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Makin’ It Work

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November 2021

His name is Gil. I see him most days just before I get to the office. He’s there at the corner of Madison and Wells in downtown Chicago, sitting in his chair. The kind with two big wheels on the sides next to the arm rests. He can get that thing moving backwards faster than most people can move it forwards. But mostly, he’s just sitting still, a plastic cup at his feet. Gil can use the help.

Gil is out there in the rain and snow and freezing cold when the winds are blowing right off Lake Michigan. He doesn’t have a lot of weight on him to keep him warm. But he’s still there. And though there’s not always a smile on his face, I’ve never known Gil to be grumpy about his circumstances. He has a saying he uses at just the right times, the times I need to hear it as much as he needs to say it. When I ask Gil how he’s doing, he’ll say, “Makin’ it work.” My hunch is that he learned it during his time in the Army. Gil’s a vet.

Thinking about Gil brings my mind to the millions who have served our country. We’re just a few days from celebrating their lives and honoring their sacrifices. Truth be told, we don’t do it enough. Without them, we wouldn’t be here enjoying the vast blessings of liberty. They gave up so much. Relatively few chose the military as a life’s calling. The vast majority were answering a call, often a letter from a draft board: it’s your turn to suit up. Those draftees could have run away, never to be found. But they didn’t.

For so many others, they heard a call inside them. They saw a country in trouble, whether from Redcoats invading, or states leaving the Union, or a naval fleet being destroyed on a sleepy Sunday morning, or skyscrapers falling on thousands of innocents. They knew they needed to help. And so they chose to walk away from what they had, and whom they had.

There’s an adage that military life can be hours of boredom mixed with moments of absolute terror. Boredom we’ve all known; terror not so. Men were given objectives—establish a beachhead, climb a hill, hold a bridge, grab a small island. Sounds simple enough until we remember that enemies were coming to thwart them, or were already there just waiting for them to arrive. All hell breaks loose. Think about D-Day. Many soldiers did not even make it out of the boats. Thousands died on the beaches. But the bullets striking them didn’t strike their buddies, which allowed the lucky ones to move forward. That’s how it is in war. Together, the living and the dead make it work. It’s why Veteran’s Day is so important to vets. It’s their chance to honor those who let them move forward.

Sadly, war continues in our country even when the bullets aren’t flying. The war against the unborn will soon enter its 50th year, and it has been far bloodier than all others combined. It’s not about whether an unborn baby is a human being. Science ended that debate decades ago. It’s being fought over an idea that humanity had seemingly rejected centuries ago: “might makes right.” That the powerful may impose their will against the powerless. That women have a super-right to kill life growing within them, life that in the vast, vast majority of cases they participated in making. For far more often than not, sexual relations are voluntary, not imposed.

Those who think we can do far better for the unborn and women themselves are in a hellacious battle, for the opposition is deeply entrenched and heavily fortified. It comes from every branch of government. It comes from politicians who pander to abortionists, who fund politicians so that they will return the favor. It comes from media that tells only one side of the story. It comes from churches that have confused sin with compassion. It comes from people who won’t accept the difference or would just rather not be bothered.

But amidst all the opposition, there are people looking for and finding ways to make the right to life work. Texas has enacted the Heartbeat Act barring abortion after six weeks, when ultrasound can detect a beating heartbeat. To avoid unconstitutionality, the Act only allows for private enforcement. The rabidly pro-abortion Biden administration has kicked and screamed about it all the way to the Supreme Court. Whether the Act will withstand further challenge remains to be seen, but for now, it’s working. Other states may follow suite.

The right-to-life movement is largely grassroots. It’s people doing what they can, big or little, to change the world for the better. Like our military veterans, they are ordinary citizens answering a call deep in their hearts to change the hearts of others. They meet resistance. In our neck of the woods, we just ended a 40 Days for Life campaign. Opponents came out just to disrupt peaceful assembly and prayer. A large 40-Days banner and some equipment were stolen. In war, things like that happen. But the movement will move forward. I know another guy whose hope, dream, and prayer is that one day, he will be able to convince a women to turn away from the abortion mill she had planned to enter. So he spends the hours it takes, and endures the ridicule and rejections he gets. He knows that saving even one life is worth it all.

Jesus never said that serving Him would be be without opposition. He didn’t promise a tiptoe through the tulips. He didn’t rule out frustration and discouragement. He said that He would be with us. Our job is to just move forward. He’s the One makin’ it work.

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 2021.  Culture of Life.  Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted.  Visit us at http://www.the-culture-of-life.com/ and on Facebook.

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