Say it with a Red Envelope

27 comments

redenvelopeI’ve had a number of people tell me about this really neat project called The Red Envelope Project.  It’s a worthy project and is a neat, effective, peaceful way to begin to express the outrage most Americans feel about Abortion and any actions that disrespect the dignity of human life.

We all know the current administration has already shown a firm committment to spreading the “culture of death” that John Paul II so often spoke of.

Edmund Burke reminds is that “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Here’s one more opportunity to do somethingThe Red Envelope Project.

27 comments Add comment

Amy Bilyeau March 26, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Sorry to burst your bubble Matthew, but I worked for 5 years at the White House. Your mail will sent to a processing center in Maryland where it will be x-rayed and tested for anthrax and other biological substances. If it is deemed to be “unfriendly” it will be destroyed. Please, believe prayer is way more effective!

Kimi March 26, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Doesn’t responsibility begin before conception?

Kimi March 26, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Also, please, please, please take the time to become informed about efforts that actually do reduce rates of abortion. Making abortion illegal does not correlate with reducing the rate of abortion. Some of the countries with the least restrictions on abortions, such as The Netherlands, have much, much lower rates than we have in the US. Many countries where abortion is illegal continue to have high rates of abortion.

It may feel gratifying to try to make abortion illegal, but while we focus on that we are failing to act in ways that have actually been proven to reduce abortion (such as helping to develop critical thinking skills and self-esteem in teenagers and speaking out against stereotypes that limit girls).

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for well-intentioned people to aim their energy in the wrong direction. Please care enough to do what works rather than what makes you feel righteous.

Annette March 27, 2009 at 7:34 am

If through council a person still remains unenlightened and refuses to live the gospel, it is a difficult decision to refuse someone Jesus, Himself. A bishop, as we all know is our shepard in this world in our quest for eternal living with our Saviour. He is a teacher with an incredible mission to guide us to salvation.

Those are tough calls. On one side I am burdened by the Nancy Pelosi’s of this world because through their mortal choices place people, like the bishop in positions of “tough love” in hopes of saving them.
On the other side, when and if it is denied, it is food for the fools to continue Catholic bashing.

It does not matter as the right thing within the Gospel of our Lord Jesus must be done as we can sin within their sin by the choices we make in our response.

Cindy March 27, 2009 at 8:31 am

Regarding Kimi’s comment: I have always maintained that promiscuity is an act of hopelessness. When girls (and boys) feel empowered and believe that their lives will be productive and meaningful they do not engage in behaviors that jeopardize that life. We as faithful adults can place greater attention on evangelizing the young people in our homes and communities and trust The Way, The Truth, and The Life to inform kids and reduce unwanted pregnancies. Amy is right. Prayer is the most effective weapon in the war on abortion. I know you disagree with that, Matt.

Matthew Warner March 27, 2009 at 9:10 am

Cindy – Whoa? How do you KNOW I disagree with that? wow.

Just because I support praying AND doing other things to help bring about an end to abortion doesn’t mean i think prayer is less powerful. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

We must do both. People that think we can neglect other practical measures and solely privately pray to end abortion are simply, in my opinion, often shirking responsibility.

It took a war to end slavery in our country. It took protests and complaining and court trials AND prayer to end institutional racism in this country. It is going to take the same to end abortion.

To sit back and cop out on trying to make it illegal because there are “other” ways to help the situation is half-hearted. We must do BOTH. Of course there are other ways to help lessen abortion and we must do those…ALSO! To suggest that we should not work to make abortion illegal is outrageous.

Many times people want to skip out on the public more visible stuff because it is harder, embarrasses them, creates conflict, or whatever. But I’m sorry, that’s what we’re called to do. That’s not my “bubble” that needs to be burst. That’s the truth.

Jesus did not come into this world to silently pray. Of course he did that very much and was the source of everything he went out and did. But it’s just that…he went out and DID stuff. He stood up for Truth. He was persecuted. He was publicly humiliated. He was tortured and he was killed.

It’s His model. Not mine.

GMT March 28, 2009 at 10:31 am

As to Amy’s comments: Will the White House really disregard a flood of mailings like these? I agree with Matthew that we cannot just sit back. We need to PRAY, mainly our dear heavenly Mother’s ROSARY, and we need to DO. Any culture or country not protecting life is getting on the path to self-destruct. Let’s support this project!

