A lot of us are on the wrong path these days. It is a path that begins with incivility, descends into intolerance and progresses to bullying, threats and, ultimately, violence.
The alleged harassment and intimidation that preceded the closing of Fort Wayne's Planned Parenthood Health Center this week is near the dark end of that path. It's important to respect the views of those who considered the center to be aligned with values they don't share. But principled opponents of abortion need to be careful what they wish for. If pro-choice advocates can be hounded out of their workplace and made to feel unsafe today, what's to stop someone from trying the same kind of coercion on pro-life organizations and workers?
This kind of behavior diminishes and endangers us all – pro-life and pro-choice, right and left, pro-Trump and anti-Trump.
Bluster, moral posturing and bald-faced lying are in fashion today. These are fundamentally un-American tactics that tear at the fabric of our society, Some of our leaders practice them and others abet them through silence, or reason that bullying is OK as long as the bullies are on our side. Americans of all persuasions, it seems, need to relearn that fundamental principal of morality – the end does not justify the means
It is not OK to yell an obscenity at the president of the United States, or to tell the U.S. Senate majority leader “we know where you live.” It is also not OK to refer to immigrant groups as “infestations,” as though non-Americans are not human beings, but vermin.
It is not OK to refuse to acceptprominent political opponents as customers in a restaurant that serves the public. It is also not OK to make light of the plight of immigrant children with disabilities.
And it is definitely not OK, in today's climate of violence, to call workers at a women's health clinic baby-killers. It wouldn't be OK even if Planned Parenthood's Fort Wayne clinic performed legal abortions – which it did not.
But, ultimately, this isn't about saving fetuses or rescuing toddlers from cages – though one might think people with those two concerns could find some common ground.
It's about being decent and respectful to those with whom we disagree. It's about using the courts and the legislatures and our right of free speech to resolve problems.
People who push their beliefs on others are thugs. People who truly value human life do not use it as a catchphrase to bludgeon those who disagree with them. People who believe in a merciful and caring God do not go about persuading others through threats, intimidation and the suggestion of violence.
We can stand up for our common values, or we can watch from the sidelines as the worst among us shred the basic rules of human decency. Expressing our beliefs openly should be everyone's right. But each of us must summon the clarity and courage to counter the bullies of the left and the right. A good place to start would be here and now, in this community. Pro-life and pro-choice advocates alike should refuse to allow the tactics of Planned Parenthood's shadowy foes to prevail.