On Being the Prodigal

Our Lord doesn’t specify how long the prodigal son was away in His parable, but one must imagine it to be a fairly long time, given that he had the chance to spend all his money, enjoy the company of harlots, live lavishly, and so on. I bring it up because I think that parable applies aptly, not just to us as individual sinners, but to the civilization formerly known as Christendom in general.

Like the prodigal son, the last few generations have taken our inheritance (the wealth, grandeur, and security that our fathers labored to produce), told our ‘Father’ to go to Hell, and set about spending every cent we have on lavish living, fondly imagining the security and wealth piled up before we were born will last forever without our having to do anything about it. Thus, we declare anything inconvenient to our chosen lifestyle to be ‘outdated,’ imagining that the results will continue even after the cause is removed. We toss off the family, free enterprise, hard work, letters, tradition, and the most basic ideas of culture in favor of a ‘do what you want, welcome everyone’ attitude. We think nothing of tearing up the basic foundations of society, like marriage, the church, and the community, because we fondly imagine the stability they created will continue without them. We preach multiculturalism because we assume that the results of our cultural norms are permanent and will endure if the culture changes.

In short, we squander our inheritance.

The sin of the prodigal came in dishonoring his father by taking his inheritance for granted as a right rather than a responsibility. Whatever he had from his father, he threw away because he assumed he didn’t have to do anything to maintain it and it was simply his to do with as he liked. We moderns do the same with the rich inheritance of the west, assuming that the relative peace, security, and wealth that we enjoy is ours by right, rather than the hard-earned product of labor which is our responsibility to maintain.

I can picture the prodigal son at his lavish parties telling his new friends all about his father and brother; how his father was a senile old fool and his brother a stuck-up hypocrite, much as we treat our forefathers with contempt and ridicule even as we enjoy the fruits of their labor and despise our ‘brothers’ who actually try to live up to their responsibilities.

Now, as you know, this isn’t to say the ‘elder brother’ is model to follow: he has his own failures and temptations. Perhaps, in the end, it is better to be the prodigal, but only after the prodigal returns. At the moment, we’re still living it up, though there are signs that the great famine is coming, where we’ll long to eat the husks that are given to the pigs. Perhaps after that we’ll come to our senses and seek forgiveness, and maybe then we’ll be in a position to criticize the behavior of the elder brother.

At the moment, though, we’re not in much of a position to criticize anyone.

New Federalist Essay

My latest piece is up at The Federalist, using King Kong and Godzilla to describe the human condition. Because I do that sort of thing.


I say an anti-war message doesn’t suit Kong because, especially as depicted in this film, Kong is a warrior, and really doesn’t have the option to not fight. His presence is the only thing that allows the island’s natives to live in a cartoony utopia (that, for some reason, doesn’t include smiling) and possibly prevents the rest of the world from being threatened. Godzilla was in much the same position in the previous film, as the only thing standing between humanity and destruction by the electricity-draining MUTOs.

In either case, the image is of a world that is only allowed to continue in whatever state of peace or safety it has because there’s a ferocious warrior standing guard, ready to push back the things that threaten to destroy it. “Godzilla” made this link explicit by casting soldiers as its human leads (in fact, “Godzilla “was the closest thing to a pro-war, or at least pro-warrior, movie I’ve seen in a long time), while “Kong” has its chief human warrior character as an Ahab-like antagonist.

The good news is that “Kong” has more than enough sheer creativity and enthusiasm for the material that makes it worth sitting through tired anti-Vietnam agitprop. Also, the medium undermines the would-be message. The very nature of a kaiju film like this forbids any kind of triumphant humanism. In a world where monsters the size of buildings stand guard against creatures that can shut down a city with a single move, there really is no room to hope that mankind has the wherewithal to end the perennial ills of the human condition.



Phineas, Ferb, and Feminism

It’s a fairly familiar scenario: there’s a major female character in a predominantly male cast. She feels constantly overshadowed by the male characters, who by contrast seem to have all the advantages that she lacks; they can get away with anything, do anything they like, and receive almost universal praise, while she has to struggle and fight to achieve her goals, which seem always cruelly beyond her reach. Feeling frustrated and ignored, she sets out to prove that she is every bit as good as the men around her.

