Some of my dearest friends are pro-choice, and some of my dearest friends are pro-life. I have known these women and men to varying degrees over the course of my lifetime, and I can say beyond doubt that regardless of their political leanings, none is even remotely a monster.
Despite the incredible popularity on social media of polarizing people according to ideology to punish them, I’ve never felt an urge to maliciously single out my liberal friends to publically castigate them, even though their beliefs stand in radical, stark contrast to mine. Nowhere is this contrast more glaringly evident than in the abortion debate, because there is no suitable compromise on terminating a life. Either the baby lives, or it is aborted.
I have engaged in numerous thoughtful discussions with pro-choice women about abortion, some very heated ones, but have yet to find common ground on the issue of the rights of a woman superseding the rights of the infant, because ultimately there isn’t any. For the Left, all rights go to the woman without question or exception. But in all my experience with pro-choice friends or acquaintances, I would never characterize them as monsters capable of doing what we’ve seen in the recently released videos that exposed the horrific practices of Planned Parenthood.
Even as the abortion industry and its supporters come up with new and cleverer ways to defend the wholesale destruction of human life, I am still hesitant to call all those who are pro-choice evil. After all, they don’t behave as evil people. They love their kids, they volunteer at schools, they attend church, they’re civically minded, hard-working people who love their families as much as I love mine.
Good People Can Do Bad Things
So how is it these good people who do good things and who are a lot like me support a practice so vile it is without question straight from pits of hell? Simple: because good people can justify and do evil things.
Shedding light on this idea is Clay Jones from Biola University, who has spent the last several decades studying the psychology of genocide. His research exploring human depravity attempts to answer the hard questions about humanity, such as: Who are these people who commit mass murders? How do normal citizens slaughter their own countrymen without so much as a second thought?
The answer, as Jones found out, may be more disturbing than the question, and unfortunately probably explains why Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, is more familiar with the human condition than most of us are comfortable admitting.
In his paper, “We Don’t Take Human Evil Seriously So We Don’t Understand Why We Suffer,” Jones confronts evil head-on by meticulously going through some of history’s more egregious moments, from Nazism to the Soviet Union to the Japanese in Nanking. The list of atrocities perpetuated by men on their friends and neighbors is truly staggering. It is almost unbearable to read, it’s so brutal.
The Banality of Evil
More bewildering than the brutality, if that is even possible, is the truth about who committed these acts of horror. Jones reveals to us through the eyewitness accounts of those who were victimized by these atrocities the frightening normalness of people who perpetrate evil. There is nothing significantly different about them either in manner or appearance than any other person you might meet on the street, or even have in your home for dinner.
Jones explains it this way: “When you read genocide studies you find that most murderers also did many nice things: walked the family dog, baked cookies, gave gifts, helped a friend in need or played with their children just before or after they committed atrocities.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, someone Jones references, spent years in the Soviet gulag and said of captors, “Where did this wolf-tribe appear from among our people? Does it really stem for our own roots? Our own blood? It is our own. And just so we don’t go around flaunting too proudly the white mantle of the just, let everyone ask himself: ‘If my life had turned out differently, might I myself not have become just an executioner?’ It is a dreadful question if one answers it honestly.”
Solzhenitsyn is identifying about himself and his countrymen what I have come to understand about my own self, friends, and family: we are all capable of justifying and committing extreme evil under the right circumstances.
‘It Can Happen Anywhere’
Understandably, this doesn’t sit well with most people. No one wants to believe good people are capable of doing or supporting horrible things; especially that they themselves are capable of doing such things. But history tells us it’s true. Consider this quote Jones offers from historian George Kren and psychologist Leon Rappaport based on their work on genocide:
What remains is a central, deadening sense of despair over the human species. Where can one find an affirmative meaning in life if human beings can do such things? Along with this despair there may also come a desperate new feeling of vulnerability attached to the fact that one is human. If one keeps at the Holocaust long enough, then sooner or later the ultimate truth begins to reveal itself: one knows, finally, that one might either do it, or be done to. If it could happen on such a massive scale elsewhere, then it can happen anywhere; it is all with in the range of human possibility…
Kren and Rappaport leave little room for hope in their assessment of humanity. They are right. Save for the grace of God, all of us can find a justification for keeping an aborted baby alive to better procure the brain by cutting through the child’s face. Even writing that sentence causes a reflexive gut-check deep in my soul, but my pro-choice friends seem to stomach the horror of this with little or no effect.
A Few Explanations
One explanation for this lies in our incredible capacity for willful ignorance. Support for mass ignorance is well-documented, but probably none more so than on the Germans who knew about the neighboring death camps and did nothing.
Another explanation comes from mass, systematic desensitization. For the past 40 years the abortion industry has systematically chipped away at our national sense of decency and left us with a moral penury that now concludes, without reservation, that taking the life of one’s child is no big deal.
I’m old enough to remember the zealous outrage ’80s feminists had because conservatives dared to suggest women would ever be so cavalier and callous as to treat abortion as a form of birth control. Yet here we are today with killing one’s unborn child on demand as a woman’s right. It is no accident.
The abortion industry, specifically Planned Parenthood, with a skilled slight of hand, has distracted the general public from being too curious about the mechanics of abortion. They’ve done this brilliantly through mass manipulation, by creating “rights” where there are none (women do not have a right to government-provided birth control and tampons), exploiting women’s fears, viciously pillorying the opposition, and raking in a tidy sum along the way.
Most importantly, Planned Parenthood and its ilk have hit upon what murderous regime leaders have known for centuries: normal, good people will believe and justify anything under the right circumstances.