Saturday, January 12, 2013

Obama & Mother Teresa: A Shocking Similarity

As a Catholic-Christian, I more often find myself turning to spiritual leaders for advice and consolation than to politicians. Still, in the aftermath of the recent horrific tragedy of Newtown, Connecticut I found myself deeply moved by the words of President Barack Obama. The truth of his statements rang deep in my heart, and even on levels far different than the President himself had intended. Let me explain.

When reflecting on the unthinkable horror of the Newtown shooting and the emotional response of the nation, I had to ask myself what made this particular tragedy so unbearable to so many. The answer, it seems, lies primarily in the innocence of those who lost their lives, and in particular the children. Sadly, people get killed every day by violent means somewhere in the world (and often in places very close to home), but the thought of children and teachers having their lives brutally taken in what is thought to be a safe haven, a place of refuge, is especially hard for the human heart to comprehend. How can we respond in faith in the face of such unthinkable evil to a situation in which we feel so powerless?

This is where the President's words began to speak to me: "This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged."

This profound admission by our President stopped me in my tracks. Because as I heard his words, these haunting words of Mother Teresa came to mind: "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion."

Later, I read both speeches again: first, President Obama’s remarks at the December 16, 2012 prayer vigil for the Newtown victims, then Mother Teresa’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C, on February 5, 1994. I considered how alarming and ill-received Mother Teresa’s words might have been to the audience to which she spoke them, and found myself perhaps similarly shocked at how they seemed to respond to certain points of the President’s address.   

President Obama: "We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction.”
Mother Teresa: "But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"
President Obama: "Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"
Mother Teresa: "There is so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice, are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do."

President Obama: "As a community, you’ve inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other. You’ve cared for one another. And you’ve loved one another. This is how Newtown will be remembered, and with time and God’s grace, that love will see you through."

Mother Teresa: "If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak — the unborn child — must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for."

While the issue of abortion can be polarizing, the President and Mother Teresa agreed that we need to do better in caring for and protecting our nation’s innocent children, and I believe we can all do the same. As we mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, let us consider their words and do what we can together to care for the weakest among us.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and be assured of my prayers.

Peace and all good,

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