First They Came

The space is normally devoted to a discussion of how light impacts our health.  The key topic, of course, is on light, but in light of recent Supreme Court rulings, we are focusing on health.  The pun is intended.

I am reminded of the poem “First They Came”, a post-World War II composition by the German pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). It calls our attention to the silence of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise and subsequent incremental purging of group after group. Many variations and adaptations have been published since. It deals with themes of persecution, guilt, repentance, and, personal responsibility.

First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

I remember the efforts to pass the Equal Rights Amendment beginning in 1971, which ultimately were blocked by similar messaging to what we are hearing today regarding reproductive choices.  It is hard to imagine that women in this country are not protected in the 21st century with equal rights.  It took 144 years for women in the United States to be granted federal rights to vote and yet here we are 102 years later women still do not have rights over their own health choices.

The founding principles that make the USA a model of democracy are crumbling before our eyes. How can women pursue life, liberty, and happiness when they are a disadvantaged class?  We can agree to disagree, but ultimately, the issue comes down to personal choice.

Personal health choices should not be political or religious issues.  No one should be allowed to impose their belief system on another.  Yet here we are because the Constitution is interpreted “how it was written” by white landowners 233 ago.  Even the writers of the Constitution acknowledged that it should be reviewed every 20 years.  They had seen changes in society over their lifetimes, but we still interpret laws as if we are stuck in 1789.

“We The People” was intended to mean that government was to serve its citizens, yet it has failed once again to include all its citizens.

For all the women, and let’s not exclude men, who are not directly impacted by this decision, you are part of the body politic.  I remind you that your family, friends, your neighbors, your children’s friends, and children’s neighbors may be impacted, if not now, maybe in the future.  We may have lost sight that judgment isn’t our lane.  It isn’t for us to decide what is moral or righteous for another.  Personal beliefs are just like personal health choices — personal.

The women of the United States have a health crisis.  The issue of reproductive rights is just the tip of the iceberg.  Speak now or there will be no one left to speak for you.