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David Franks

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  • A Dream for Human Dignity: Mass. March for Life

    “We Have a Dream”
    2019 Mass. March for Life rally speech

    We have had our dreams.

    All our lives. And when we’ve dreamed best, we’ve dreamed more love and more life: for ourselves and for those we love.

    And now we join here this day to dream together more life and love for every human.

    Today is my youngest child’s birthday. She’s six now. My oldest will turn eighteen in a month. There are four children in between.

    Like the song says: “The years just flow by, like a broken down dam.” First sacraments, last recitals, graduations, Little League, the little heartaches and the unencompassable ones. Inexorable. Beautiful and heartbreaking. You know what I mean.

    “We are such stuff as dreams are made on. And our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

    What dreams have I had for them! What dreams have died. What dreams survive. The only dreams worthy of a child are intimations from a source far worthier than me, a source of perfect self-surrendering love. Such dreams are not private fantasies. They are facets of the one great dream of this world: that every substance and rhythm of creation, every action and interaction, converge and rise in a new form of common life, more perfect than the one we now endure.

    Rise into a city magnificent, beneficent, whose only currency is love. We might call it the city of peace: a New Jerusalem.

    To dream such a city: is that for the night, or for the day? If dreaming means surrender to an inspiration that is not yours or mine, something too large to have arisen from our small capacity: then it is to create a day that escapes all nights.

    We pro-lifers have gathered here today to dream this great dream together. It is, in part, the dream we have for America. It is, in part, what America wants to dream through us.

    One dream has always animated this country: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    Every single human is created equal.

    It has always been a dream. It has never been fully realized in the light of day. We dreamt the dream—yet consigned the slave to nightmare. We dreamt the dream—yet leave women too much in the grip of private tyrannies.

    That essential figure of our Founding, Abigail Adams, had written to husband John Adams, “Remember the ladies!” And we still have so much to do to make that dream real.

    Our opponents ask: but do we honor the liberty of women? And I say, if asked of all of us in American society, that is a just question. And every pro-lifer must answer it well by our lives. There are many who, in all good conscience, really want America to remember the ladies, and think that to do so requires that we remove every single limitation on abortion.

    Some in less good faith have concocted this ROE Act pending under that gold dome, which is far more radical in aim and effect than even Roe v. Wade. The 1973 decision was extreme enough, but it explicitly denied an absolute right to abortion: in the interests of the abortion-minded mother’s health, and in the interests of what the men in black unscientifically and unphilosophically termed “potential human life,” the state may at various points regulate abortion—according to Roe v. Wade.

    The ROE Act is not some prophylactic attempt to enshrine Roe v. Wade before it is, please God, overturned by the Supreme Court. The ROE Act presents and would enshrine a right to unrestricted abortion. That is a new thing. And it is a very dark thing.

    What would this legislation do?

    1) No abortion could be bad enough for this abortion-industry drafted law to merit the intervention of the state.

    It eliminates all criminal penalties for the performance of any abortion—whether coerced, sex-selective, eugenic, incompetently executed, performed by a non-physician, inflicted on a victim of sex trafficking, statutory rape, or other sexual abuse. Literally no abortion could be performed in Massachusetts that might become a matter for state law enforcement.

    Is this the dream we dream for our Commonwealth?

    2) The ROE Act would eliminate parental consent for all minors. Is that the dream we should dream for our children? That if they are victims of predatory men, that no parent, and even no judge, should stand between that child and the will of the predator to “fix his problem”? Is that our dream for children? Are we not sick of abuse?

    3) The ROE Act eliminates any provision for the life of a viable child who survives an abortion attempt. You would think that the very least modern times would reject is the barbarism of exposure. But with abortion, we indeed grapple with the very limits of civilization. Are we to dream of exposure for children?

    4) The ROE Act would eliminate the hospitalization requirement for abortions after the first trimester. Is that the dream we should dream for women? Whose dream is that but that of the abortion industry, which profits from killing?

    5) The ROE Act would expand tax-payer funding of abortion and would do so, perversely, under Healthy Start, a program designed to lower infant mortality. Is that what we dream from good government?

    6) In this proposed law, any reference to women is eliminated, as is any reference to another human being in this whole tortured question of abortion. Is the dream of this Commonwealth to forget the actual flesh and blood mothers and children whose destinies are being weighed in the balance? Justice may be blind, but justice must not be stupid.

    If many fellow citizens are convinced of the hard necessity of abortion in certain cases, that is one thing. It is one thing to say that the liberty interest of a mother overrides the life interest of her unborn child in difficult-enough circumstances. It’s quite another thing, a delusional thing, to pretend that this hard choice isn’t hard at all by pretending as if modern embryology and developmental biology do not exist.

    Our dream is a dream for the transformation of reality, and so it must be rooted in reality. Ignoring how abortion is a tool for rapacious men is not being rooted in reality.

    The principle of the ROE Act is simple: no abortion a bad abortion.

    But how many pro-choicers, even, believe that? What kind of male fantasy world would a person have to live in to overlook the fact that this serves the convenience of the man who, though not wanting to be a father, nevertheless wants to keep using women and girls?

    Abortion makes the inequality of women worse. It allows men to escape their responsibility to both women and children, and it allows our narcissistic society to escape our responsibility to care.

    No abortion a bad abortion? How about this: some seeming solutions are not solutions at all.

