By SOPHIE DRUFFNER
Today is the forty-second anniversary of Roe versus Wade. Today, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion was legal through the first three months of a pregnancy, and with the accompanying case of Doe v. Bolton, nine months.
But I don’t want to talk about abortion. I want to talk about time and hope. I want to take you back to a time where organized killing of a certain group of people was legal, a time which is now left to history books, empty concentration camps, and acertain Diary of a Young Girl.
The lie was cast in iron, invincible, unchanged since the seventy years past when those who entered the camp saw it for the first time—“Arbeit macht frei.” But it was not the lie which was so shocking, for I had seen it written in accounts and stories. Instead, it was the bigness, the largesse, the endless space of the area which we were standing it. The camp was millions of meters of light gray gravel, extending into eternity. I wondered how many thousands or millions of feet had marched here, had been wounded here, had died here. I looked around and saw the barbed wire, separated from the gravel by several feet of blooming green grass. The grass was so green, so lively, against the grayness of the area and the sadness of the bright day. Then the tour guide told our orchestral group that people had run across that short feet of grass into the electric fence, wishing to end their pain once and for all. And then I saw to my right a horrid portrayal of corpses in the fence, also in blackened iron, two stories tall, and even the grass lost its allure. The stick figures were twisted and writhing, at once part of the fence but also apart from it. Although the figures had no faces, I could picture their screams.
Then there were the Blocks which the people of Dachau had burned after the Nazis had left. The townspeople wished to burn the evidence of their hate so that the world would wear blinkers. They wished to eradicate the memories of the corpses, built up in graves, because the coal supply had run out at the crematorium. They wished to take away the memories of the American soldiers’ liberation, and the subsequent forced march of the German people of Dachau into the camp—Look at what you have done, look at what your indifference has wrought. Look what happened when you were warm in your beds, when you complained about having to go with less because of the war. Look and see.
I looked and I saw too but I survived. I looked at my sin, and my friends’ sin, and the sin of all who look and refuse to see. For it was not just the Germans who did this to the hapless political prisoners, homosexuals, Jews, and other lost ones in the camp. It was the time that I and my smirking sixth-grade friend wrote ten things that we hated about a boy in my class, and then showed it to him. It was the time that I had gossiped about how a girl a grade above me talked so properly, so fake, without knowing that she had undergone years of speech pathology because of a defect in her upper lip. It was all the times that my immaturity and indifference had caused some to laugh at the expense of others.
I looked again and saw the altar just outside of the crematoriums on which people of all faiths had celebrated Easter Mass together on the day of liberation of the Dachau camp—Easter Sunday. It was right outside of the gas chamber, directly in front of the ovens. It was small and white and had words written in all languages on it, words of joy and hope. For these people too were resurrected from the dirt and death; they had become new through the life of liberation.
This is our hope, our future. Outside of the gas chambers, outside of the instruments of torture and killing, stood the place the prisoners had forgiven their captors. Here, the prisoners forgave the thieves in the night, the Reich which had stolen their family, friends, and homes.
We, too, need to forgive. It is easy to look upon those who advocate to destroy young lives with hate. But that is not what Jesus called us to do. Jesus, the ultimate Innocent, was killed on the cross, and yet he and his disciples forgave us, we who killed him with very time we chose not to love God, self, or neighbor. One day the fight against abortion will be won, but today, we need to forgive those who fight against us; they know not what they do.