Ruth Gadebusch

Troubling Contradictions

Ruth Gadebusch

By Ruth Gadebusch

Try as I might, I simply can’t understand so many of the right wing’s inconsistent stands. Calling themselves pro life, nowhere is contradiction more true than in their condemnation for anyone contemplating abortion but the death penalty for a wide variety of crimes is just fine.

We all know that our justice system can—and does—fail on occasion, but they would seem to value the life of an entity that cannot survive on its own as more valuable than that of a possibly innocent person put to death. Or for that matter death is death. How do they justify the death penalty for the guilty? They pick and choose whose life is sacred.

I am tired of hearing that “the Church” ought to dismiss Biden because “he is for abortion.” What is it about the language that they do not understand? In no way is he for abortion. He is simply supporting the right of women to control their own bodies.

There are many reasons for an abortion and it is not up to some stranger to decide whose reason is valid and whose is not. Our president is obeying the law of the land in regard to the separation of church and state. Could the problem be that they just don’t understand the document that they loudly shout allegiance to—the U.S. Constitution?

Any religion has the right to demand that its adherents obey the rules of the church, but it does not have the right to impose its beliefs on others. Many who would not have an abortion themselves recognize that they cannot impose their beliefs on others. This nation was formed by those escaping forced religious practices. They did not come just to repeat the same mistakes.     

All too often, those who would force their religious beliefs on others are the ones currently screaming long and loud that to wear a mask or get a vaccine is infringing on their freedom. It has generally been accepted that all societies have rules to make living together peaceful so long as they are administered fairly for the good of all. There is no contradiction in the idea that the good of all is what matters, where the emphasis should lie.

For years, few questioned the value of immunizing against the plagues that seldom left a family untouched. In my parents’ time, full adulthood of all the children was seldom reached without the sorrow of losing at least one child to one of the diseases no longer feared by us.

Anyone of my generation could hardly fail to remember how we embraced the prevention of polio. We spent the summers in fear and trembling that this would be our bad year to be struck. Never was anyone more ready to welcome a vaccine than we were for the promise of polio eradication.

And what an advancement those sugar cubes were! No more deaths, crippling or the horrible iron lung. Such a minimal fix as a mask or vaccine would have been no loss of freedom to protect ourselves and others. Either would have been the long-awaited blessing if something so minimal could be so helpful.

Few, if any, of us alive have ever seen smallpox. It is an almost forgotten scourge due to the herd immunity gained from full acceptance of the value of the vaccine. What can anyone be thinking in refusing the Covid vaccine or the nuisance of wearing a mask for the good of the whole? Can it be that political power surpasses thinking?

We accept the inconvenience of stop signs, burglar alarms, purifying water, automatic safety turnoffs and a wide variety of other measures to make living safe. They are not inconveniences. They are necessities for the good of the whole.

There is the testimony of case after case of Covid-19 that was contracted because the victims refused the vaccine on some flimsy excuse, but those same excuses went down the drain when it came to the medicine to offer some relief to the victim. Nor does it mean much on the deathbed to wish one had had the vaccine.

Even my two-year-old great-grandson wore a mask on a recent visit without complaining. All adults involved also had been vaccinated. For those too young for the vaccine, a mask is the only protection available except for constant sanitizing and quarantine. It is the least we can do to protect all.

There is no contradiction to the belief that failing these simple protections is the ultimate selfishness, inconsiderate of one’s fellow/sister humans, all the more so when children who have no choice are involved.

Current statistics clearly indicate that children are not escaping. Yes, it is generally conceded that formal schooling is better than virtual learning to say nothing of the disarray caused for families having to completely rearrange their lives to accommodate home care. And we have adults including parents who think it is too much trouble to wear a mask! What are they thinking? The thinking seems to be in short supply here too. 

Then too, how can we expect health workers, teachers, etc., to be willing to fulfill the needs caused, or at the least exacerbated, by others’ failure to take the simplest precautions? It has become a frightening matter when so many eschew common sense allowing others to bear the burden.

On an even broader scale, one political party has broadcast time and time again that its purpose is to destroy the other party’s proposals no matter what they are. They give no credibility to the idea of bipartisanship as a part of living together in a compact.

Alas, a major tool for accomplishing this plan is to develop all manner of voter suppression, the most cherished of political principles, the bottom line basis for this nation. What a sad state of affairs. What are they thinking?

Again, I can only conclude that it is sheer power-grabbing. If you can’t win by playing fair and square, resort to whatever underhanded method catches your fancy. Not exactly what our forefathers expected after 200 years of living under the document they so carefully created.

None of us ever expected it to be all sweetness and light, but even less did we expect the divisiveness of today. All the more frightening is the precipice that we stood at on that fateful Jan. 6. Never have we come so near to falling into the canyon of no return. What has made it especially frightening is the type of people who have supported what can only be recognized as an insurrection by any thinking person.

Opposing a bipartisan investigation can only confirm that they know that the reality of an insurrection would only be confirmed just as the investigation has clearly shown that we have atrociously crossed the line of decency in the torture we have inflicted on those whom we think might possibly have been involved in the terror inflicted on us in the 9/11 attack that we are commemorating on its 20th anniversary.

Both events, one by outsiders, another by our own should be serious wake-up calls. When we add our racial history to the mix the contradiction between what we say, our constitutional principles, and what we do screams at us. 

As this is being written, the party that proclaims itself as the one of fiscal responsibility is forcing the state of California to have a recall election against a governor who was already past the midway point of his term when the measure qualified. How do they justify the millions of taxpayer dollars spent when the same opportunity would be available in a regularly scheduled election in a few months? It certainly is contradictory to fiscal responsibility.    

I am frightened, I am troubled, I am fearful for this nation where so many are separated from the principles of the world’s longest-standing democracy, the nation that has been the hope of the world. This contradiction of what we do speaking so loudly that what we say can’t be heard is hardly the mark of a great nation. Lest we go the way of the Roman Empire, we are challenged.

*****

Community activist Ruth Gadebusch, a former naval officer, has served on the Fresno Unified Board of Education and related organizations as well as those promoting women’s equality.

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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