Friday, October 31, 2008

Baby Farm, Trash or Miracle Cure?

I read just about the stupidist op-ed piece I have ever seen. It was in "The Michigan Times," the U of M Flint newspaper (available online at if you want to read the piece for yourself). Keep in mind that U of M is where supposedly smart people go.

This young conservative writer urges folks to vote against embryo stem cell research because "these are living people", in reference to unimplanted embryos that are left over from fertility procedures. He knows that unused embryos are often legally destroyed without benefit to anyone, so he proposes a solution.

He proposes that the embryos not be used to save lives, nor that they be destroyed. He instead proposes that baby factories (my phrase) be set up using women as surrogate mothers so that these previously unwanted children can be adopted. He proposes that the adoption system be fixed "so these unborn children [can] be nurtured and given the same opportunity to live their lives as we had to live ours."

Am I alone here in seeing how completely ridiculous his alternate world is? I'm getting visions of Margret Atwood's novel, A Handmaid's Tale (not the movie, it made no sense without the context of the book).

Fixing the "adoption system" (really, the entire child welfare system needs revamping) is a fabulous idea, but first, fix it for the living breathing kids who have been thrown away because of the color of their skin or the imperfection of their health or their parents' crack habit or their being too old for most adoptive parents to feel they can love them due to the fact that they already have minds and hearts of their own, or because their biological moms couldn't care for them since they themselves are barely teenagers.

In order to fix the system, we need to think broader than just adoption options.

We must also fix the sex education programs in the schools. Every child needs access to COMPREHENSIVE sex education, including, but not limited to: self-esteem improvement, Sexually Transmitted Infection facts (not myths, vague warnings or incomplete truths), each teen should have a real-fake baby to care for for at least 72 hours, boys and girls need to be taught how to properly use condoms and why, they need to learn other, safe ways to get off without risking themselves or their futures, they need to practice ways to say no with confidence, they need to be encouraged to have and to follow their dreams, kids need to feel loved by the adults in their lives so they don't feel the need to make a baby to be able to experience unconditional love, teens need sex to be de-mystified so that they are less likely to experiment and explore the mystery themselves, they need to understand that drinking and drugging too often lead to unprotected sex, or even to sexual assault. They need to have a safe place to report sexual assault and to get counseling to restore their sense of personal dignity, security and self-esteem. Have I mentioned that self-esteem is important to nurture in order to keep kids from being sexually active before they are ready? How about now? How about now? How about ALWAYS, every kid should know they are valued as human beings and that their life is too important to the world to waste it on drugs and wasting-killing diseases so some idiot could have a 10 second orgasm, which they could have had safely all by themselves.

That is just a miniscule portion of the needs in order to fix the "adoption system".

Oh yeah, I'd imaginge that in this young white guy's mind, all of these unborn embryos to be incubated in his imaginary baby factory will be white. So, I suppose, those imaginary babies (I have a hard time considering the idea that he could have envisioned babies of color for his dream baby factory farm) actually would have more of a chance of being adopted than most of the parentless kids that I see in the system. They would almost have their own elite white baby-to- families with money system. It could work for them.

What about the biological parents, don't they have any say in this imaginary world in what to do with their own DNA mergings? Or, under this imaginary mandatory baby factory farm, would all of the embryos become the property of the right-angled state?

What about the surrogate moms? Would they get compensated in any way for having the children they bond with taken from them and given to strangers? Or, would an army of women be indentured to be baby cookers totally against their will? (I know this sounds far-fetched, but read A Handmaid's Tale. Don't watch the movie, it's irrelevant to this to this paranoia of mine since it explains nothing about the whys and details of the story.)

The final argument in this editorial opinion, which is as ridiculous as my last paragraph, is "for the state to put citizens in an ethical bind by forcing them to pay for something they morally oppose is the lowest form of disgrace." Obviously, the author, Mike Stechschulte, has no clue about the way things work. For instance: I am morally opposed to most wars, yet my money is constantly used to pay for them. I am morally opposed to corporate welfare, yet my money was just used to borrow 700 Billion dollars from China to subsidize an entire irresponsible corporate system. I am morally opposed to genetically engineered crops, untested for saftey or for long-term sustainability, yet my tax dollars often subsidize companies to grow these potentially dangerous crops. (Not to mention, I sometimes unwittingly purchase and ingest these crops in the form of canola oil, soy milk or other unlabled GM products because our government doesn't require proper and honest labling of these fake foods.) I am morally opposed to the slow but sure demise of the small family farm as my tax dollars pay large agricorporations to destroy local economies and family farms and to pollute ground water, destroy biological diversity and pour foreign oil all over the land in the form of unneeded or overused fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. I am morally oposed to my tax dollars helping large corporations to ship American jobs overseas. I am morally opposed to my tax dollars being used to economically dominate individuals and countries all over the world. I am morally opposed to watching public schools fall apartand to elders having to choose between essential medications and electricity. I am morally opposed to funding "abstinence only" sex education programs because not only do they not work, I believe that they make matters worse by selective indoctrination. I am morally opposed to forcing anyone to bring to term a child conceived of rape or incest (unless the mother freely chooses to do so). I am morally opposed to murdering a woman by default,when terminating her pregnancy could save her life.

Someone recently told me that she loves to celebrate birthdays because the day we are born, "is the day that God said YES! to us." She explained that on that day, we were not stillborn, aborted, miscarried, reabsorbed or killed in childbirth, war or accident before we breathed oxygen. On THAT day, God said YES!!

I believe that if a soul is destined by God to come into this world as a living breathing human being, God will make it so. Whether a fetus is aborted or an embryo is used to save a living human being, God had a hand in all that is and in all that is not.

