Tonight, I was looking at photos of the March for Life. As I was scrolling through them, Ivan, my six-year-old, came into the room.
“What’s that, Daddy?” He asked, as he looked over my shoulder.
I found myself wondering if I should tell him. But then again, why not? Evil exists. It’s part and parcel of the world he is growing up in. I tried to find a way to tell him gently.
“Well,” I said. “There are some pregnant mommas who don’t think they can take care of their babies. So they have an operation that makes their babies go away. They don’t like to think about it, but that operation kills their babies.”
“But why?” he asked, looking confused. “Why would they do that?”
I pointed to my wife, standing in the kitchen, 8 months pregnant.
“You know how mommy has a baby in her tummy? We don’t know him yet. We haven’t ever met him. We’ve seen some pictures, but it’s not the same as when they’re born, is it? These mommies who do this, they don’t think about it. They don’t know their babies. It’s easier for them not to think about it because they haven’t seen their babies yet. And unfortunately, our government — the people in charge — they say it’s OK to do this. It’s not against the law. So all these people you see in the pictures? They have something like a parade. They all go and March in Washington to tell the people in charge that it’s not OK to let people do this.”
“But why would they allow that?” He asked, his face transforming into an angry scowl. “That’s SO MEAN!”
“I don’t know, Ivan. I really don’t understand it.”
At that moment, his mother called him to dinner, so he left the room. I didn’t. I just sat there, tears welling up in my eyes. How do you explain to your children that in this country, a country that is supposed to represent freedom and justice for all, it’s legal to exterminate children in the place where they should be safest? How do you tell a child who knows nothing of motherhood except unconditional love that there are mothers willing to end their babies’ lives, just like that?
It’s impolitic to talk about this at all, of course. I can’t have a discussion this rational with many adults, because somehow we’ve come to a place in our national discourse where we have to “agree to disagree” over whether dismembering an unborn child is murder. Both sides of the argument have heard the same positions laid out again and again, countless times. It’s a rhetorical war, a sort of endless cultural détente, that keeps us civil and goes nowhere.
But children know. Show a 2-year-old a picture of a 12-week-old fetus and ask them to tell you what it is, and they immediately point and say, “Baby!” Their minds are simple. They have not yet developed the capacity for guile, for nuancing away the truth of a thing. A toddler will come right out and ask you why you’re so fat. A kindergartener will tell you that your cooking tastes bad. They don’t mean anything by it, they just don’t know any better. They see reality for what it is and call it that way.
I mourn for this country. I mourn for a people who can’t see what a six-year-old boy can see. I mourn for adults who have become so intellectually dishonest that they refuse to acknowledge the humanity of a helpless baby.
How can you explain such incomprehensible evil to the noble mind of a child? It’s not the kind of thing they can process. There is no room in their way of thinking for such self-deception.
I wish they didn’t have to know. But it will be their fight soon enough. Evil thrives when it is hidden. It needs to be dragged out into the light. They are the second-generation survivors of Roe v. Wade, just as I am the first. 40 years of this senseless bloodshed in what was once the greatest nation on Earth?
How will we survive it? I don’t know for sure. But the people who love children keep having them, and the people who want the freedom to kill them don’t. Maybe it will just come down to a demographic equation. I can’t say. But the truth is on our side. We can’t lose this battle forever. I give humanity too much credit.
After all, children can see the truth. Maybe if we teach them now, they won’t forget it when they’re old enough to complicate things.
(Images courtesy of Alicia Skojec Photography)