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September 2017

The British are coming! The British are coming!” Those are the words we remember about Paul Revere’s midnight ride of April 1775. But historians tell us that he probably didn’t say them. His operation was more discreet, and all colonists were British. In the end the error is harmless, a simple case of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

Almost two centuries later, the British actually did come. This time, they didn’t carry muskets and bayonets. They carried guitars. They were known as mopheads, not redcoats. And in the ’60s, they took the country by storm. Their undisputed leaders were four guys from Liverpool—the Beatles. Americans couldn’t get enough of their music, or them. Song after song hit the top of the pop charts with a couple weeks after release. The Beatles were more than a band. They were a phenomenon that changed the music scene.

One Beatles classic came towards the end of their magical ride. Paul McCartney’s Blackbird celebrated the courage of a group of black women, the Little Rock Nine, who desegregated an all-white Arkansas high school in 1957. It’s a great song. And like truly great music, it can speak to hearts in later generations. Over 40 years after McCartney wrote Blackbird, it spoke to the heart of a young father. His wife had died in childbirth. His son, born at only 24 weeks, lay dying in an incubator. Unable to do anything else, he sat there and sang:

Blackbird singing in the dead of night

                       Take these broken wings and learn to fly,

                       All your life.

                       You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

                       Blackbird singing in the dead of night

                      Take these sunken eyes and learn to see,

                      All your life.

                      You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

                      Blackbird, fly, Blackbird, fly,

                      Into the light of the dark black night.

To fly. It’s what we were all about from the very first moment of our conception. Without any conscious decision making, we wanted to grow. A single cell became two, then four, then eight, and on and on until their number reached into the trillions. Our systems developed in amazing ways, and our body sizes grew until we could no long be contained in our mothers’ wombs. On our own, we decided when it was time to take leave. We wanted that moment to arrive—the moment to be free. We wanted to grower larger and larger, to learn more and more, to do and keep doing. We wanted to experience life in all its ways. No matter how broken our wings or sunken our eyes, with all that’s in us we wanted to fly. We wanted to fly into the light of the dark black night. And every person who has ever lived has wanted the same thing. It comes with our humanity.

But we live in the age of denial, a denial that has turned our culture into a darkness. We have denied that others can want what we have always wanted—and have always possessed. In that denial, we have lost the humanity of the other. It can be seen in countless ways. In the Houston area, a newborn baby was recently discovered in bushes, her body covered with ants and dirt. Perhaps it can be understood—though never accepted—as the desperate act of a panicked mother. But how do we understand the creators of a proposed telephone app, the “Abortion Simulator.” It allows players to manipulate surgical tools to abort unborn babies from early term to 24+ weeks.

And how do we understand a recent CBS report that “… few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.” But not through gene therapy or preventative medicine. Through abortion. About 98% of babies testing positive for the syndrome have been aborted. The people there find nothing wrong with it; they don’t see it as murder because they don’t see the unborn baby as a life. A hospital counselor spoke of the prevailing attitude: “We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication… preventing suffering for the child and for the family.”

It’s the ultimate denial. Not just a denial of an unborn baby’s humanity, a fact so well established that one could question the counselor’s grounding in science. It’s a denial of who we are, how we live, and what we can be. At times, we are the complications. We are the disappointments. We are the heartbreaks. We suffer and cause suffering. But we don’t commit mass suicide because we believe we have something to offer. We believe in our reason to be here. And we believe that life is meant for living. In short, we believe in our right to fly. Why would we ever deny that right to anyone else, no matter how small or infirm?

A worker at a crisis pregnancy center recently summed up why she works there. Believe it or not, it’s not to save babies. It’s to save lives. Babyhood is a stage of life that passes ever so quickly. But it is a stage that must be lived if people are to become the movers and shakers, the question answerers, the problem solvers, the music makers, the space explorers, the trailblazers of the world. They are the ones allowed to live long enough to achieve their full potential. Some will fly longer than others, to different places, accomplishing different works. But they’ll fly. That’s how God intended it, broken wings, sunken eyes, and all.

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly, into the light of the dark black night.


Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.

© Paul V. Esposito 2017. Culture of Life. Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted. Visit us at and on Facebook.

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