Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lake of Fire

I am warily looking forward to seeing Tony Kaye's new film Lake of Fire. It's a documentary about the abortion debate. It's 2 1/2 hours long...my god.

But I'm looking forward to it because, from what I've read, it takes a look at the endless controversy surrounding abortion without bias and with an eye towards unearthing the extremism on both sides. That is, the film tries to show how deeply entrenched both sides are with feet firmly planted in the absolute rightness of their belief systems.

That sounds juicy to me. I think a lot about the gray. The gray that lives between the vociferous and passionate pro-choice advocates and the driving, vocal anti-choice activists. We're all hell bent on making sure everyone knows how completely RIGHT we all are. We're stuck in the black or white. But the rest of the country lives in the gray.

I've lived in the gray. I lived in the gray when I became pregnant with my second child - my daughter, while working at Aradia Women's Health Center. How could I feel such absolute joy and love for a collection of cells just 5 weeks old while advocating so strongly for the woman in the exam room next door to my office undergoing an abortion at 12 weeks pregnant?

The gray followed me for awhile. We did exercises at Aradia - the staff would engage in collective exercises, writing about our feelings about abortion. One day, a couple of days before our monthly staff meeting, we were asked to write about "something about abortion that surprised us". I wrote about the gray. I wrote about how surprised I was at my ambivalence about working at AWHC, about abortion, when pregnant with my daughter. I wrote about the sadness I felt that I could feel such love & happiness for a 5 week old embryo while women around me were saying good-bye to the embryos growing inside them.

I wrote about the fear. I had fear that maybe I wasn't "pro-choice." That maybe deep down I just couldn't advocate for something that wasn't black & white anymore. How could I be a passionate advocate for gray?

But somewhere between the writing of the piece and my growing belly, I relaxed. I realized that the gray had always been there. That it's there for many, many women. I realized that the sadness I felt wasn't to be crammed down, pushed away forever. The sadness was to be experienced and felt. The sadness was okay. The love I felt for my daughter growing inside gave me tremendous joy because I had made a choice - the right choice for me.

The sadness was one of those beautiful contradictions that life is made up of. Life is all about the anger, the joy, the beautiful, the ugly, the grief, the happiness, the fear, the calm. I don't live in the gray. But I can understand the gray and where it comes from now. I do feel absolute in the rightness of my belief that all women MUST have the freedom to control their reproductive destiny. My experiences, however, have taught me compassion for and understanding of those who live in the gray. My fears conquered make me stronger. My sadness overcome gives me courage. That's black and white for me.

2 comments:

Jocie said...

Beautifully put, my dear.

Anonymous said...

I think the "gray" is where we process all the external influences and messages and internalize them into values and convictions and defining love. I think the gray on this issue is where I learned to see the inner workings of a life forming and to hold it as precious - the gray is where I formed love and sensitivity of a yet unseen life waiting to arise and be born. The gray is where I formed a deep rooted grief for those who were insensitive and unaware of the miraculous knitting of a new life.

Feminist Peace Network