I recently had an AFA friend and supporter call me on the phone and point out a simple oversight in one of our AFA Journal articles.
“In your pro-life story you discuss women becoming targets for abortion,” he began in a friendly manner. “But there’s just one problem: They are not just women; they are mothers. The abortion industry doesn’t have much interest in women; it is only concerned with mothers. Our focus should be to remember that those women are indeed mothers.”
His correction was simple, and even seemed too obvious, but it was very true. How often our way of thinking is subtly twisted. Even when we seek to campaign for our moral beliefs, we lose the right approach to being most effective. In a sense, we are brainwashed. We let someone quietly change the terms, and at the same time, we lose footing in our stance.
Just a word seems like a slight thing. But words invoke emotion. The word “mother” carries much more weight and a sense of attachment than the more distant and independent “woman.” There must be a logical connection in order to keep up with a debate. It is hard to gain any ground in an argument about something when the subject of the argument is always being diverted to a peripheral issue.
For example, every pro-life effort is always rebuffed with the declaration that it is anti-woman. But in reality, the issue does not inhibit or involve every woman. The abortion business hopes to make a living of those who are mothers. But to admit that would be to let out an ugly secret that abortion is not just making a slight adjustment to a health issue or lifestyle; it is the taking of human life and the destruction of a family member.
That is one example, but there are countless ways and issues in which our minds and consciences are re-engineered to overlook the realities and numb our responses. So we have people who are made “anti-abortion” instead of “pro-life.” And we have to consider someone’s “sexual orientation” instead of acknowledging that they are making a “sexual choice or preference.”
Over time, we come into so much exposure to these false terms, that we fail to react. We even begin to think of it as positive, as “pro,” as an attitude that is necessary. We lay aside the words that best describe our convictions and compel action, to take up words that instead seem more pleasing and more polished.
In Anne of Green Gables, Anne argues against the famous line from Shakespeare: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” A rose wouldn’t seem as nice if it was called a skunk cabbage, she reasons. The reader recoils instantly. No, a skunk cabbage does not sound as sweet. In that case, our reaction is changed, even unreasonably, based on the word being used.
Think about the terms by which you live. Is someone else dictating the way you think through words? Do you react according to reality or according to a name that has been given to you to use? Make a conscious decision about the words you will use and ensure that they describe reality, instead of altering it.