“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?
Is equality not rooted in the bare biological fact of shared humanity? Any other standard would necessarily be the exercise of the will of the more powerful against the less powerful.
That means the baby, yes. But it also means women. Abortion is an essential component of a game rigged against women. To dream our dream, our society has to wake up from that nightmare.
Indeed, if we are to make distinctions, they must always be in favor of the more powerless. Justice requires making an effort to extend equality to those who are treated unequally.
The dignity of women and children is battered, literally battered, a million times every day. This cries to heaven. Every single one of us must make this our cause—in the name of equality.
But can we coherently struggle for the dignity of women and children, while pretending that the littlest ones among us have no dignity?
Lincoln holds up equality and liberty together, knowing you can’t have one without the other.
What is liberty?
Does pregnancy impinge on the liberty of women in a way that it doesn’t impinge on the liberty of men? Only a fool would deny it. No coherent pro-life stance can be androgynous. It is the female that bears the burden of the world’s future.
And as a society we must, we must, do better in recognizing that special burden.
But what is liberty for? It is to love, to take care, to be responsible for the equality of every other.
There are crying, gaping wounds in our society borne in particular by women and children in our society. We had best be about taking those problems seriously. But it is no solution to kill, to cut away the foundation of our shared humanity.
We pro-lifers do not seek to win a war.
We only seek to love more.
We resist those who blindly make war on the weak
Do any of us love enough? Of course not. Love’s claims are infinite.
That’s why we have a dream.
This dream preceded each of us. This dream cushioned for each of us some of the blows of this hard world. This dream. This dream.
A city of the reconciled. A city of high chivalry in which women and children come first. Where no one goes uncared for. Where every refugee orphaned on the desert roads of this world finds asylum in our hearts. Where no human being, no matter how small, is left to die.
A city where women are never battered again, sexually assaulted again, never again handmaidens consumed within a rapacious economy of desire.
A city where children are never despoiled by our egos, where their innocence is kept as a candle against a night full of terrors. A city without the dungeons of the trade in flesh.
We dream a commonwealth of peace and ever-increasing friendship and care.
We dream of a city where there will be no more killing, no more death. No more killing, no more death. No more killing. No more killing.
Every tear wiped away. Where this arduous race we run ends within the ardor of friends who will embrace and who will never let go.
We have a dream. We have a dream. We dream of love in action, and without end. The years take everything, but they must not take away our dream. More life, more love. World without end.