As I say, a pretty standard set up…except that, in this case, the girl is the antagonist and her attempts to one-up the male characters are presented as wrong-headed and ridiculous.

I hope everyone’s familiar with the show Phineas and Ferb, which aired on Disney from 2007 to 2015. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like much: weird-looking kids perform wacky stunts in their backyard while their bratty older sister tries to tattle on them to their parents and their secret-agent pet platypus battles an evil scientist. It seems at once too weird, too generic and thoroughly childish, especially when you learn that practically every episode features a musical number.

But first impressions can be deceiving. In truth, it’s a smart, hilarious, and heartwarming piece of work, bursting with creativity and endless goodwill. I’ve been wanting to write about it for a while, since there’s actually a lot of meat under the cheery surface, but today I want to focus on what I see as the hilariously countercultural message of Candace’s character arc.

candace3_8397The Face of Modern Feminism

Candace is Phineas and Ferb’s teenage sister, whose role in the story is to endlessly attempt to reveal the boys’ activities to their mother, only to inevitably fail at the last second (their mother is basically the only person in town who doesn’t know what they’ve been up to and dismisses Candace’s stories as resulting from an over-active imagination). This is one of many running gags that are endlessly played with throughout the series.

Her reason for continually trying to get her brothers in trouble is, more or less, because she’s jealous. Not so much of what they do, which she is at pains to dismiss as being childish and stupid, but of the fact that they get so much attention for it, while somehow never getting into trouble for breaking the rules (“Hi, Mom! I’m digging up the Northwest United States! You okay with that?!”). In other words, her envy stems, not from the fact that Phineas and Ferb can build a rollercoaster in the backyard over the course of a morning and she can’t, but just from the fact that they’re successful: that they’re more popular and admired than she is, that they excel at whatever they try while she doesn’t, and, most of all, that they never get caught. To that end, she will endure anything if only she can one-up her brothers just once and prove that they’re not as cool as everything thinks.

In all this, she’s missed the simple fact that…it’s not a competition. Though she’s continually trying (and failing) to outshine them, Phineas and Ferb aren’t trying to outshine her, or anyone else; they’re just doing what interests them. “We don’t do this to compete,” Phineas tells Candace in one episode. “We do it for fun!” (“And for the ladies,” Ferb adds). That’s the point: there is no conflict except in Candace’s mind.

Far from seeking to overshadow their sister, Phineas and Ferb actually admire Candace and want her to participate. They’re always inviting her along on their escapades and providing her with the means to join them (“We built [that rocket ship] for Candace; I don’t know why she took ours”). But Candace would rather show up the boys and spoil their fun than actually partake of it herself. As far as she’s concerned, the mere fact that Phineas and Ferb are involved immediately taints the activity for her.

Candace is focused on the personal aspect; she really, really wants to be able to one-up her brothers by ‘busting’ them to their mother, just to show that they aren’t as great as everyone thinks and (in her mind) make herself look better by comparison. Phineas and Ferb, on the other hand, are focused on the actual activity itself. The important thing to them isn’t who does it, or who’s better at it, or any of that nonsense; the important thing is simply that it gets done.

This dynamic is showcased in an early episode centering on their mom’s birthday. Candace once again sees it as an opportunity to outshine her brothers, refusing to help them with their preparations, growling about who has ‘won’ each part of the day, and even going so far to sign her card, “The child who loves you best.” Meanwhile, Phineas and Ferb culminate their multimedia birthday celebration by playing the song Candace wrote and inviting her up on stage to sing it live. Again, they don’t care who does what, just so long as their mother has a nice birthday.

