A couple of weeks ago, the Irish people held a referendum to legalize abortion and unless you have been living under a rock, you know the abortion side won in a landslide gaining over 66 percent of the vote. Regardless of your feelings and opinions on abortion (I am an Irishman and I am proud to have voted to say all life matters and should be defended), there are several lessons we can learn from this referendum and specifically from the abortion side.
Winning the Argument
Today's political climate around the world is all about winning elections and gaining power — based on no actual substance other than the "fact" we are better than the other party. America will experience this over the coming months where the discussion seems to be about whether there will be a blue wave or if the GOP will hold onto the House and Senate. But how many issues will actually be discussed regarding the future of the nation? Will the Constitution be discussed? Will liberty and what makes America different even be considered? Or will it be based merely on not letting the other side have power?
The sad truth about the Irish abortion referendum is that the result was never really in doubt and was always seen as more of a formality. The only questions were how many people would actually vote and the margin of victory. Why? Because whether they knew it or not, the abortion side followed the advice Margaret Thatcher gave several decades ago:
First you win the argument, then you win the vote.
The proof of this is the exit poll conducted on the day when 75 percent of people said they always knew how they were going to vote.
Over the years, the people of Ireland (as in many parts of the world) have accepted abortion as part of our everyday lives. We think of abortion as a choice and we know life is filled with choices. Should I go out with my friends next Saturday night? Should I order dessert? Should I leave my job or not? Should I keep my baby or not?
The ironic part of those who are pro-choice is that so few realize their own double standard, as 99 percent of them love telling people how much money they are allowed to keep, what car they can drive, how fast they can drive it — dictating what they can buy and when they can buy it, deciding their employment terms, etc.
No Science, no Emotion
The second successful step to acceptance of abortion was the complete removal of both science and emotion from the subject. If you read any literature about abortion, you will rarely (if ever) see the word baby. A baby is gorgeous, sweet, needs a name, requires lots of love and attention and is totally defenseless. The pro-choice side successfully changed it to a fetus, which is a group of cells that could turn into anything. Is a group of cells gorgeous or sweet, do you name it, and does it require any love?
The third step has been the successful creation of the narrative around abortion. It is a choice, it is the caring and compassionate choice for women — after all, it is her body and she can do whatever she wants with her body. If you dare disagree with this narrative, you are deemed anti-choice, a hater and oppressor of women.
The last step to winning this argument has been chosen ignorance. Have you ever watched an abortion? Did you watch until the end or did you switch it off? Have you ever tried showing or explaining what happens during an abortion to people? If you have, how far did you get?
- Did you get to explain how they remove the limbs from the baby?
- Did you get to explain how they break the baby's neck?
- Did you get to explain what they do with the baby parts in America?
- Did you get to explain we are now using abortion as a way to "solve" Down Syndrome?
Or did you get the common reaction, "STOP, enough, I do not want to hear or see anymore"? Discussing abortion is hard because it requires people to self-reflect, witness pure evil and do their own homework. Then, it requires them to act. However, if you are ignorant, you don't have to self-reflect, witness evil or act, and you can go on living your life.
The second thing everyone can learn from the Irish referendum is how critical your credibility is in society. Ireland has historically been a Catholic country but over the last few decades that has been changing. It is easy to blame the media and the spread of secularism for this change. The truth is the Catholic Church is also directly responsible for losing its credibility to many people because of their own actions or inactions.
When priests do inhumane and barbaric things to young boys, when the Church covers that evil up, and never really comes out in the strongest possible terms to condemn those actions and fire each of those priests, how is it possible to have any credibility in society. Why would anyone ever listen to you?
Now, if you add in the media, which flat-out hate religion, and declining numbers of those who are actually Catholic, you find a perfect storm of why the Church has so little impact in Ireland today.
Impact of Churches
One of the biggest differences, historically, between the Church in America and the rest of the world has been the role of America's pulpits. When the Church is at its best, its pulpits are alive, filled with passion and inspiring a generation to be better. The American Revolution may have officially started in 1776, but the truth is it started 20, 30 or even 40 years prior with preachers on their pulpits spreading the laws of nature that were self-evident for all to see.
The sad truth is the pulpits in Ireland are either silent or are spreading modern-day talking points. I grew up a Catholic and I do not remember a time when they were alive. I grew up in a Church where the sermon was not judged by its content or topic, but rather by the length. I have seen first-hand people go crazy when a priest talks for more than 10 minutes during a sermon. I have seen first-hand people switch off during sermons and treat it as an opportunity to read the newsletter.
(Full disclosure, I have done this many times myself as I have sat through sermons explaining was Jesus was a socialist, how Israel is the problem and how global warming is going to kill us all. I even started a discussion a few years ago as I walked out of church on Christmas Day three words into a sermon. Those three words were "Jesus the Palestinian.")
Churches in Ireland have major problems with attendance. In the same exit poll I mentioned before, only 30 percent said they attended church every week, 14 percent once a month and 27 percent a couple of times a year. Of those questioned, 74 percent were Catholics.
Since the vote on abortion, there has been much analysis in Ireland about what this means, and a popular conclusion is that Ireland has filed for divorce from the Catholic Church. For many living in society today, they see life as a religious issue. It is not. Religion does not own life. It is not even a Left vs. Right issue. Life is a human issue.
In a world of partisan politics, life should be the one issue we can all come together on — that life has meaning and is valuable. Does it really matter if God, religion, Allah, logic or common sense got you to that point of view? Would it matter if someone said a rock told them that? No, because life is a self-evident truth — at least it used to be
Our actions or inactions right now will determine the world we live in and the one we pass onto the next generation. I know many want to think this world is doomed and that freedom is dead. While true for nations like Ireland and Europe — we know nothing but the tyranny of man's law — that is not the case for America. The track record of America is making the impossible possible. America has the map that leads to success, we just need to follow it again. So what is that map?
It is through churches, families, communities and schools sharing the message that America's founders shared over 250 years ago based around the laws of nature and nature's God — and those principles are the same for everyone. While elections hold an important place in society, it is critical to focus our time on winning the argument explaining why America is different from the rest of the world — why it is exceptional, why it has prospered like no other nation in the history of the world and why simply leaving people alone and not taking their stuff is such a wonderful and simple idea.
We also must do everything we can to be people of good character and do nothing that can damage our credibility. This is true for everyone in society and not just those in power. We must understand that America's founders were ahead of their time and remember the principles they placed special emphasis on as they pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor as they signed the Declaration of Independence.
If we follow that roadmap, combined with the advancements of society including technology, we really can live in a society that enjoys more freedom than even America's founders could have envisioned.