Americans are clearly divided in their response to the Dobbs decision of the Supreme Court regarding a constitutional right to an abortion. Some rejoice in a step toward the end of taking innocent life. Others experience anger over a loss of autonomy and fear of what may come next. When I read the proposed city council resolution on this issue, in My Edmonds News, a couple of observations came to mind. One, was how some in our ostensibly non-partisan council, are attempting to force other councilmembers into a public articulation of their position on abortion. As the preamble to the resolution states: “It is important that you know where your elected representatives stand on issues …” as though a councilmember’s position on abortion affects his or her ability to wisely engage in public works, engineering, parks and planning, sewers and safety, and yes, codes!
In looking over the proposed resolution I counted the word “right(s)” 13 times, but I didn’t find the word “responsibilities” once. In Sunday’s New York Times, I read an Opinion piece by Tish Harrison Warren. She offered an important insight for all of us:
“I recently came across a blog post by the literature scholar Alan Jacobs, describing Simone Weil’s insistence that “if we need a collective declaration of human rights, we also, and perhaps more desperately, need a declaration of human obligations.” I find this beautiful. Speaking as a woman, with a woman’s body, I want safety and freedom for all women. I want women to be full participants and empowered leaders in public life. I believe we, as human beings and image bearers of God, have a right to bodily integrity, protection and liberty.
But these rights also carry obligations to others, perhaps especially to those vulnerable bodies that depend on us. This is the heart of the question about abortion: What are our obligations to one another? We have an obligation to unborn children. We have an obligation to seek women’s safety and flourishing. For too long these obligations have been pitted against each other, but they need not be and, to move forward, we must create a world where they never are.”
It was “Tip” O’Neill who popularized the statement, “All politics is local.” Could a change in the national temperature begin here in Edmonds? My hope for our city is that rather than fan the flames of division, we work together for the common good. Can we manage both a responsibility to unborn children and seek women’s safety and flourishing? How can we make abortion increasingly unnecessary in our community? What services can we provide to assure every child is wanted and loved?
I have been encouraged with the work of the Foundation for Edmonds School District. The board is made up of folks across the political spectrum who have laid aside their partisan interests in order to come alongside families in our community with food through the Nourishing Network, scholarships for students in need, classroom grants to enrich their educational experience and, overall, to improve equity of opportunity for all students. A new organization in Edmonds is likewise made up of people with various political views, but who are working together for better governance. The Edmonds Civic Roundtable presents issues of importance to the people of Edmonds in a non-partisan environment where various solutions can be discussed in an atmosphere of good will as all look for the best answers to our needs. Many other individuals, churches, organizations, and groups of people are serving together to make our community a better place to live and work. What other challenges can new groups of citizens gather around?
Folks, can we set aside partisan ideology and mutual attacks that leave all of us wounded and turn our attention to the common good? Speaking of our common humanity and journey in life, G. K. Chesterton said it well: “We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.”