Guest opinion by Charlie Danaher
History is replete with examples of peaceful movements being met with violence. Sometimes the violence is perpetrated by the state, elsewhile private citizens attack their fellow man.
Between 1938 & 1943, Irena Sendler, a member of the Department of Social Welfare and Public Health of the City of Warsaw, helped smuggle 2,500 Jewish children to safety, out of the Warsaw Ghetto. In October 1943 Irena was arrested by the Gestapo, and sentenced to death. Irena was beaten in an attempt to get her to reveal information. She never wavered. Irena escaped execution thanks to a bribe raised by Zegota, the underground Polish resistance organization. Irena died May 12, 2008 in Warsaw, at the aged of 98.
On May 4, 1961, the first Freedom Riders left Washington, D.C. on a Greyhound bus. The mixed-race group set about to bring attention to the injustices of segregation, specifically the enforcement of segregated seating. But as the bus made Anniston, Alabama on Mother’s Day, May 14, KKK members were lying in wait. After having its tires slashed, the crippled bus was pulled off to the side of the highway outside of town, where it was then fire-bombed. The riders were beaten as they exited the bus. The Freedom Riders went on to bring credibility to the American Civil Rights Movement.
Trivial by comparison, for the last 11 years, to commemorate Respect Life Month, our church, Sacred Heart of Mary, has constructed a Field of Crosses. We build a mock cemetery consisting of 3,300 crosses, representing the number of abortions performed in the U.S, every day.
We’ve had three basic goals:
1. To shed light on the magnitude of the tragic loss of innocent live through abortion in the USA.
2. In this great time of strife, we promote a message of hope and healing to those who’ve been negatively impacted by abortion, because we believe that God’s mercy and healing have no limits.
3. We want to offer a safe and (relatively) comfortable opportunity for people to participate in pro-life activities—an activity free from hostile confrontation.
From the feedback thus far, it appears that we’ve had distinct success.
This year we put up the crosses on Sunday, September 26. Less than 72 hours after we completed our construction, people came onto Church property and violently attacked our memorial, as well as the church. Church windows were broken, graffiti was sprayed on church walls, and the front door, and even our statue of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was tagged. One can only conclude that the vandals knew not whose likeness they were defacing.
As with many other peaceful movements before us, we must ask, should it really come as a surprise that some have reacted violently to our message? No; not really.
I suspect that those who carried out this desecration may also be suffering from abortion. We feel for them, for we know that they—and the whole world—have been lied to. Nearly everyone now alive has been bombarded with a false set of deceptive, insidious slogans, including “it’s just a clump of cells,” “the product of conception,” “I want my reproductive freedom,” “it’s my body, my choice.”
We seek justice for the damage caused to our church. But, just as importantly, we pray for the perpetrators, that they will find comfort and reconciliation.
We will rebuild our Field of Crosses, for we really have no choice. We know that there are people hurting from the scourge of abortion. We don’t think that offering a path to healing is an optional activity. We’re called to bring relief to all those who suffer. This includes comforting the sick, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked. And, to the degree that we can, we’ll continue to do so.
The suffering that our church has experienced is insignificant compared to those who’ve gone before us. History will judge whether our cause is worthy of praise. Such is not for us to decide. Our responsibility is to try to shine a light for all to see, and to offer a new reality—a peaceful, loving reality.
Please join us as we seek to protect the innocent, and comfort those who still live with the scars of abortion.
Charlie Danaher is a 30-year Boulder resident, has a wife and five children, is a mechanical engineer, a freelance writer, and political activist.
—This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.