by John Ellis
One of the few things I remember from my high school Civics class was taught to me on the morning of November 4, 1992. Walking into class as a seventeen year old boy, I was blind-sided by my teacher’s dismay and anger at the previous day’s Presidential election that was now turned on me and my friend. Our crime? We had supported Ross Perot for President. Our teacher accused us, two kids too young to vote, of secretly supporting President-elect Clinton and, by extension, hating America. In front of the class, we were subjected to a verbal dressing down that aligned us with the worst elements of society that a jingoistic Christian school teacher could imagine.
Being yelled at in front of my classmates didn’t bother me, I was used to that; it was the unfairness with which he attributed motives to my shallow and naive support of Perot that irked me. At that point in my life, I was a Republican by default. Everyone I knew identified as a Republican; every political opinion that I heard, apart from The ABC Nightly News with Peter Jennings and the Presidential debates, were solidly conservative and Republican. During the fall of 1992, as a seventeen year old boy, I was attempting, honestly attempting, to discover for myself what I believed and why. I didn’t have the needed discernment or knowledge base to legitimately support Ross Perot, or any other candidate, for that matter; but I was doing what I was supposed to be doing – engaging, on the best level I could, the political/democratic process. The thought never entered my mind that my support of Ross Perot would aid Clinton, which was not my goal.
That Wednesday morning, my disappointed and scared teacher was simply lashing out, but in doing so, he wrongfully attributed motives to me, and, as a consequence, I listened to very little he had to say for the remainder of the school year. I’m afraid that this is being similarly played out on social media with the pitting of Cecil the lion V. Planned Parenthood.
I don’t know the ins-and-outs of the killing of Cecil the lion; if the dentist broke laws, he should be prosecuted. Many of my Facebook friends appear to know the ins-and-outs, though. Calls for action range from boycotting the practice of the dentist to proposed jail time to having the death penalty enacted in a variety of imaginative ways. Beyond my distraught friends, a litany of celebrities, upset at the death of Cecil the lion, has been paraded across the “trending” box on my Facebook wall. But those posts aren’t what caught my attention.
Almost immediately after the first posts expressing outrage over the killing of Cecil the lion appeared, memes and posts angrily denouncing anyone who cares more about a dead lion than dead babies began popping up on Facebook and Twitter. And, I get it; I empathize with the sentiment, I’m just not sure if the anger is appropriately directed.
At this moment, late-summer of 2015, we who are opposed to the murder of babies guised as a medical procedure have the opportunity to deliver deathblows to the enemy. At times, the seeming apathy on the part of those who claim the name of Christ can be frustrating. The addition of the outrage over Cecil the lion from those who appear unconcerned about the Planned Parenthood videos can be maddening. But, we need to be careful about assuming too much.
Facebook’s algorithms for what shows up on my wall are beyond my ability to decipher without a cheat sheet. I do know that I don’t see everything that my friend’s post; why, I do not know. I also know that not everything I post is seen by everyone, and that some friends see some things I post and not other things that I post. As hard as this may be for some to imagine considering my online activity these last few weeks, there are probably Facebook friends of mine who don’t know my views about abortion. If I were to post a status update expressing outrage at the killing of Cecil the lion, there may be some friends who would turn around and passive-aggressively post a meme, aimed in my direction, about those who care more about dead lions than dead babies.
Although, and let’s be honest, that is not likely what’s happening. I would be shocked if Facebook is showing the anger at the killing of Cecil the lion while holding back the same outraged individual’s contempt for Planned Parenthood. I mean, it’s possible, but not probable.
What’s more likely is that many people have been duped by Planned Parenthood’s P.R. spin; people who, in similar fashion to me and my friend in 1992, are ill-equipped to handle all the manufactured noise surrounding what is being touted as a complicated issue. Just because someone is outraged over the killing of a lion doesn’t, of necessity, demand that they understand what’s at stake over the current Planned Parenthood battle. And, it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be outraged at the murder of babies if properly educated. And this is the point where passive-aggressive memes are at their most unhelpful, albeit personally gratifying.
Different people care passionately about a lot of different things; and many of the things leave me scratching my head – I’m sure the same could be said by many about some of the things I care about. There is a myopic tendency among humans that essentially states, “You aren’t allowed to care about your thing until you care about my thing.” Now, and I want to be clear, I firmly believe that the murder of babies should be the concern of every human being. But, unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way, and life should change. It doesn’t necessarily need to change, however, at the expense of other “things.” For example, helping a friend see that Planned Parenthood is in the dirty business of murdering babies doesn’t require that the friend has to give up caring about the illegal killing of lions. Pitting Cecil the lion against Planned Parenthood may have the unintended consequence of implying that a person can’t care about both. They can. Attacking their “thing” isn’t going to help them want to get on board with our “thing.”
Buried in my Civic teacher’s rant were lessons about how the political process works and that citizens don’t operate in a vacuum. But, instead of seizing the moment to further our education, that teacher, instead, chose to release the pressure-valve of his fear. By no means do I believe that people should be left alone in their contempt for killing a lion and not be confronted with the genocide being perpetuated by Planned Parenthood. But there are better ways to go about that than potentially alienating them from the conversation. We need to continue to be pro-active in sharing the undercover videos, talking/writing about the undercover videos, and confronting our friends and family members with the murder of babies by Planned Parenthood.
All of that being said, and as I’ve already stated, I definitely understand the frustration expressed by those who are having a hard time wrapping their brains around the fact that apparently some people are outraged over the killing of a lion but not the mass murdering of babies. There is definitely a time and a place for witticism, but let’s be careful that in our dismay we don’t substitute dialogue with self-gratifying barbs; the lives of babies are at stake.
 Which is why 17 year olds aren’t allowed to vote.
 Not to mention that my support for Ross Perot had absolutely no bearing on the ’92 Presidential election.
 That doesn’t excuse him.
 Although, to the best of my knowledge, none of those friends live anywhere near Minnesota. It’s reminiscent of my friends who proudly declared that they would no longer patronize Chick-fil-A, never mind that there wasn’t a Chick-fil-A within a day’s drive of them.
 The media, with their self-righteous misdirection, are, of course, hijacking news cycles in brazen attempts to swamp and sink the Planned Parenthood undercover videos. The media aren’t paying attention to me or you; our friends and family members are. Let’s fight the media by appropriately, bravely, and unrelentingly keeping the conversation about the murder of babies going.
 I realize that for some my use of the word “enemy” is troubling. If that’s you, I’d like to encourage you to consider the storyline of the Bible which pits the seed of the serpent against the seed of the woman. The Bible, whether you like it or not, contains the story of “us v. them.” Read the Psalms, for example. I understand the need for circumspection, because only God, who sees the heart, knows who is “us” and who is “them.” But, people who murder babies, in my strong opinion, have earned the tag of “them,” and, hence, “enemy.”