Respect for life involves more than bumper stickers; it must envelope our entire life
By Tony Staley
Sunday will begin the annual observance of Respect Life
Month in the U.S. Catholic Church.
Although most of us probably think first of abortion, our
need to "Respect Life" must go far beyond making every
effort to stop the taking of lives in the womb.
We also must respect: our own individual self and our life;
the lives of our families; the lives of all those we know;
the lives of people everywhere - even those we don't know,
even those we dislike or consider to be our enemies.
In other words, Respect Life has to be more than a statement
against abortion on a bumper sticker, or in a petition at
Mass, or in a letter to a politician or a newspaper, or at a
protest outside an abortion clinic.
Respect Life must be a way of living. It must include eating
properly; daily exercise; not smoking; drinking only in
moderation; and taking time to pray and relax, and to
partake in entertainment and the company of others.
It must include voting wisely. Sometimes that means deciding
which is the lesser of two evils: voting for a politician
who opposes abortion, the public funding of pre-natal and
palliative care, assistance for the homeless, and who favors
capital punishment - or voting for a politician whose views
are exactly opposite of that.
Respect Life means living by the highest moral principles
and passing those high standards along to our children and
all we meet both by what we say and what we do.
Respect Life means volunteering at a homeless shelter or in
a Big Brother/Big Sister program. Respect Life means serving
as a volunteer in a hospice program, as a visitor to a jail
or prison, or to a nursing home.
Respect Life means going beyond one's own economic interests to consider if it's more important for me to have yet one more possession or for someone I don't know to have a meal or a place to sleep.
Respect Life means celebrating life, living joyously and infecting everyone we meet with that sense of joy.
Respect Life means treating each day and each moment with respect and to make Respect Life Sunday and Respect Life Month envelope the entire year.
Respect Life Month and the ending of abortion are good places to start. We just can't stop there.