I believe God endowed humans with free will in order that we can learn to make moral choices on our own. Sometimes moral choices are not as clear cut as our limited human brains can comprehend. Sometimes the moral choice is life. Sometimes the moral choice is not. God understands this because God understands the complexities and frailties not just of human life, but the complexities and frailties of all of life.

On March 26, 1968, God said YES! to me. On Tuesday, I'm saying yes to proposal 2 because I believe that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes we don't like the reasons and sometimes we can't understand the moral complexity of a situation, and may not until we have our first face to face, in person conversation with God. By then, we won't be able to vote anymore.


Thursday, October 30, 2008


I have been trying all night to decide what to write about today that doesn't involve politics or classes. Then, at about 5:52 or 5:53am, I was walking to my car to move to another building at work. I thought I heard a wild whisper coming from above me, "Whoo-Whoo-Whoooo-Whoooo-Whoooo."

I looked up, determined not to get an owl pellet (owl puke embedded with tiny bones of mostly digested smaller animals) or an owl turd to land on my head. I couldn't see an owl at all, and I hadn't heard one on our campus before, despite the fact that there are all kinds of yummy things for owls to eat like baby racoons, groundhogs, squirrels and (my favorite), skunks- yum yum.

After craning my neck for a minute or two, I decided that I must be hearing things. Even though it was chilly out, it is nowhere near the cold of winter, when owls can often be heard trying to entice mates to come and get a little nookie.

Just as I convinced myself that I must have just heard a vehicle, or maybe an early morning dove (even though the voice and intervals weren't quite right), I heard a louder, more insistant, "look at me" sound of:

"Whoo-Whoo-Whoooo-Whoooo-Whoooo!" It was an exact, but louder and (I possibly imagine) a more insistant replica of two short whoos and three slightly longer, whoooos.

I looked again, still, no visual. It made me wish I had a flashlight in my pocket (along with the 6 assorted colors of highlighters, one red pen, two black pens, one sharpie, a little bottle of hand sanitizer, a letter from UM Flint, and car key-wait, no, that was in my hand by then). I still somehow doubt that I could have gotten a visual on my vocal friend.

So often, owls seem to pride themselves on secrecy, unless, of course, they are flying openly flaunting themselves at dusk as happened one time on a friend's farm. It actually swooped the car, twice, then landed by the side of the lane we were driving on. Wow. My heart almost stopped with the beauty and the audacity of THAT magnificent, huge raptor.

The one this morning may have been big and bold like that one, or it may be a little sawhet owl with a big voice. I guess I should look it up. Does anyone know whoo whoo whoooo whoooo whooooo my new friend might be?

Moments like my owl encounters bring me joy and curiosity, excitement and gratitude all at once. I am always surprised when I feel multiple feelings at once. I found out recently that although researchers say that when we think we are multi-tasking, we really aren't thinking about multiple things at once, we are really paying attention to one thing at a time and quickly changing our focus and re-accessing memory about thing after thing, so we think it's simultaneous. I've been really paying attention to my thoughts and thought processes lately, since finding that out. I think the researchers may be right.

Even though I may not be smart enough to think of more than one thing at a time in my multi-tasking fantasy life, I seem to be able to "multi-feel" without noticing any pause or split between my curiosity, gratitude and joy. I have even, once, experienced deep-gut-wrenching grief and ecstatic laughter, joy and appreciation all together. (Crying and laughing at the same time, makes it almost impossible to breathe, but was an amazing cathartic moment in my life.)

Why do I have the ability to feel more than one thing at a time, but not to think of more than one thing at a time? Has anyone done any multi-feeling studies?

Friday, October 17, 2008


I may be reading too much into this but....

Last night, I started reading Barack Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope. From the first page, I've been praying over and over, "Please let him live. Please let him live. Please let him live", just like I did on the night of his nomination acceptance speech. I'm beginning to understand more fully why he has been intentionally reaching out to the younger generation. He is calling for a new conceptualization of what I am learning about in class, known as "civil religion". He is calling for us not to tear one another apart as adversaries (liberals vs. conservatives, Democrats vs. Republicans, environmentalists vs. big oil, etc.) He is inviting us to look, not just INTO one anothers eyes, but to look THROUGH one anothers' eyes, so that we may all see the common ground that we share as humans and as Americans. He wants us to treat one another with the compassion and dignity that each of us deserves. He is calling for us all, polititians and other individuals, to find the best in one another.

I've only just finished the prelude and the first chapter, so I can't wait to see more deeply into his vision.

It seems, sometimes, that it takes the next generation to capture the idealistic dreams and face the surrealistic nightmares that haunt our society in order to face reality with hope and optimism. With each new generation, there are a few elders to lead them toward the hope of justice and Right Living. Martin Luther King and the Kennedy brothers led a whole generation of black and white young people to transform our world forever, for the better. (Their lives were way too short, and I selfishly wish they had lived long enough for me to be a part of the generation that they mentored. I was born 9 days before MLK was murdered, so my memory only comes through other people's words and through witnessing their legacies as I sit in integrated classrooms.)

And now, young people are registering to vote, running local election campaign offices, calling people and working toward carrying the dream outlined by Obama of sharing power in respect and strength in order for our country, and perhaps the world, to erase some of the barbed-wire lines of divisiveness, intolerance and stubbornness. And instead of shooting insults and barbs at one another through the fence, exchanging shoes and eyes and shaking hands upon the common ground of humanity. Recognizing one another's worth and dignity as we walk toward the future with a sense of optimism for the first time in a long time.