A few nights ago I had the pleasure of viewing a beautiful and inspiring movie called “The Help”. I imagine that many people like me gathered in their living rooms with their families to immerse themselves in a time period that we as North Americans most shamefully remember. It was a time when Jim Crowe saw a group of individuals as non-persons. A time when white society saw black people as disease-ridden thieves who can be sold or bought like property, and treated like livestock. A time when the rights of some people were elevated above the rights of others. Parents taught their children that some people were unwanted, uninvited and undesirable. These people were not seen as people. They were seen as disposable.
“The Help” taught me that discrimination affects everyone. Not just the group being ostracized and not just those who spread hateful lies. When discrimination is tolerated, generation after generation are forced to watch passively as children. Why? Because their parents would rather hide from the injustice than face it. We would rather shake our heads in shame, remembering the social issues that permeated the “dark, demented days of the past”, than to admit that we haven’t learned from those past mistakes.
Recently, I began volunteering with revolutionaries who daily risk arrest and assault in order to expose the war that takes place in the wombs of the world. We live in a country where people of a certain age are considered non-persons in the eyes of the law. Where pregnancy is seen as a disease and children are seen as cancers. A place where some mothers treat their babies as their property which can be torn apart, discarded and incinerated. We live in a country that puts the right for some to “choose” above the right for others to live. “Unwanted” children are seen as undesirable, uninvited and therefore, disposable.
I’m reminded of the man I met while on the New Abortion Caravan. He told me of the horrors that his sister had seen while working at a local hospital. She was putting sheets in the washing machine, one of which unfurled to reveal a dead foetus. They were only investigating at the time, so I don’t know if the foetus was miscarried or aborted, but frankly, I don’t think it matters. What disgusts me about this story is that a human child (presumably already dead) was unceremoniously thrown in with the dirty laundry.
Does that disgust you? Good. This is exactly what the character Eugenia Skeeter did in the movie. She exposed the ugly truth about the injustice going on in her midst, and was willing to face the heat. She didn’t shy away from the pain of having to see and hear horrible things, because she had a greater goal in mind. Arthur Schopenhauer says that we must face ridicule and even violent opposition before truth can be accepted by society as self-evident. And if looking back, we are proud of those individuals who rebelled against the status quo, in favour of justice and righteousness, we too must be willing to make those little sacrifices in our personal fight for life. The choices we make today will forever echo throughout history, and may even be remembered in a book.