meaningful choices

i’ve been running into this idea of “meaningful choices” a lot lately.

it’s one of those uncomfortable thoughts – it doesn’t fit with how i want to categorize things, and it requires me to think outside my box a little bit.

but i’ve realized how important it is, and how much of a difference it has made in the way i perceive things.

what do we do when someone doesn’t have a “meaningful choice” available to them? does it even matter?

in some cases, i believe it does. fact: a lot of women (and girls) who are trafficked into the sex industry are aware they’re entering the sex industry. they choose it, and then things go terribly, terribly wrong. it’s still trafficking. it’s still exploitation. it’s still evil. does the fact that they were aware they were entering the sex industry make any difference? i say no.

it’s disgusting that we live in a world where poverty and hunger are so real, a woman resorts to selling her body just to feed herself/her children/her family. no matter how young (and precious) she is. this shouldn’t exist, it just shouldn’t happen. full stop. we have enough money over here that we can spend thousands to get a post-secondary education and we can buy things we simply enjoy (whether it be books or coffee or food that suits our mood).

in my opinion, that isn’t a meaningful choice to choose between starvation (or watching those you love starve) and selling your body.

it isn’t a meaningful choice – it’s a power imbalance, and that takes away from the choosing.

that’s easy for me to accept. but i was reading some anti-abortion posts recently, and i saw the phrase “abortion is MURDER” and it made me pause. after studying the legal definition of murder for a while, here’s what i know: abortion ISN’T murder. murder is an unlawful, culpable homicide. abortion doesn’t fit in that definition. and it’s dangerous to apply that label, because of the stigma murderer carries.

i’m as pro-life as they come. i hate abortion, i do. but i’ve also struggled with what that means. and i used to believe that we had to get rid of it, because it’s so evil but now i feel differently.

outlawing abortion wouldn’t do anything besides make people angry and bitter, and make abortions more dangerous. women would be at risk. and contrary to what many pro-choicers have said to me, i don’t hate women or stand against women’s rights either. (hello? do you even KNOW me? i’m a feminist, that’s all there is to it. try not to put words in my mouth next time.)

and frankly? i think that would be throwing a band-aid on a gunshot wound. the problem isn’t that abortion exists in the first place, it’s that people feel it’s their best/only option. in my ideal world, women shouldn’t have to choose between carrying the pregnancy to term that began with her rape and violation. that shouldn’t be a choice they have to make (yet, 1 in 3 women will be sexually abused at some point in her life. that’s NOT okay.) but it is. i’m not convinced that’s a “meaningful choice” when we do so little to actually fight against the causes?

maybe this means rethinking the struggles a young/single/poor/fill-in-the-blank mother can go through. ask ourselves WHY women choose this. i don’t believe for a second that they find it easy to make this decision. can we do more to address the root problems instead of the reaction?

for me, this really comes down to trying to put myself in other peoples’ shoes. it means trying to relate, and acknowledge that i can’t understand everyone’s perspective. that maybe i’m not always going to be right about things. that there is real pain and difficult decisions, and i don’t have the moral high ground. and that doesn’t matter, because that isn’t what Jesus and the gospel is about in the end.

and this applies to so many things we consider controversial these days. i think the Church, our Church, and its body has a lot of work to do. i don’t think we get bonus brownie heaven points for sharing a facebook photo that shares “abortion is MURDER” without ever trying to relate to a woman making that decision. or when we shake our head in disappointment over the strippers and prostitutes in North America, when we pray and bless those women in Asia (because apparently it’s different based off of geography somehow). i believe it applies to how we view same-sex marriage and gay rights, and we’re just missing the point. we’re missing so much because we’re so darn stubborn.

and i’m just sick of it. we need change, we need to do something, we just need to act.


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