Kimi March 28, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Cyndi,

Yes, promiscuity is an act of hopelessness. We need to focus there.

Making abortion illegal does not have a good track record worldwide for reducing abortion.

In addition, making abortion illegal does nothing to

– reduce promiscuity.

– help people to feed mal-nourished children who have preventable illnesses.

– end the practices that cause so many babies to be born with birth defects.

– reduce the horrific abuse of unwanted children that is rampant in this country.

If we address hopelessness and give people good skills (such as critical reasoning, spiritual strength, basic parenting, conflict resolution, probem-solving) and knowledge about choices/consequences, we can simultaneously reduce promiscuity, preventable diseases in babies and children, birth defects, child abuse, AND abortion.

Evangelizing is a good idea as long as it is the sort of evangelizing that helps rather than just makes the evangelizer feel good while alienating the target. It’s important to learn from the experiences of others and the evidence we can find.

Also let’s be clear that the world rate of abortion seems likely to be much higher this year because of the world financial crisis triggered by events in our country last year. I cry because so much of this crisis could have been prevented had we been paying attention to bad policies. Politicians have manipulated people’s hearts to distract us from looking at sources of all these problems that have been building for decades.

Kimi March 28, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Matt,

“It took a war to end slavery in our country. It took protests and complaining and court trials AND prayer to end institutional racism in this country. It is going to take the same to end abortion.”

I’m wondering why you’ve focused on some political techniques that our Lord did not advocate. He has given us much better tools if we only follow his Word. Gandhi and Martin Luther King both studied and followed the teachings of Christ with great success. Why can’t we? Christ our Lord did not teach war. He was extremely critical and rejecting of the courts. Yes, He did protest, but His was no generic protest. He protested quite thoughtfully.

Let’s also look at some of the countries that have had far greater success in reducing abortions and unintended pregnancies than we have had here. Our teen abortion rate is 8 times higher than that in Germany and abortion is legal there. The US teen pregnancy rate is 9 times higher than that of the Netherlands, 5 times higher than that in Germany, and 4 times higher than that in France. The techniques you’ve mentioned do not tend to show up with high frequency when we look at the techniques used successfully to reduce abortion and teen pregnancy in other countries. Why not look at the evidence instead of plowing ahead with efforts that may be emotionally gratifying but cause harm?

GMT March 29, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Did I understand Kimi correctly? Does she advocate legalizing abortion because it has reduced abortions in other countries? For a civilized and christian society the matter at hand is not REDUCING abortions, we need to strive to ELIMINATE abortions. We need to PROTECT LIFE in all its forms. It has been given us from God, together with the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” Abortion = murder. How can women be in favor of killing a life God gave them, and a soul He gave this life? Where do we end up as a society not protecting life?
Let’s pray for all those in favor of abortions! Let’s pray to Mary, our dear mother in heaven. Pray the rosary!

Kabbie March 29, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Wonderful project. Please let the wonderful people who have put this together know that the word “wihout” needs a T “without.” Was there 30 seconds and it jumped out at me. May give others a disingenuous view of a Blessed project. Hey – and I can’t even spell my own “stuff” – A find this “slow” minded person should never have seen!

Matthew Warner March 30, 2009 at 9:45 am

Kimi,

I agree we must do other things to reduce abortion – such as restore our our sense of sexual morality.

But PART of the problem w your stats is that while numbers of surgical abortions in those countries you mention may be less, their respect for life is far less, their use of other immoral means are higher, and the integrity of the family is being destroyed.

Are you saying that if we made abortion illegal in our country it would not reduce the number of abortions? I’m very confused.

I guarantee you that if abortions were made illegal the number of them would DRASTICALLY decrease. And it is one of the necessary steps, as GMT mentioned, to our real goal which is to eliminate them.

Further, our country’s leaders need to be just that…leaders. They must set a moral example. I find it hard to believe that if murdering 3yr olds was LEGAL in this country that you would be arguing that we should really just focus on OTHER means of reducing murder of 3 yr olds? Or that if slavery was still LEGAL you would be suggesting we DON’T try to make it ILLEGAL? are you seriously arguing to not try and make abortion illegal?

Nobody is saying not to do those other things ALSO. But come on. I pray that you will open your heart to allow the truth to be your priority – not an ideology.

