James Kerian: ND Students At March For Life Seek Justice, Not Aesthetics


Almost two weeks ago, on Thursday, January 22nd, high school students from North Dakota led the largest human rights march in the world through the streets of Washington DC.

They were marching on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v Wade to remind Americans of the more than 50 million innocent children who have been killed in America as a result of that decision and to call for equal protection under the law for about-to-be-born children.

The March For Life is an annual event but the prominent place given to North Dakota’s students this year led to a little more coverage of the event in the North Dakota media.  The Fargo Forum, predictably, was only willing to cover the event by sharing criticism of it.  Letters to the editor have, more rationally, acknowledged the value of students learning to “stand up for what they believe in.”

What impressed me most about these students, however, is that the cause they were choosing to stand up for is one to which people are only driven by a genuine concern for justice.  In America we are too often driven in the causes we choose by a desire for aesthetics.  We don’t want to see anything ugly.

When we see the murder of seventeen journalists at Charlie Hebdo all over our TV screens it’s a crisis that must be dealt with but since no one put Boko Haram’s crimes that same week in our face we’re just not that concerned with them. When a tsunami/earthquake/hurricane is covered by the media and we see people in danger of dying for lack of food or medical care we take up the cause.  The everyday plight of hundreds of millions of people dying for lack of food or medical care does not similarly move us because we don’t have to look at it.  When the media put the atrocities committed by ISIS in front of everyone [mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]In America we are too often driven in the causes we choose by a desire for aesthetics.  We don’t want to see anything ugly.[/mks_pullquote]Americans became understandably eager to see ISIS destroyed but now that they have moved out of the media spotlight few Americans seem concerned that ISIS still controls large parts of Iraq and Syria.  Only a few years ago Americans in both parties were deeply concerned by the anecdotes the media brought out to illustrate the horror of tens of millions of Americans living without health insurance.  We still have tens of millions of Americans without health insurance but the media no longer throws the anecdotes in our faces so our political publications are no longer filled with plans for lowering the cost of health insurance.

This unfortunate habit of selecting our social/political crusades on aesthetic concerns masquerades as compassion and it is a large part of why abortion is still legal in this country.  The easy and aesthetically pleasing solution to a crisis pregnancy is not to volunteer at your local maternity home.  It’s to point a mother toward a building where, for a few hundred dollars, she can make the problem go away so that no one will have to be bothered by the sight of it anymore.

But no parent has a right to kill their helpless child and whether the child is in their parent’s womb or in a crib in their parent’s bedroom the parent has an obligation to care for and protect the child until they can safely arrange for someone else to take over that responsibility.  That’s what justice demands, regardless of what we may find aesthetically pleasing.  The North Dakota students who led the March For Life deserve credit for standing up for justice without being driven by any desire for their own comfort or convenience.