Did I Leave the Left or Did the Left Leave Me?
Twenty years ago, I knew who my friends were. Long hair, tye-dyes and bell bottoms were our uniform. I also knew that what we all believed in was right: freedom, peace, love, compassion, and life.
We fought against the war in Vietnam because it was killing our brothers and sisters and their children. We demonstrated against CIA actions in Central and South America because we thought that "Kill a Commie for Christ" was just a tad misconceived. We stood side by side with our African-American brothers and sisters because Klansmen, Nazis, and all-American bigots were killing them for kicks. We marched for women's rights and the ERA.
We still fight to end the torture of animals in laboratories, the abuses heaped on helpless farm animals, the animals caught in traps and the fur-farm victims who are skinned alive to satisfy the vanity of the obscenely rich.
Over these two decades we have had many causes, struggles, battles. All of them to preserve the ideals we knew were right. And we were as one. We loved life and would fight forever to protect its sanctity.
But today something is wrong. I look around me at the animals rights demonstrations, at the vigils against the death penalty, at the Earth Day celebration, and the anti-apartheid rallies. All of these people who are my family in the struggle for life are against me. I cannot speak to my friends about THE ISSUE.
When did I lose my sanity? When did my world become so distorted that I stopped seeing the truth? How can I not know that true compassion is saving whales, dolphins, dogs, mice, minks, South Americans, Brazilian rain forests and even convicted murderers but not an unborn baby?
And how did it happen that these right-wing, fascist, capitalist, imperialist, industrial-military exploiters of everything that lives can feel the same as I do about abortion?
In Buddhism there is a meditation which aims at achieving mental equanimity, the viewing of all sentient beings in the exact same light. In it, the meditator visualizes an enemy, a friend and an acquaintance about whom s/he has no feelings. The meditator thinks of why s/he has certain feelings about each, then remembering that each of the three has been in a different relationship with the meditator in previous lives, reverses the feelings about each, visualizing the friend as the enemy and the enemy as the friend.
Somehow this meditation has become reality. I am joined with those I distrust most and alienated from those I love. The result of this, the end product of my respect for all life as sacred and equal is my complete isolation. I could have friends among the "left" but we could never agree about abortion. I could have friends in the "pro-life" camp but their idea of life seems too selective.
So I remain alone, wondering who can explain this all to me? Who can clear up this mystery? Is it not hypocrisy to call one's self pro-life but support wars and the death penalty, ignore starvation, use products tested on animals, eat meat, wear leather? Is it not hypocrisy to scream and yell to save every life but one's own unborn child, especially when one admits one can't be sure it is not life?
Somehow it seems that, if we have dedicated our lives to fighting for the rights of the unprotected, that we must fight on for the protection of the most vulnerable of all life. If we are wrong in seeking to protect that life, the end result will only be more babies born. However, if they are wrong and the slaughter continues, they will have murdered their own children and helped others do the same. Is this not cause for tears?Elliot Klein
Reprinted from SisterLife