I don’t oppose legalized abortion because it is “emotionally gratifying.” I oppose it because our Lord opposes it. I oppose it because our Church opposes it. I oppose it because it is the right thing to do.

Cindy March 31, 2009 at 7:49 am

Matt,
I didn’t mean to presume to know your mind. Merely that I have questioned the over-politicization of this issue and you have categorically disagreed with me. You are consistent. I completely understand that you believe in the power of prayer and that you believe that an authentic belief compels us into the public square on this issue. I personally agree, although I think it will never be settled in the public square. It took a war in this country to end slavery but many nations peacefully abolished it. And, tragically, slavery continues to this day despite being illegal in every country in the world.
BTW:
I just finished rereading “Deus Caritas Est” again this weekend. Pope Benedict is receiving much less attention than he deserves. The love of God propels us into the world in service of others.
Thanks for a good blog, Matt.

Matthew Warner March 31, 2009 at 8:00 am

Cindy – I have never advocated using violence to end abortion…as you know. And certainly not a real war.

But how do you think many nations peacefully abolished slavery? Do you think it had at least a little bit to do with a political change in either policy or leadership (i.e. it very much involved the public square)? I guarantee you it did. That’s all I’m advocating. Why anyone would be against that type of political change if they are truly against abortion is beyond me.

And just because making something illegal doesn’t COMPLETELY ELIMINATE it (as you noted with slavery around the world) does not therefore mean we shouldn’t make it illegal or that making it illegal won’t drastically reduce it. Just because it won’t completely eliminate it is no basis to reject policy.

Thanks for the comments and for your faithful participation in the conversation on the blog, Cindy! I appreciate it.

Kimi April 2, 2009 at 10:04 pm

No, GMT, you did not understand my comments. You got the causal relationships out of order and reversed almost everything I said. I’ll try again.

Trying to make abortion illegal is a waste of time for anyone who wants to reduce OR eliminate abortion in the United States. We know that the strategy is ineffective. Abortions are often extremely common in countries where it is illegal, just as possession of marijuana is extremely common in the United States. We know that focusing all attention on making abortion illegal actually guarantees that we will FAIL.

We do know of other strategies that have been used successfully in other countries to reduce abortion. In the US, because we have ignored successful strategies, we have missed the opportunity to cut the rate of teen abortion by 87%. That’s a lot of abortions we could have prevented had we not been emotional drawn to an approach that has proven ineffective around the world.

The only logical reason to keep people emotionally committed to try to make abortion illegal is to keep them distracted and politically controllable. People who want you to believe that making abortion illegal will eliminate it are either very gullible or purposefully trying to manipulate you.

Also, we don’t “need to legalize abortion.” I’m not sure how you could have read what I said that way unless you are purposefully trying to confuse people. Here in the US it has been legal for decades. But that’s besides the point.

Kimi April 2, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Matt,

When you claim to speak for the mind of God it is blasphemous and extremely offensive. A human can rightfully speak for his beliefs. He cannot with any humility or reverence say that he knows what the Lord wants.

Kimi April 2, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Please, Matt, learn from the success of others. Every day that we look the other way means more abortions that we failed to prevent. Please understand why our European sisters and brothers have been much more successful at reducing abortions that we have. By ignoring the facts, you share in the collective guilt of those if have been relying too heavily on that which belongs to Caesar – legilation. Please, place your faith in that which belongs to the love that Jesus commanded.

Kimi April 2, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Please Matt, why have the Netherlands, Belgium Finland, and Italy have much, much lower rates of abortion that we have? Why have Catholics in the US historically had the highest rate of abortion of any religion? Why do Catholic Latin American countries have tremendously high rates of abortion? Is it possible that Catholics have been afraid to love?

Here is a quote from a Guttmacher Public Policy Report sent to President Bush in 2001:

“For example, abortion is completely illegal throughout Latin America, but abortion rates in Peru, Chile and the Dominican Republic have been estimated to be more than twice the U.S. rate. In Brazil and Colombia, they are substantially higher as well. At the same time, these countries’ maternal mortality rates, which are highly associated with unsafe abortion, range from six times to more than 20 times the rate in the United States.
By contrast, in virtually every country in which abortion is legal and also widely available from trained clinicians, abortion-related mortality and morbidity is virtually nonexistent. Moreover, in these countries, abortion rates are by no means necessarily high. Indeed, in some countries in which abortion is not only legal but also very easily accessible to women and even free of charge under a national health insurance system, rates of abortion are among the world’s lowest. Countries in this category include the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland and Italy.”

http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/04/1/gr040101.html

Kimi April 2, 2009 at 10:34 pm

(Continued)

Why have so many Catholics tried to eliminate or reduce abortions by placing faith in Caesar (the law) more than by placing faith in the love that Jesus taught us? Where neighbors treat each other with love, where women are heard and treated with the kind of respect that Jesus showed to the women around him, abortion rates are very low.

