I read a couple of interesting articles yesterday. Lynn Beisner (a pseudonym) has an article over at Role/Reboot entitled “I Wish My Mother Had Aborted Me.”
And she’s not kidding.
She explains how aborting her would have been better for her mother: made it more likely that she would finish high school and go to college, saved her from poverty. Then she explains why it would have been better for her if her mother had aborted her: Her mother beat her, they were poor, and so preyed upon by others.
If this were an anti-choice story, this is the part where I would tell you how I overcame great odds and my life now has special meaning. I would ask you to affirm that, of course, you are happy I was born, and that the world would be a darker, poorer place without me.
And then comes the saddest part of Beisner’s article:
The world would not be a darker or poorer place without me. Actually, in terms of contributions to the world, I am a net loss. Everything that I have done—including parenting, teaching, researching, and being a loving partner—could have been done as well if not better by other people. Any positive contributions that I have made are completely offset by what it has cost society to help me overcome the disadvantages and injuries of my childhood to become a functional and contributing member of society.
I appreciate Beisner’s searing honesty. She has taken the pro-choice philosophy to one of only two logical conclusions. You can either be an elitist like Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, confident that you are worthy of existence but wanting to improve the world by keeping other, less fit, people from existing. Or you can be a true egalitarian like Beisner and conclude that you’re not worthy of life either.
And that brings me to the second article.
Lynn Beisner, meet Chip MacGregor, a literary agent I once pitched to, and whose blog I sometimes read. MacGregor writes this week about Jim Peabody, a man who entered MacGregor’s life after his father’s suicide when MacGregor was 12:
Jim Peabody pushed a broom in a steel mill and probably never made more than $25,000 a year. He died at age 40 of liver cancer. You’ve never heard his name before — he didn’t write any books or get on television or run for office. He wasn’t a celebrity, or gain any national attention. But Jim is one of the most significant men I ever met. He took a bunch of teenage boys who didn’t have fathers, or who were from rough homes, or who were living in the thriving town of Witch Hazel, Oregon, and showed us all how to be men. Today I can point to writers, teachers, chemical engineers, US Navy officers, pastors, and solid husbands and fathers who are all at least partially the result of Jim’s work in their lives. . . . AND I can point to dozens of other lives that were changed because the guys Jim helped turned around and helped others. There have been hundreds of people influenced because of Jim’s life — a more-or-less “unsuccessful” guy who ended up living a significant life.
Our lives, like rocks chucked into a pond, make ripples that keep on going. “It won’t be until the end of time,” says MacGregor, “that the full influence of a life can be measured.”
By her own admission, Beisner loves her mother. I suspect she loves her child (or children) as well. And, in loving them, she changes them. And they, in turn, change others.
It doesn’t make sense–in fact, it takes an amazing bit of chutzpah–to think you know the final value of a life, even your own.
People aren’t widgets, Ms. Beisner. Your mother might have had other kids after you, and they might have been better at this-that-or-the-other than you are. But none of them would have been you.
And none of them would have written just the article you did; touched my life–and made me think–in just the way you have.
So, I know you didn’t ask, but I’ll say it anyway: I’m glad you were born. Because–you guessed it–the world would have been a darker, poorer place without you.