On Abortion

"No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother."
-Margaret Sanger (Founder of Planned Parenthood)
Today's topic shouldn't even need to be discussed. However, considering our culture today, it seems that it does. Two challenges have been made for today, the day of Tuesday, September 29th. Planned Parenthood has issued a challenge to wear pink on this day, supporting their organization and a woman's right to choose. A counter-challenge was made to wear red on the same day, representing the innocent blood that they shed, and thus, opposing Planned Parenthood. These challenges show that this is a big issue in our society. So, sadly, the topic must be discussed.

Where do I begin? Where can I possibly start the analysis on this subject? I suppose the only place to start is to look at whether this is a living baby or just a clump of cells. After all, the entirety of the discussion depends on the answer here. And of course, the answer is that they are living babies. Why do I say this? Because children have survived abortion attempts. Other children have been born early in emergency situations, during a time when it would have been legal to abort them, and have lived. Some of these are children that I know. The very fact that this is possible shows that the babies are alive. If they were just clumps of cells, then they would never survive abortion attempts, because there would be nothing to survive. It would just be the removal of some tissue, rather than killing a baby. And of course, since it wouldn't be killing, there would be no survival involved, because it was never alive to begin with. But babies have survived. Babies have been born while abortions would still be legal. This clearly shows that it is a living baby, not a clump of cells.
Adam4d.com comics regarding this topic:
Subjective Life
Jeremiah and Abortion
Does Slavery ever Bother You?

To expand on this topic of whether or not the child is alive, we must ask what we know about it. That is to say, can you prove with 100% certainty that it isn't alive? If it is alive, then knowingly killing it is murder. If you don't know whether it's alive or not, then you shouldn't do anything that could kill it. You don't get to say, "well, we don't know that it's alive," because you don't know that it's not alive either. The only situation in which abortion is acceptable is if it isn't a living baby, and you know with absolute certainty that it isn't a living baby. So, can you provide proof that it isn't alive? I doubt it.
Further reading/source for this logical chain:
If You're Not Sure, Don't Run it Over
Don't Know What a Fetus Is? Here Are Your Options.
"I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born."
-Ronald Reagan
The next area to be looked at is whether down syndrome or other birth defects have any bearing on this topic. The answer here is clearly "no." A life is still a life, regardless of whether or not they have any sort of birth defect. After somebody is born, it is not legal to kill that person just because they have a mental disorder, or a physical disorder, or because they're annoying you, or any other reason. Birth defects do not make the baby less alive if it is alive, or more alive if it is not alive.

Well, what about in situations of rape? Should an abortion be legal then? Rape is a terrible thing, but again I have to say that no, it doesn't excuse an abortion. Imagine a scenario in which a woman is attacked in a dark alley at night and beaten up. But instead of raping her, the attacker shoves a one-year-old child into her hands and runs away. Is it okay to kill this child? Of course not! You can talk all you want about how the woman isn't ready, or doesn't want it, or can't handle the responsibility, but the child is still just that: a living child. The child can be brought to an orphanage, but should not be murdered, under any circumstances!
 "It seems to me as clear as daylight that abortion would be a crime."
-Mahatma Gandhi
Of course, the main issue that's brought up today is that of women's rights. After all, isn't it the woman's choice? Logically, the answer here is once again, no! I do not have the right to choose to kill another human being, no matter how much they inconvenience me. Does this mean that I have no rights? Of course not; rather, it means that the other person does have rights. The woman of course has the right to make certain decisions, but those rights end when it involves the removal of another person's rights. The baby, if it is a living human being, has the right to life, and nobody can remove that right from it. The only way that abortion is acceptable is if, as shown earlier, it could be proven that the baby is not alive, and therefore, has no rights. If the baby is alive, then his or her right to life triumphs over the mother's right to convenience.
Adam4d.com comic regarding this issue:
Freedom and Rights for All Women
"When we consider that women are treated as property it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit."
-Elizabeth Cady Stanton
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."
-Mother Teresa
There are, of course, a few remaining objections. I have heard from several that we ought to have our focus on those children who have already been born. I absolutely agree, those who have already been born are important, and we should do what we can to help them. This does not, however, negate the importance of those who are still in the womb and are being killed daily.

Ultimately, we must look at the topic of abortion and decide where we stand. Regardless of whether other topics are important as well (e.g. women's rights, post-birth orphans, etc.) abortion still must be dealt with. You must either prove that these are not living beings that are being killed, or you must call for an end to abortion right now, until such a time as you can prove that they are not alive (if indeed you even can, in spite of the previously explained evidence to the contrary).
Adam4d.com comic regarding this issue:
Silence in the Face of Evil

Women have the right to choose- unless that choice infringes on the rights of another human being. And unborn children must be assumed to be alive unless it can be proven that they aren't (which, considering the evidence, I don't believe is possible). We ought to take a stand on the issue of abortion and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
"I certainly supported a woman's right to choose, but to my mind the time to choose was before, not after the fact."
-Ann B. Ross

Being Right and Wrong

"You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it."
-Malcolm X
A while back, I was watching a speech about creation vs. evolution. It was only three minutes long, as it was for a class that I was helping with, but I was still rather exited when I first heard the topic. By the end of the speech, I was rather disappointed. The speaker had, as I had expected, taken my own side in the issue. But his speech had been based entirely on the logical fallacy called personal incredulity.

