Thanks to the Franciscan chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, the presidential State of the Union address was live streamed into the Gentile Gallery for all interested students. Unfortunately, for every convicting point President Obama made, there were also at least two hypocritical and hyperbolic sound bites soon to follow. The issues raised by the State of the Union address merited much more discussion than the Republican responder gave them.
For example, we could posit that while the new transportation system the president proposed would indeed create millions of new jobs and make inter-state transportation easier, it would also unify cities at the exclusion of suburban and rural parts of the United States. We could remind him that, in the process, he would be unjustly jeopardizing the ecosystem his political party claims to protect.
If we had the time, we could remind him of the true meaning of the word “dignity” and how, despite his insistence that all people have dignity worth protecting, he forgets the meaning of this “dignity” for which he’s supposedly fighting when he advocates for putting more and more state power into federal hands or for the abortive and contraceptive agendas. And we could definitely say that though he vows, “No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets or invade the privacy of American families,” it’s somehow different when the National Security Agency is the one invading privacy and violating the personal rights of American citizens.
But despite all of this, what stands out most, for me, about the State of the Union address was the commentary of our own student body.
When President Obama said, “I want our actions to tell every child in every neighborhood, your life matters,” several students in the audience cried out, voicing sentiments ranging from disagreement to disapproval of the sentiment to insults of the president. Most cited his pro-abortion stance as a contradiction of his previous statement. Which, granted, it is. But does that mean that renewing nationwide efforts on a local level to remind kids that they are loved isn’t possible until our very liberal president comes over to the pro-life side on the issue of abortion, too?
No. It doesn’t.
As a pro-life campus, we should be convicting elected officials when they push abortion. But we should also be happy that the distress of socially, emotionally and financially abandoned children is being acknowledged. We should be reminded that there are hundreds of thousands of neglected and unloved kids and young adults living all over our country who turn to gangs, violence, pornography, shallow relationships or even simple self-inflicted isolation as a result of never being told that their lives matter or that they are loved. We have a duty to build a culture of life for their sakes, too. We, as a pro-life people, have a duty to tell them that they matter and why they matter, too.
I’m not going to pretend that I like the Obama presidency. And I prefer to believe that the students booing President Obama for wanting to uplift vulnerable children while having a reputation for pushing abortion were simply shocked by his hypocrisy. Regardless, it’s a necessary reminder that if we reject the good efforts of misguided people because we want to make a stand against their destructive agendas, we’re going to lose many opportunities to change the lives of those who hunger for the truth and love that we, as Catholics in America, have a duty to bring to our country.