Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
It’s a basic aspect of human relationships: make eye contact. When we fail to do so at the appropriate times, we fail to show interest in the other person. We may seem too distracted to care, or perhaps ashamed of something. Failure to make eye contact is failure to connect.
That’s one of the challenges of loving the most vulnerable population in our midst, the children in the womb. We don’t have eye contact with them. When you love a person, you want to look into his or her eyes, rather than loving from afar. You want to see the person’s face. Even the love of God is described this way. The Book of Revelation announces the ultimate destiny of the human family, the culmination of their salvation, in this way: “They shall see Him face to face” (Rev. 22:4)
Veteran animal-rights activist Jim Mason relates this boyhood experience, which illustrates the power of the face: I was out there sitting on a stump enjoying the woods, and I heard the yelping sounds and my dog — my dog then was Butch — came racing across the clearing chasing a fox. Again, whether it was conditioning or whatever, I just pulled up the gun and shot the fox, wounded it, didn’t kill it…
So my dog and I located the den and dug it out…As we dug more and more, I could see the poor fox in there suffering and bleeding to death. And the look on its face — it was just another one of those moments when … I just felt horrible. I just felt absolutely ashamed to have done this. It was like I had committed a horrible mistake.
Freeman Wicklund started the Student Organization for Animal Rights at the University of Minnesota after staring into the eyes of a hog about to be slaughtered. Attorney and prominent feminist Lori Peterson states, “It’s not fair for the scientists to demean the feelings of these creatures. Once you’ve looked into their eyes… you can’t turn away. Ever.” Kim Bartlett, editor of Animal People, describes a shift in her view of suffering: . . . “I received a piece of mail….it was about fur and contained…pictures of a fox and rabbit caught in leghold traps. The look in their eyes pierced my soul…I sat down and cried” (1990, p. 95).
The eyes teach us about the one who suffers, whether it be an animal or human victim. For a moment, we pierce the veil that separates our experience from theirs, and temporarily see and feel the world as they do.
Many wonder why we haven’t made more progress in ending abortion. A key reason is that we make the fight too abstract. Rather than just making arguments, let’s show the faces of the people we’re arguing for. See more at www.unborn.info.
Don’t be afraid to look into the face of the unborn, both alive and aborted. You’ll find the strength to love them more.