A common evolutionist argument against creationists is that they only believe in the Bible because that's what they were taught. That is to say, they were brainwashed at a young age and never bothered to check whether what they were saying was true or not before spreading it around. A common creationist argument against evolutionists is... well, the exact same thing. That children are stuffed into public schools (A.K.A., propaganda machines) and brainwashed to believe in evolution, even though no real evidence exists for it. So, are the evolutionists correct, or the creationists? In this area, both.

The issue, of course, is that people believe what they want to believe. Republicans are Republicans because that's what makes them comfortable. Democrats are Democrats because that's what makes them comfortable. Creationists and evolutionists believe what they do because that's what makes them feel good. This means that someone can have the correct opinion, but have entirely the wrong reasons. Just like the speech I heard, which took my own stance, but used a logical fallacy as justification.

Not everybody wants to believe what they were taught to believe, of course. But they still believe what they want to believe, regardless of whether it's what they were taught or not. They believe what makes them feel comfortable. So the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to believe that the Republicans are right? Do you want to believe that the Democrats are right? Or do you want to believe the truth, wherever it may lead? Not what feels like the truth, I should add. After all, nobody is comfortable if they're aware that what they believe is a lie. So not what feels true, but what is true. What you believe may very well be true. But do you believe it because it's true, or do you believe something that happens to be true?
"You presumed that because a claim has been poorly argued, or a fallacy has been made, that the claim itself must be wrong."

Good Feels Good (Sometimes)

"When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad."
-Abraham Lincoln

People have a way of doing what feels right. This idea is pushed heavily in our culture, from Disney-
"Always let your conscience be your guide."
To the furthest corners of the internet.
"Never be ashamed of doing what feels right. Decide what you think is right and stick to it."
-Melchor Lim
Even Star Wars has been penetrated by these ideas.
 "You must do what you feel is right, of course."
-Obi-Wan Kenobi
The obvious assumption is that if something feels right, it is right. However, we must recognize that what's right isn't always what feels good. Sometimes something feels right, but isn't. It is our job to discover these situations where we're simply following our hearts instead of searching for truth.

An example may be found in any situation where two people have conflicting feelings. For this, let's take two Christians discussing the rather controversial topic of homosexuality. Person Amelia feels that we ought to support homosexuals, even if we disagree with them. She feels that we shouldn't make a big deal out of it or make them feel like they're doing something wrong, because this would hurt them. Person Brynn, on the other hand, feels that supporting homosexuals in their behavior would be wrong. She feels that we shouldn't pretend that homosexuality is okay, because doing so would make them feel more comfortable in their sin, which would bring them deeper into spiritual death. She thinks that what's best for them is to help them understand that what they're doing is wrong.

Persons Amelia and Brynn have two opposing feelings pertaining to what is right. Therefore, at least one of them is wrong. Whichever one it is should therefore change her ways- even though it may not feel good or right, she knows that it really is, and that her feelings are mistaken. Another application of this is a hard truth that needs to be told. It doesn't feel right to tell a friend something that will cause them pain. It's difficult, because nobody wants to hurt their friends. But wouldn't it be better to cause them some pain now, to help them avoid further pain in the future? In this case, you must act against what feels right and act on what you know is right.

In our culture, it's common for people to do what feels right. If anybody tries to tell them they're wrong, they fight back. After all, if it feels right, how could it be wrong? But what feels good isn't always what's right. We must look beyond our feelings to see what truly is right, and what truly is wrong.
"Not everything that's right feels good and not everything that feels good is right."
-Constance Chuks Friday

Fake Respect

"Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be."
-Leo Tolstoy
There are, I believe, two types of respect. One type of respect is how you feel about someone, and the other is how you act towards someone. Of course, the two overlap rather frequently. However, I believe also that respect can be faked, and that this happens very often in our modern society. In fact, not only does it happen frequently, but it is celebrated on Facebook and other websites, as well as in real life. This is detrimental to society and to our relationships with others, and yet we have it so deeply ingrained in our heads that oftentimes we act upon it even without realizing it. I believe that we ought to root out this fake respect and pay special attention to how we treat people.

The type of respect that you feel for someone is based off of how you feel about them. (*Gasp!*) You've seen something in them that you admire, or you trust them, or you look up to them, or whatever the cause may be, and you feel respect for them. The respect from your actions is, in a sense, based on this type of respect. When you feel respect towards someone, you act a certain way towards them. Not to say that you become perfect when you're around them; you can still make mistakes or offend them accidentally. But you try not to. You want them to like you. You want to make things easier for them. The way that you feel respect for them may change the specifics of how you behave, but in any case, it will show through your actions. Maybe you'll call them sir. Maybe you'll offer them your seat. Maybe you'll greet them with a firm handshake and a warm smile. But whatever it is, it will show.