Matthew Warner April 3, 2009 at 7:41 am

Wow, Kimi. I appreciate the thoughts. Unfortunately, you present a very skewed outlook on the issue.

#1) You infer that by also pursuing legal solutions to lessening abortion that somehow we are not loving these women? That is unfounded. What else would you have our pro-life community do in addition to what they are already doing to better love these women and children suffering from abortion? It seems that you believe making abortion easier for them is the loving thing to do? I hope not!

#2) We ARE loving them. If we truly love them we will do everything we can to keep them from making the mistake of abortion.

#3) I find it very amusing that you accuse me of being blasphemous and offensive for supposing that God is against Abortion (which, if one believes in the Catholic CHurch, then we know without doubt that he is against it). And then you turn around and proclaim to me with confidence “the love that Jesus taught us”? How do you KNOW what Jesus taught? How do you KNOW you can believe what you read in scripture? How do you KNOW any of this? And therefore how can you tell ME with YOUR arrogance that I am wrong? That’s called ironic. We can play those games all day long back and forth, Kimi. That relativism is NOT Catholicism. God gave us a Church and a mind to reason that we may come to know Truth with a kind of certainty that enables us to proclaim Truth with confidence. It’s not arrogance or presuming to know the mind of God so please cut that out.

Matthew Warner April 3, 2009 at 7:54 am

And further, Kimi, your stats for the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, etc. are all deceitful. I pray that you would come to see that. I’m not sure if you know that deep down or if you are honestly uneducated as to why surgical abortion rates are so low in those countries.

Those countries don’t reproduce! So of course they have lower abortion rates. Give me a break. Additionally, in the Netherlands 25% of people are STERILIZED. And the culture is saturated with contraception from grade school up. And those stats do not include chemical abortions. They have thrown God and religion out of their society almost entirely!

Surely THIS is not the model you are honestly continually holding up for us in America to follow and learn from?!?!

Talk about approaching the issue too simplistically! Surely you agree we must find a MORAL solution to reduce abortions? I’m all ears if you have such a solution – let’s hear it! But please stop holding up ambiguous and misleading stats and partisan statements as your opposition to all of the good work that many are doing in the Pro-life movement. Meanwhile, you offer no actual answer – only pleas that we “Please understand why [others] have much more successful at reducing abortions than we have” and to “love more.”

Love is not an ambiguous feeling we just simply have. It’s an action. If you have some concrete ways to LOVE like Jesus taught us that will reduce abortion in our country, I’m confident the pro-life community is interested.

Kimi April 7, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Matt,

Thank you for asking some questions. Curiosity is the first step to more effective problem solving. I appreciate your effort to ask.

Your first question doesn’t make sense to me: “You infer that by also pursuing legal solutions to lessening abortion that somehow we are not loving these women?” So, I will address the second question for now.

“What else would you have our pro-life community do in addition to what they are already doing to better love these women and children suffering from abortion?”

That is a thoughtful question. I will list a few answers, though many more are sure to be found if you look.

1. Go out and ask questions. Review the literature. Seek and ye shall find. I have not kept up with all the literature, and no one person can have all the answers anyway. Constantly looking for more effective means is helpful.

2. Never end your quest to understand the factors that put people at-risk for unintended pregnancies and why Americans have more frequent sex and a far greater number of sexual partners than people in European countries. The dehumanizing attitude that Americans take toward sex is the at the root of our extraordinarily high abortion rates.

3. Try to learn from people instead of being quick to misinterpret and judge them. If you’d been kinder to me, you could have learned a lot already, even if only 5% of what I say turns out to be correct.

4. Understand programs that have been effective in raising the age of first sex: Head Start, etc.

Kimi April 7, 2009 at 10:38 pm

5. Understand how kids learn effective problem solving skills and learn cause and effect relationships. We know that when we give them the tools and make them responsible for their own choices, they are much less likely to want to get in trouble just to feel grown up.

