Committed to the Cause of Life

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At this point it is impossible to doubt the raw power of the undercover videos unmasking Planned Parenthood's monstrous practices, videos that are effectively turning the organization into an atrocity exhibition for everyone to see (but only some to comment on). The Center for Medical Progress, the group responsible for the videos, deserves our deepest gratitude not only for uncovering this evil but also for modeling what a sustained commitment to the ethics of life looks like. Spending years deploying a covert offensive against one of the most politically entrenched organizations sounds thrilling, until you realize what is involved is largely unglamorous investigative minutiae.

Here is a description of what went into generating these videos. I'm sure movie studio execs will be tripping over themselves to secure the rights.

"[We] spent two-and-a-half years logging thousands of research hours to painstakingly gather hundreds of hours of undercover footage, dozens of eye-witness testimonies, and nearly two hundred pages of primary source documents."

Sounds like quite an adventure. Simply electrifying.

The reality is that the world is not often altered by spectacle but by persistence. The videos themselves are explosive, but the work that went into them, the work that made them possible, was in many ways the antithesis of the showy activism emblematic of our age. Our outrage is ephemeral and fleeting precisely because we have not learned that what it takes to uphold life is to give up one's own.

This is why it's important to highlight the Center's behind-the-scenes labor, and not just the videos the labor produced, as especially worthy of recognition. They have modeled for us what an undaunted commitment to upholding the sacredness of life can accomplish. There is a fervor that is wide-eyed and composed, a kind of renewable moral energy, powered by the willingness to champion the cause of life that is on display here. But you miss it if all you see are the videos and not what it has taken to produce them.

Though I am not privy to the private motivations of the journalists involved with the Center, it's not hard to see what this project has required. History is replete with examples not only of moral courage but moral patience. Indeed, if history is any guide, it is the focused durability of men and women to a cause that has effected real and lasting change. It is the refusal to acquiesce to apathy; a refusal to look away; a willingness to remain haunted by inaudible voices whose capacity to ask for their right to life to be honored is not yet developed.

Our reactions to the various injustices daily broadcasted on social media are often fierce, but uncostly. The Center has exemplified what it requires to take up the cause of life. If we are not animated by the same level of commitment -- each in our own ways, of course, since journalists  are hardly the only ones who can make a difference here -- we fail to uphold the glory of life. For the videos to do their purifying work, we will need to replicate the vigilance that the Center's journalists have shown, a commitment that remains even when the relevant hashtags no longer trend so well.

Berny Belvedere is a professor of Philosophy and writer who lives in Miami, Florida. Follow him @bernybelvedere on Twitter

Posted August 10, 2015 @ 4:58 PM by Guest

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