It had been a tough week.
Several discussions with fellow students about abortion, and it was clear that my arguments were unpersuasive. The economic news is not improving and I watched helplessly while my retirement savings and my kids’ college fund dwindled in value daily. Hard to read the political news because at every turn there seems to be more and more vilification and trivialization of the values I share with the candidates I support.
Then came Friday afternoon… after an inconclusive skirmish in the Culture Wars with a fellow student on abortion, after which I was forced to withdraw and return to my “winter quarters,” I headed for home. (Okay… my carpool was leaving and 40 miles is a long walk). The morning that had begun with such beautiful red skies had gotten colder and greyer. I was in what can only be described as a grey mood. Then I walked in the door and to my own ray of sunshine.
There on the floor, my dear wife was finishing up my daughter’s marshmallow costume for Halloween, and watching the classic 1968 film “Yours, Mine, and Ours,” the original one with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. One warm grilled cheese sandwich, a few smiles from my bride of 21 years, and a few dozen deadpan Henry Fonda quips later I was feeling better. The grey world outside the door of my home seemed a little farther away.
Then came the speech I had suffered all week long to hear, I just didn’t know it. Near the end of the film, one of the daughters is distraught because her boyfriend is pressuring her to have sex. “He says if I love him…” she tells her father. As Frank (Henry Fonda) is carefully walking Helen (Lucille Ball), his pregnant wife, toward the car, he delivers the speech that saved my Friday:
“I’ve got a message for Larry. You tell him that this is what it’s all about. This is the real happening. If you wanna know what love really is, take a look around you. Take a good look at your mother.”
Helen says “Not now!”
“Yes, now,” our hero continues. “It’s giving life that counts. Until you’re ready for it, all the rest is just a big fraud. All the crazy haircuts in the world won’t keep it turning. Life isn’t a love-in, it’s the dishes, and the orthodontist, and the shoe repairman, and ground round instead of roast beef.
“And I’ll tell you something else. It isn’t going to bed with a man that proves you’re in love with him, it’s waking up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful, everyday world with him that counts.”
Walking down the front steps, he says, “I suppose having nineteen kids is carrying it a bit too far, but if we had it to do over, who would we skip… you?”
You see, it is life that matters. Life that grows, that “finds a way” to quote another movie. Life is precious and beautiful, each and every one. Every human being.
In less than two weeks, Americans will go to the polls to elect senators, congressmen, judges, council members, administrators, and a president.
There are stark choices in this election. Vote, by all means, but don’t vote based on your pocketbook, a pretty face, or a good speech. Choose life, it’s what matters most. As the good Bishop of Scanton, PA said about voting as if abortion was just one of many issues, “This is madness, people.”
Henry Fonda saved my Friday. Let the message that life is precious and takes first priority save some lives with your vote.