Visual respect doesn't require someone to feel respect, however. There is a certain type of respect that is owed to a person simply because they are a human being created by God in His image. In this sense, you can show respect for someone without feeling anything different towards them. Unfortunately, there is also fake respect. Terms that are (sometimes) meant to sound respectful, but really aren't. On a lower level, examples of this might be saying "good for you" when someone has made a point or statement. What this really means is, "I don't like what you said, and I don't even care enough about you to respond properly, so shut up and go away." However, in masking it as something respectful, it actually turns out to be even more disrespectful than the latter statement, because you're not even willing to speak to them openly.

There are all sorts of situations where fake respect can real its ugly head. It may involve speaking to someone in a very sweet manner and using words like "honey" or "dear," but still speaking down to them. It may involve a dismissal of some kind (e.g., "good for you," as mentioned earlier, or "bye bye," often with emphasis on the second "bye"). Once it gets to a higher level, it may be much more subtle, such as simply refusing to directly address what someone has said and instead bringing up nearby topics that may be almost relevant. But in each case, regardless of how in depth it is, it is disguised as respect in one way or another.

Fake respect is often celebrated in our culture- people can become very passive aggressive, and there are even pictures online labeled as "passive aggressive wins." Each time, you don't like what someone is doing, or you simply don't like the person, so, whether consciously or not, you attempt to "get back at them" in a way that's socially acceptable, so that people won't call you out on it. It becomes habitual, and it becomes celebrated, and a passive aggressive nature replaces the basic respect that we ought to have for our fellow human beings. In order to change the habits that we've formed, we must pay special attention to how we're treating people, and recognize that they are valuable, whether we like them or not.
"Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike."
-Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling)

To be Weird, or not to be Weird?

"All forms of madness, bizarre habits, awkwardness in society, general clumsiness, are justified in the person who creates good art."
-Roman Payne

You have no idea how difficult it was to find an opening quotation for today's post. Pretty much every quotation I could find talked about being weird in a positive sense. In fact, this is what I see in my day to day life, as well. I can't recall a friend I have who refers to him or herself as "normal." Everybody I can think of claims to be weird in some way. Some use words like crazy or insane instead, but they all claim to be unusual. I really hope that I'm not the only one who sees the irony in this. Because weirdness has become such a key aspect in our culture, I think it needs to be discussed and analyzed. So today we'll be looking at weirdness. We'll be asking what it is, and if it's really all it's cracked up to be.

To be weird is to be strange; it is to be abnormal, to be out of the ordinary, to be different, to be unusual. Is this a good thing? Perhaps. But then again, perhaps not. What is weird? Imagine if a middle aged man clothed only in a loincloth and a purple hat crawled through your bedroom window and started licking your feet. That would be weird. Does that describe you? No? How about this one: a woman in a neon-green dress starts singing Paradise by Coldplay at the top of her lungs- backwards, in a library, while dancing on the front desk.

At this point, I can (figuratively) hear any number of protests about my application of the word weird. Some might say, "I'm weird, but not that weird." Others may say, "I'm the good kind of weird." I would content, however, that this is equivalent to not being weird at all. People may mean any number of things by saying that they're weird- except that they're actually weird. Hyper and expressive are common examples of what people really mean. Quiet and introverted are also examples. "Weird," as people actually use it, could mean anything.
Of course, people are unique. People are different from eachother. People have different strengths and weaknesses and personalities and likes and dislikes. But what about weird?

To be weird is to be outside of the societal norms. While I do believe that there is a good kind of weird and a bad kind of weird, both would look at first to be the bad kind of weird, because they're both outside of the standards of society. If it looks like the good kind of weird, odds are that it's not actually weird. The bad kind is the type that's directly intrusive, like singing at the top of your lungs in a library. The good kind goes against assumptions and societal implications. I.e., the bad kind goes against society because it goes against people; the good kind goes against people because it goes against society.

I believe that I am mildly weird in a number of ways. In some ways, I try to hide it. There are areas of society that I don't understand. There are things I have said or done that have seriously offended people (even so-called "weird" people) because I didn't answer in the way that society wanted me to. In these areas, I attempt to cover my ignorance. I can, sometimes, act like a functioning member of society by hiding my weirdness. However, there are other areas where I attempt to expand my weirdness. These are areas where I believe society is wrong, and where I am weird because I am specifically and intentionally attacking that area. Because I don't hide these areas, they are more obvious, and people are more often offended by this. I wish I were strong enough to make these areas more pronounced.

When people say that they're weird, they don't really mean that they're weird, as weird tends to be offensive on some level, for one reason or another. What they're trying to do is differentiate themselves from others and make themselves stand out. Of course, when everybody takes a step, everybody is being exactly the same. In the end, the reason for being weird isn't to advertise it, but to fight for the truth.
"Abnormal is so common, it's practically normal."
-Cory Doctorow