Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, Or do without
By Mary Bisciaio
My parents lived through the Great Depression and recycled and repurposed long before the terms became fashionable. Everything had a second life to be useful and to save money. Shoes were resoled for a lot less money than buying new. A backyard garden, even in the city, saved money at the grocery. Replacing something, tossing it in the trash, was the last resort when it was either falling apart to the point of no return, parts were impossible to buy, or it couldn’t be washed, repaired, or given to someone in need. My father replaced endless tubes for our black and white television, belts on their aging clothes dryer, and added layer upon layer of paint and varnish to spruce things up. Reuse, reduce, recycle, and repair.
When the country immersed in plastics, new possibilities grew. Plastics could be washed and used again and again in unique ways. My children spent endless hours playing with the tops off my father’s shaving cream cans that my mother had saved in a big wicker laundry basket. They had no idea the lids they stacked weren’t the fancy store brand blocks for kids. They happily stacked towers and built castles. Imagination was a powerful tool in raising children.
But that changed with my generation. We didn’t live through the horrors of the depression and World War II. We never learned the lessons of rationing and doing without. While I didn’t grow up rich, I had everything I needed. When I became an adult, need became less of a force as want became its replacement.
With others we became the disposable generations. Why fix when you can replace for something new and shiny, something more stylish, and something the neighbors would envy? With a little affluence and the opportunities afforded with college and manufacturing jobs, we had the means to replace the car, the refrigerator, and the clothes dryer, to buy packaged prepared foods, and the latest New York fashions. And with the rise of a new advertising industry, we were subtly convinced we had to have the latest in electronic toys, this Christmas’ new toy of the year for our children, and that special replacement to things that were not worn out. We replaced dishes, pots and pans, lawn mowers, and cell phones for the new and improved models while patting ourselves on the back for recycling, a word that has taken on a new meaning. One that clearly includes waste somewhere in the definition.
Sadly, a sense of permanence gave way to a disposable attitude that I believe permeated our thinking on some of the most basic and critical areas of our existence. Disposable is our attitude toward the aging. When once Grandpa and Grandma were the backbone of the family, at some point the general population pushed them aside. And while there are many strong families that cherish the elderly, there are plenty that do not. This vulnerable population is left unprotected and often alone in nursing homes at the end of their lives without the comfort or reverence they deserve.
How did we get to a place where we don’t cherish life? Where we don’t place a high value on experience? Where we see people as useless, expendable, and worse, an inconvenience? Throwing them away like an old pair of gently used shoes.
A healthy respect for life has disappeared, replaced with a willful destruction of the unborn at the other end of the life cycle. The rhetoric is heated with catch phrases we’ve all heard. “A woman’s right to choose.” “Her body, her choice.” And while anger on both sides drives the narrative, there is never any consensus on the facts. These are the facts.
- Nearly 62 million abortions have been done since 1973 Roe v Wade.
- Even more startling, 60% of these women were already mothers. 42% with two or more children.
- In 1973 another little referenced decision by the Supreme Court, Doe v Bolton, defined the health of the mother as a justifiable reason to terminate a pregnancy as the physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age, opening the doors to abortion for any reason at any time during the pregnancy.
- In 1976 the Court ruled the consent of parents in the case of minors or the husband in the case of a married woman as unconstitutional, Missouri v Danforth. Her body, her choice.
- Multiple studies have shown that women, by their own reporting, have abortions for financial reasons (can’t afford another baby), personal reasons (bad timing, not ready, or too old for a baby), interferes with life (career choices, educational plans, limits opportunities for the future), or not in a stable relationship with the father. Very low on the list of reasons is concern for her health or the health of her baby or factors commonly agreed on by society as reasons for abortions (rape, incest).
- While teenage pregnancy is a factor, the largest group of women having abortions are women in their twenties and thirties.
Facts. We are not in short supply. These are also the facts.
- A child’s heartbeat in the womb can be detected within three weeks of the start of the pregnancy.
- A child in the womb feels pain, sucks his thumb, smiles, and develops to the eventual potential to live outside the womb. Does a woman have the right to end that potential?
- There is evidence the baby reacts to sounds, light, and touch from the external environment yet abortion is allowed when a child is fully formed and is developing normally. Does the child have rights? Is that a condition of birth? Does the child have an opinion? Does the mother have the right to determine which of her children lives or dies, determined by the time of her life?
Or should society step up and demand women act like adults and accept the consequences of what is often an unplanned pregnancy? Should society support women so they have reasonable and viable alternatives to the destruction of a child? Aren’t there numerous couples hungry to adopt children? Isn’t adoption a choice as well? Or is the selfish choice also the easiest and most convenient?
What does it say about a society that doesn’t protect life at both ends of the spectrum? Will it ever condone with its silence a mother’s right to choose when the child is three? It’s not unthinkable that when you allow one person’s rights to override the rights of others, the unthinkable happens, becomes accepted, becomes the norm. Scary thought.
I wonder what could have been. Of the 62 million children lost, how many were potential doctors, teachers, nurses, peace makers, mothers, fathers, clergy, scientists, soldiers, mechanics, or Supreme Court justices? Maybe a future President of the United States. I guess we’ll never know.
**Data taken from Human Life International, the Guttmacher Institute, and the American Life League.