    Do we need to secure more equality for women in society? You better believe it. Can equality, can the equality of some, be secured at the expense of the equality of others? The ones selling that are always the unequal ones who sit above us all and who confuse their needs with reality. And I’ll say it to the shame of our sex: most of these narcissists are men.

    We pro-lifers agree that the ladies must be remembered. What we deny, is that we can rightly remember any one human by killing another human.

    We would remember all the victims, not just some—and thereby blow up the whole sorry system of entitlement that enslaves us all. Do you want revolution? THAT is revolution.

    Let us dream with Walt Whitman:

    I DREAM’D in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth;
    I dream’d that was the new City of Friends;
    Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love—it led the rest;
    It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city,
    And in all their looks and words.

    What has Walt described but what we dream for America: to show us something of the New Jerusalem.

    If I forget thee, Jerusalem, let my right hand wither.

    The city of our dreams, that New Jerusalem, cannot come upon those who forget the dead, who forget the victims.

    We must not forget how racial minorities suffer. We must not forget how women suffer. We must not forget how the smallest humans suffer.

    Let me not forget thee, city of my dreams, city of life for all and of death for none.

    Let me not forget thee, city of true love and of friendship we never betray, never fail.

    Let us dream the impossible possibility of America once again.

    What did our great captain say:

    “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    When Lincoln says that every political sentiment he’s had derives from the Declaration of Independence, he explains that he means the principles of equal dignity and liberty.

    We all agree on the words. What do they mean?

    Read more

  • donated 2019-03-26 13:41:04 -0400

  • commented on A Fatherhood without Borders: Paternity and the Expansion of Life 2018-07-06 14:37:05 -0400
    Well, as you know, Doug, our “one” issue is the restoration of the right to life of the innocent in law. I know from personal experience how little regard there is for father’s rights in family law, but, that said, there is real reason for that, given, say, the epidemic of spousal abuse. So, even though there can in fact be grave injustice in the preferential option for the woman, I myself would not want that preference effaced.

    I agree completely that churches need to “clean their own houses.”

    And, yes, we should not be tribalistic in any way: we should recognize the equal dignity of every human. So, keep dreamin’, Doug!

  • We are Know-Somethings: On the American Declaration of the Equal Dignity of Every Human

    We are Know-Somethings: On the American Declaration of the Equal Dignity of Every Human

    Justly felt, our pride as Americans on this Independence Day. A rare clarity thinned the obscurity of world history when that Declaration was made: all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Never had a nation been founded on such a declaration of the equal dignity of each human life. And therein lies the great paradox of America: to be a nation whose particular mark is dedication to a universal truth. 

    That’s what Lincoln reminded us as he made a stop at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall on his way to Washington, D.C., for his first inauguration, in 1861:

    “I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. …I have often inquired of myself what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the motherland; but that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men.”

    The American Declaration that all humans are created equal meant the founding of one nation, yes, but all the dispossessed of the world, all those subjected by tyrants and oligarchs, were now to have something of an American aspiration. And that wind would blow through every nation on earth.

    From the Founding, we failed our own vision. The self-contradiction of slavery was so absurd as to be ridiculous, if it weren’t for the incalculable horrors, the infernal terror, involved in the denial of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to black Americans.

    And we have been tempted since to betray the American Declaration, for increase of power and wealth and comfort tends to corrupt. As we become oligarchs, we compromise on equal dignity:

    “When we were the political slaves of King George, and wanted to be free, we called the maxim that ‘all men are created equal’ a self evident truth; but now when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread of being slaves ourselves, we have become so greedy to be masters that we call the same maxim ‘a self-evident lie’” [from the 1855 letter to George Robertson].

    This betrayal tends to metastasize. As the Second Party System collapsed in the mid-1850s, one of the emerging contenders were the xenophobic, nativist, anti-immigrant Know-Nothings. For these, Lincoln had the perfect words:

    I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic]” [from the 1855 letter to Joshua Speed].

    Pro-lifers are the polar opposite of the Know-Nothings. We are the partisans of all humanity. We believe the American Declaration, without exception and without dilution. We are know-somethings. We know that every single human life has equal dignity. As we would not look on the refugee as an alien, so will we not look on the unborn child as an alien invader either, even if he or she was “unplanned.” We know that declaring “all men are created equal” can have no codicil, such as “except the unborn child.” We will offer radical hospitality to every single human, for as we do to the least of these, we do unto the Lord.

    We will maintain the American Declaration to the end, whole and high. That means the fire of revolution never ceases to burn in us. But as the one Revolution has occurred, it is in patience and with trust in providence that we commit ourselves to working through democratic and republican processes to see that America, at last, realize, without exception and without dilution, the truth of her Declaration. Lincoln reminisces to Speed:

    “In 1841 you and I had together a tedious low-water trip, on a Steam Boat from Louisville to St. Louis. You may remember, as I well do, that from Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio, there were, on board, ten or a dozen slaves, shackled together with irons. That sight was a continued torment to me; and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio, or any other slave-border. It is hardly fair for you to assume, that I have no interest in a thing which has, and continually exercises, the power of making me miserable. You ought rather to appreciate how much the great body of the Northern people do crucify their feelings, in order to maintain their loyalty to the Constitution and the Union.”

    We will crucify our feelings for the torment of the least among us, so that we, with both serenity and urgency, may carry on the public deliberation and charitable works necessary to exorcise the Know-Nothing spirit blind to the equal dignity of each human life. This great day, we give thanks to the good Creator for this great nation, and for the Declaration that changes everything.