6. Support programs that build self-esteem and foster a sense of community. We know that many girls get pregnant because they are desperate to be loved and boys make babies because they are desperate to prove that they are men. We can do better at strengthening both genders so that they don’t need to act in desperation.

7. Read about success: http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/effectiveprograms.aspx

You won’t like every approach, but if you really care about preventing the problem, you will find approaches that make sense to you.

8. “Not Yet: Programs to Delay First Sex Among Teens” is a simple PPT presentation that summarizes the factors that increase and decrease the likelihood of teen pregnancy. It also summarizes research on the effectiveness of different approaches to prevention. It is available for free here: http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pp_teen.aspx

9. We know that education and relationship skills lead to healthier choices. Possibilities are endless. Pick an approach that matters and help make it happen.

Kimi April 7, 2009 at 10:47 pm

10. Understand that humans need to own themselves. When you try to tell people what to do, you often inspire them to do the opposite. Respect people instead. Help them respect themselves and learn to think for themselves. The outcomes will be better than trying to think for them. Help people learn.

11. Don’t make enemies. Engage people in problem solving with you. You have seemed more interested in picking a fight with me than in exploring our common interest in reducing abortion. You limit your power and influence that way. Meanwhile babies die.

________

Those are just some general ideas. I can help you with specifics if you find an idea that appeals to you. Please keep exploring.

Kimi April 8, 2009 at 1:47 am

Perhaps some ideas from Pope John Paul II, posted at the Vatican website may be an inspiration for additional ways to nurture dignity, the antidote to desperate acts:

“Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.

3. I know of course that simply saying thank you is not enough. Unfortunately, we are heirs to a history which has conditioned us to a remarkable extent. In every time and place, this conditioning has been an obstacle to the progress of women. Women’s dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity. Certainly it is no easy task to assign the blame for this, considering the many kinds of cultural conditioning which down the centuries have shaped ways of thinking and acting. And if objective blame, especially in particular historical contexts, has belonged to not just a few members of the Church, for this I am truly sorry. May this regret be transformed, on the part of the whole Church, into a renewed commitment of fidelity to the Gospel vision. ”

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_29061995_women_en.html

Kimi April 8, 2009 at 1:56 am

Pope John Paul II continued:

“When it comes to setting women free from every kind of exploitation and domination, the Gospel contains an ever relevant message which goes back to the attitude of Jesus Christ himself. Transcending the established norms of his own culture, Jesus treated women with openness, respect, acceptance and tenderness. In this way he honoured the dignity which women have always possessed according to God’s plan and in his love. As we look to Christ at the end of this Second Millennium, it is natural to ask ourselves: how much of his message has been heard and acted upon?

Yes, it is time to examine the past with courage, to assign responsibility where it is due in a review of the long history of humanity. Women have contributed to that history as much as men and, more often than not, they did so in much more difficult conditions. I think particularly of those women who loved culture and art, and devoted their lives to them in spite of the fact that they were frequently at a disadvantage from the start, excluded from equal educational opportunities, underestimated, ignored and not given credit for their intellectual contributions.

…To this great, immense feminine “tradition” humanity owes a debt which can never be repaid. Yet how many women have been and continue to be valued more for their physical appearance than for their skill, their professionalism, their intellectual abilities, their deep sensitivity; in a word, the very dignity of their being!”

Matthew Warner April 8, 2009 at 9:40 am

Kimi – thanks for the ideas.

The pro-life community already supports virtually all such efforts. So I guess we’re in agreement there! So that’s great!

The reason such ideas aren’t debated much is because we can all agree on them. What we don’t agree on is that babies are humans too and should have their human rights recognized. Currently in this country, it is legal to murder these babies. Some of us think it’s a worthy cause to try and change that.

UPDATE: White house receives millions of red envelopes. It was a neat statement. And who knows how God will use it to effect those who received them. Good work to all who sent them in!

NOTE: All – please limit comments to the allotted character limit when possible instead of posting long responses across multiple comments in a row. I love the debate and conversation, but when it gets too long it kills the conversation because readers no longer bother or have time to read it and respond. It also helps us stay on topic too! Just try to keep it concise and to the point. God bless you all!

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