I set out to write a travel blog, but I never anticipated the story coming to me as it did. I envisioned writing this first entry more about the beginning of my journey. Sometimes you have to go with what you get. I didn’t think my commentaries on America would involve such devisive issues. Now it seems a little naive of me in retrospect.
Before coming here I had my notions of what Mississippi was: backwards, ignorant in the racist sort of way, overweight, bible thumping. So when I drove by the intersection of highway 20, and saw the scene of little kids and adults handing out flyers and holding posters of aborted fetuses, my first reaction is one of disgust and shock. Not that I didn’t expect it from Mississippi. I didn’t give it time to digest. A second later I am snapping a photo and posting on Twitter. My intentional posting was a condescending one. It took for me to turn the corner for me to I realize that this is what I’m doing. This is what my trip is about. Where is America right now? As much as the food, the people, the music, the landscape are America. So too are the issues that divide us. I am not delusional or looking for a kumbaya moment. I snapped some photos, locked in and began interviewing
I was surprised by some of the responses I received, one young man informed me he protested in front of the Jackson clinic a couple times, I asked him about the abortion photos on display and if he thought that was in good taste. “Sometimes people need to see it.” I followed by asking what if a woman was driving by who had an abortion. How do you think she’d feel? His answer was surprisingly callous. “She should be reminded of what she did”. As far children go he had this to say. “You don’t want them growing up killing their babies.” Now this wasn’t a normal response but I did get some support for his sentiment from another young man I interviewed. He had also protested in Jackson.
Not all of the pro life supporters were so extreme. I did find well spoken thought felt opinions on the subject, two come to mind. An elderly couple I interviewed dealt with the issue with such compassion. I felt no contempt, no malice. An objection purely of love and the faith they grew up with. “If I could talk to a young woman before she made a decision. It’s a decision you can never take back. That baby just wants love he or she deserves a chance to live. Please do not take its life away before he gets a breath the air, see the sun, feel warmth of touch. Please consider adoption. Let someone hug him, kiss him, give him the love he deserves. Plenty of people would want your baby.” If only they were the forefront of this pro-life movement maybe it wouldn’t have the black eye abortion terrorist give it. Those who hypocritically blow up clinics and shoot doctors to “protect life” only give the movement a black eye. Extremism serves little purpose except to be an image to point out that they are all crazy. That is clearly not the case but such a case can be made when all you see are the crazies. All it takes is a chance encounter and a few conversations to change your mind. Agree or disagree there are rational people on both sides of the issue.
As I write this story from Mississippi the landscape is changing. The debate continues. Other states are beginning to crack down on abortions. Kansas for one http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42362636/42364334, other states like New York face a crisis point. To the point that abortion the rate is nearly double the National average rising to nearly a whopping 40% http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/nyregion/07abortion.html?_r=1.To many in Mississippi this is a national moral dilemma and goes against the fabric of who they are. The prospect of using abortion as means of birth control has many up in arms.
Be on the lookout for part two: Tuesday April 5