The preservation of the sanctity of life in relation to the protection of the freedom of individuals to pursue their own lives and destinies, free from oppression and the threat of oppression by powerful external authorities and forces.
Each of these issues (and others that are derived from these) relate to what it means to be 'pro-life', and the importance of each to an individual soul creates the shape of that soul's life and the direction of their choices and behaviors. It is clear that today, one who chooses to be pro-life in relation to protecting embryos may not make a similar choice in relation to the protection of the lives of Iraqis, Palestinians, Sudanese, etc. Put another way, one who chooses the 'pro-life' position in relation to pre-birth sanctity may, at the same time, still be capable of committing themselves to the use of capital punishment as an effective tool or to a policy which justifies a war whose cost is countless other innocent lives.
In the end, we find ourselves amidst these paradoxes and contradictions, partly awake, spiritually speaking, and partly asleep. As individuals and as a society, we find ourselves able to commit ourselves to certain ideals and, indeed, to make profound sacrifices on their behalf, and yet unable to reconcile ourselves to other ideals that come from the same root of the same tree.
This unfolding development is part of our collective future. It is a future in which the awakening of consciousness will unify ideals related to the sanctity of life into a coherent whole. At that time, they will become the foundation for a new way of living rather than the battleground among specific issues which they presently are. Fortunately, we can look forward with confidence to this coming day. For as surely as the sun rises and sets, so, too, will the consciousness of man one day become aware of the sanctity of life and unable to violate that sanctity without violating the very tenets of his own soul.
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