by Sarah Neely
Tuesday evening, my husband asked, “Did you see what happened in Texas?” I was buried deep in writing an article all day and had not looked at any current news.
“No, what happened?”
“Mass shooter at an elementary school in Texas,” he said.
“How many people died?” I asked in alarm.
“I think maybe nineteen.” He answered.
“How many were children…” I asked quietly.
“Almost all of them.”
Almost all of them. The tragedy of an incident like this is incalculable. Part of me can’t even fathom what kind of person could walk into a room full of kids, look at their innocent faces, and just start shooting. Another part of me is disgusted by the cowardice exhibited when a physically stronger person goes after innocent, defenseless humans with zero ability to fight back. Yet another part of me is just devastated for the parents and siblings.
However, these initial responses to such horrific news are not unfamiliar to me. I feel them often, sometimes even daily, as I have spent the last ten years dealing with the devastation and violence of abortion and working to see it end. For me, every day is a school shooting — only the body count is in the thousands and there’s no minute-by-minute coverage.
Maybe that statement makes you roll your eyes, or immediately think, “How dare you compare the two?” For the record, I’m not comparing them. Whether a child is aborted or shot, both deaths are heinous. The spirit of violence that drove this young man into Robb Elementary School is the same spirit of violence that drives the hands of those who promote, protect, and profit from abortions.
But one of those evils certainly preceded the other in a big way and, that, I will compare. When it comes to abortion and the escalating violence against the innocent in our nation, there is a deep cause and effect relationship that few want to talk about or even acknowledge. We want to stop the bleeding without ever looking at the wound.
I was a high school student when Columbine happened — the first mass school shooting of that magnitude I can remember in our nation. In the wake of that violence, I recall casually chatting with peers about whether or not we’d come to school the next day, because yet another rumor had gone around about a possible shooting at our own school. I remember the fire department basically taking up residence in our cafeteria because we had a serial arsonist followed by a string of bomb threats. A large part of my high school experience was spending long hours sitting around the football field while officers combed the hallways for bombs. After Columbine, every threat was taken seriously and the threats were numerous.
Since then, more mass shootings at schools have followed, often carried out by fellow students. And each time our nation cries out, “How could this happen? How could this happen?”
How could it not happen? What on earth did we expect from whole generations that grew up being told a child in the womb is subhuman? That we, ourselves, had no value until someone said so?
For three weeks straight, people across our nation have been violently demanding the right to kill a defenseless child in the womb. They have said overturning Roe will usher in the worst version of America. Unfortunately, they can’t see we already created the worst version. America has spent nearly fifty years ensuring a child in the womb is seen as subhuman, inconvenient and absolutely dispensable.
Now, the same mob calling for more abortion is calling for more gun laws, because children they deemed worthy have been killed. That outrage not only rings hollow, it fails to see the real remedy.
How can we expect to lessen violence against the innocent if we allow, legalize and promote daily violence done against the most innocent among us?
Following the news from Texas, I saw many people on social media express their overwhelming sorrow for the lives lost in this shooting. I saw people express an inability to understand such evil, or to comprehend the full loss of life. Compassion, sadness, concern — these are all appropriate reactions in the face of children being murdered. Yet we don’t have this reaction to children being aborted every day. Because, to most people, an aborted child isn’t a murdered child.
Because that child isn’t seen. The aborted child is too small, too young, too dependent, too much of a burden. What she never is, to so many, is too human. And as long as we can’t see her, as long as we won’t protect her, as long as we allow her dignity to be stripped away day after day after day, we won’t see senseless violence against the innocent lessened in our nation. It will only increase. Because that sort of evil can never be satiated. It only grows.
The dark cloud over America right now isn’t the possibility of overturning Roe — it’s the threat of never overturning it. Of never recognizing the havoc we’ve wreaked in these five long decades.
Perhaps if Roe is finally gone, and life-affirming states can finally enact life-affirming laws, America can get a glimpse of what it looks like to cherish every life, even the tiny ones. Perhaps we will finally see the good that comes from that path. We’ve certainly seen plenty of the bad that comes from the other.
You can look at the history of school shootings, the uptick in suicide, depression and anxiety in kids and teenagers. You can look at the atrocity that happened this week in Texas. Young people are not okay, and we haven’t been for a very long time.
Every generation after Roe has carried death so close to us. Our siblings were aborted; our peers were aborted; and then we grew up to be the ones choosing to abort.
What would happen if we finally had a generation that could lay that heavy burden aside and just carry the understanding that every life has value, and every life gets protected? What a world that might be. What lives might we save if we uproot the old and finally plant something new.