Abortion a matter of personal choice, not 'dogmatic teachings'


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There's a wonderful scene in the 1972 movie Cabaret, set in Berlin in 1931. Starring Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles, Joel Grey as Emcee, Michael York as Brian Roberts, and Helmut Grien as Maximilian Von Heune. The scene is midway through the movie and takes place in a beer garden with Brian and Max. During their conversations, a blond-haired, blue-eyed, Aryan member of Hitler Youth stands and starts to sing a rousing song?#34;"Tomorrow Belongs to Me." His inspired singing rouses everyone in the beer garden to stand and join in, except for one old man. The close-up image of the puzzled, perplexed, weathered-face of the old-man was unforgettable. For 33 years, that face has been etched into my minds-eye. I never understood why.

Today I know why. I've come to have that same perplexed face. The expression triggered by my ears hearing the song "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" reverberating from every outpost of this nation and of this village. Along with numerous variants of: "Do it My Way," "Do as I Say, Not as I do," "I know Best," and "I Carry the Cross the Correct Way."

Certain segments of the Oak Park community know this song well, and sing it loudly or piously. One who sings it piously is Gregory Black. His letter in VIEWPOINTS ("Abortion is the biggest evil, but we still need dialogue," May 4) is a classic rendition of "Tomorrow Belongs to Me." Although he sings his Catholic song quietly, criticizes the "lunatic right-wing elements of Christianity," and alludes to issues of dialogue and debate, he's nonetheless professing Catholic Church, dogmatic teachings.

Historically, the Catholic Church has very little to be proud of?#34;especially "life" issues. Has he forgotten about Hitler's Pope, Pope Pius XII (1939?#34;1958?#34; the most dangerous churchman in history? Black bases his opinions on "convinced by reason and [Catholic] faith." Perhaps Oak Park's favorite son, Frank Lloyd Wright, best stated what I feel about the Catholic Church and its teachings, "Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change."

Black goes on to state, "We can create a civil dialogue on these issues [right to life]. But between the lines Black infers, "We (Catholic Church) are right?#34; Tomorrow Belongs to Me!" The Catholic Church doesn't engage in dialogue and is extremely slow to change its positions. Take the matter of science and astronomy for example. It only took the Catholic Church 359 years to acknowledge the fact that the earth revolved around the sun. In 1633, Pope Paul V initiated a trial of Galileo for heresy. This heresy for supporting Copernicus' theory that the earth (and the Pope) was not the center of the universe. It wasn't until 1992 that the Catholic Church acknowledged this scientific fact. The Catholic Church has been opposed?#34;past, present, future?#34;to free inquiry.

To me faith is a personal matter and not something that should be put on public display or influence public policy. Abortion should likewise be a personal matter. My mother tells me stories of girlfriends in the 1920s who used coat hangers in alleys to get rid of unwanted "life." Is this where Black wants us to go back to?

In 1973 the Supreme Court handed down a decision in Roe v. Wade. Using the concept of privacy and the belief that individuals should be able to make important decisions about their own lives, the court determined that only a pregnant woman and her medical care provider should be involved in a decision to end a pregnancy. The key words here are "privacy," "personal decision making," and "responsibility." I find that any organization, or individual(s), that try to impose their self-serving views and self-supporting dogma?#34;their self-righteous group-think?#34;on any individual's rights is very threatening and very scary.

I've lived a very rich and varied life?#34;a true cabaret. As Sally Bowles sang in Cabaret "What good is sitting alone in your room, come hear the music play." I did hear the music play accompanied by individualism, curiosity, responsibility, and integrity. "No," tomorrow does not belong to me. I shudder at the thought of whom it belongs to.

In ending and on a lighter note, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Bryan Lanning's letter, "Chief Illiniwek would make a super Dooper," (May 4). It's the first time in four years of reading WEDNESDAY JOURNAL that I've laughed out loud. Maybe that's what's missing now-a-days: we've lost our sense of humor. Maybe "laughter is the best medicine" for all of our ills.

Don Gregor
Oak Park

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