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Petals and prudence


Jason Reese February 8th, 2007

You do not have look far these days to spot a political demonstration turned ugly. That is why it is so refreshing to find one focused on the very symbol of beauty. I refer to Rose Day, the day in whi...

You do not have look far these days to spot a political demonstration turned ugly. That is why it is so refreshing to find one focused on the very symbol of beauty. I refer to Rose Day, the day in which droves of Oklahoma citizens gather at the state Capitol to deliver roses to their elected officials as a statement of their anti-abortion stance.
 
Should you stroll under the dome today, Wednesday, you will see what I mean, finding yourself virtually knee-deep in red petals. One is reminded of the great German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as he uses the rose as a symbol of God's love in the final scene of his masterpiece "Faust." Goethe depicts a shower of roses falling from heaven at the very moment in which God snatches Faust out of the grip from below in answer to the prayers of the woman who loved him.
 
A saved life is in one sense what Rose Day attendees have in mind. Now, I realize that not all are convinced that life begins at conception, nor that a zygote is fully a person. But I submit it is always wise to err on the side of caution, in this case protecting even the possibility of life. Allow me to illustrate.
 
A city is preparing to demolish a skyscraper. Before the foreman gives the go-ahead for detonation, he first ensures all people have vacated the premises. If he were not entirely certain the place was empty, common sense would tell him to refrain from proceeding with the destruction procedure. I am neither a scientist nor a theologian; I will not try to dazzle you with either biological expertise or Thomistic reasoning. Rather, my defense of life is founded on that most conservative of virtues: prudence. Circumspection is called for when certainty is absent. Therefore, with something as irreplaceable as life, one ought to tread lightly.
 
Paradoxically, with an issue as divisive as abortion, Rose Day stands as an intriguing display of unity. Rural evangelicals and urban Catholics, people of other faiths and even some with none have come together in the cause of life. They have come together because of deeply held beliefs and prudential judgments. They carry a message in a manner so civil it seems quite novel. In the long run, hearts and minds are not changed by shouting voices and red-faced condemnation, but by example, reason and, yes, appeal to emotion. Rose Day combines the best of each.
 
Notice that I brought up hearts and minds, not laws. Although I think changes in our laws are necessary, there are more and more people who, while they do not wish to change the laws, claim to desire a drastic reduction in abortions. I say we should take them at their word. While we are seeking to change the laws, let us not forget the acts we can do in the meantime to value life. Support adoption, care for women in difficult situations and seek to ensure that each child is welcomed into our community. Together we can build a culture of life in Oklahoma. - Jason Reese
 
Reese is an attorney in downtown Oklahoma City. He lives in Mesta Park with his wife and son.
 
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