The Issue that Tore a Country Asunder
In the future, it will be clear to all: A person’s a person, no matter how small.
As a teenager growing up in the early years of the 22nd century in the former “United States of America,” I listened intently as the old woman tried to explain stories that her mother and grandmother had told her about life in the old country 100 years ago. It seemed strange to me that something that seemed so obviously wrong could be accepted as a fundamental “right.”
“I just don’t get it,” I offered, as my mind tried to grasp what I was hearing. “You say that the old country used to have something called the ‘Constitution’ that many people said was sacred to them. It was supposed to be a set of guiding principles to help offer clarity to the citizens and leaders. Where in that document did it say people could treat others as less-than-human?”
“Well, it didn’t,” replied the old woman. “But back then, society didn’t see it as being wrong. You see, for most of the last half of the 20th century, all people ever heard is that there were too many people. And the idea that women and men could actually have different, but complementary, roles was scorned and mocked. Women needed to be free of constraints! That’s what they taught us. That’s what we heard in school. So, some in leadership positions started being successful in convincing society that the only way to rid ourselves of these old-fashioned notions was to treat the preborn as less-than-human. By convincing the majority that this idea was true, it was seen as acceptable – even responsible – to limit the population by killing off nearly 1/4 of all babies before they were born.”
“But why wasn’t it obvious to everyone that this was wrong? Why wasn’t it clear that just because a person looks different doesn’t make them less-than-human?”
“I know how hard it is to see why people couldn’t or wouldn’t change something that was clearly so wrong. But the times were different. There were some good people on both sides of the issue who tried to serve the country well, but this issue was a political juggernaut. Many just didn’t have the courage to go against the tide, even though they knew it was wrong. There were even preachers and religious men and women who completely changed their mind on this one subject – some overnight - just so they could get the votes of their political party. Power is a seductive mistress, my dear. Many just can’t resist the temptation, no matter the cost.”
“But how could someone DO that? There are still statues of many of these people all over the land. How can we tolerate those statues still standing? We should tear them down!” I said.
The old woman responded, “Dear, that’s not how we treat history. You can’t simply erase it. Those statues, instead, remind us of the imperfect nature of all human beings. Some people in our past strove to serve the country and accomplished many things, and yet they could still be blind – or lack courage – to speak up for the voiceless when there were so many loud voices all around them.”
“My older brother tells me that this issue is what finally led to what they now call, ‘The Great Divide.’ Depending on who you talk to, some say this was a real shame. Others say it was healthy and allowed the country to finally divide into 2 separate nations – ‘The States of Diversity’ and ‘The United Confederacy.’ It’s weird because the ‘Diverse’ states are anything but ‘diverse’, as most everyone thinks the same things, and several of those states don’t even touch the others. Some of them are more than 2000 miles apart!”
“Yes, I know little one”, she said. “Looking back now, it’s hard to make sense of it. We did have a president back in 2024, when we were still one country, who tried to pull the Union together by resolving this issue once and for all, but it was just too fractured at that point. So, ‘The Great Divide’ was the result. Now, the two countries won’t even trade with each other and we all suffer because of that. Hard to believe a country could collapse over one issue.”
“But even in the Confederacy, there are people who still think killing the preborn is okay!” I exclaimed. “Even where it’s illegal, you still have some communities that work around those laws by limiting their rights and acting like they should be treated as second-class citizens.”
The old woman leaned back in her chair and sighed and said, “Maybe someday… maybe someday... we’ll all recognize that a person is a person, no matter how small.”