Now, Candace goes through a lot over the course of four seasons, yet the show makes it abundantly clear that, to put it bluntly, it’s pretty much all her own fault. If she’d only let go of her petty jealousy and loosened up a little, she would be much happier, more relaxed, and be spared the numerous mishaps that she’s subjected to. In fact, on the odd occasion where she’s either cooperating with the boys or going on her own adventure, she tends to be very successful and to have a good time to boot. But, rather than learning to lighten up a little, she persists in her Sisyphean quest to ‘bust’ her brothers and so keeps bringing disaster down upon her own head.

This all should sound pretty familiar: it’s the attitude most self-styled feminists adopt. It’s the notion that men and women are in opposition, that men are the oppressors of women and that women must do whatever they can to escape the shadow of ‘the patriarchy.’ When, actually, most men (at least in the West) rather like women and want them to succeed at whatever they’re interested in.

For one particularly silly example, we hear a lot from feminists how we need to get more girls interested in STEM fields. They decry the ‘gender imbalance’ in such things, and in pretty much everything else where there’s difference between men and women (unless, of course, the women have the better share). Like Candace trying to outshine her brothers, though, this misses the whole point; it focuses on who is doing it rather than on what they’re doing.

If a girl wants to go into science, technology, or what have you because she’s interested in the subject, that’s awesome, and she should definitely be encouraged to do so, but because it’s a worthwhile endeavor in itself; not because her doing so will add a checkmark to someone’s imaginary ledger. If she’s going into the field to close the ‘gender gap,’ then frankly she’d be much better off doing something else: something she’s interested in for its own sake. No occupation or field of study is helped by anyone (male or female) who gets involved with an eye towards correcting social ratios, only by those who care about the subject itself (i.e. I’m sure Amelia Earhart would have wanted to fly even if every other aviator on Earth at the time were a woman).

You see, when someone sets out to do anything with an eye towards the societal aspect, her attention has, for that very reason, been taken off the thing itself and placed on an abstract social image. Most people (men and women) in whatever field she’s involved in will find this annoying, because their focus is on the work itself while she’s preoccupied with what the work means for her and her idea of society. This is what will make her unwelcome: the fact that no group of people likes it when someone who isn’t really interested in their subject imposes herself on them, even less if she’s doing it to make some kind of point.

More to the point, if you’re trying to go into space, would it make any difference to you who designed your rocket, as long as it worked properly? When Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon, was anyone thinking about how many women versus how many men made that possible? Would that achievement have been any more outstanding if there had been an equal proportion of men and women at NASA?

As all this indicates, I think a lot of modern feminism is a big fuss over nothing: people who get furiously competitive over a conflict as imaginary as Candace’s rivalry with her brothers. Because, let me say it again, the ‘gender gap’ doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter who is doing the job, as long as the job is done well, and it doesn’t matter how many women or men are in any given field, as long as those who are genuinely care about their subject and know what they’re doing.

Candace is, in fact, living out a broad and, today, very popular worldview: that it is the identity of the person doing the act that matters; not the act itself. To her, the fact that her brothers are doing these things are what is important: her brothers who constantly overshadow her, who can get away with anything, and who are just so annoying. The fact that what they’re doing is amazing, fun, and often beneficial to others is secondary.

By contrast, Phineas and Ferb are focused on the act itself. They are close to the position described in The Screwtape Letters: of being able to design the best roller coaster in the world, know it is the best, and rejoice in that fact, and yet be just as happy if someone else were to design it instead. If Candace went out and built her own supersonic jet or a skyscraper to the Moon, Phineas and Ferb would just think that was awesome. Any reservations they would have would be based on the fact that they would have liked to have done that cool thing themselves, but the idea that they would object because their big sister is trying to overshadow them, or because she’s a girl, would simply sound weird to them.

Most people today (at least in the west) see nothing at all strange in the idea of women doing great things. We’ve been taught feminism all our lives and raised on a steady diet of tales of female empowerment. But, for that same reason, we find demands for perfect parity between men and women in all things to be childish and silly. Nothing seriously excludes a woman from pursuing pretty much any job she wants: why not just let her do what she wants and stop stressing over who does what? It’s not a competition, after all.

Candace’s urge to ‘bust’ her brothers is ridiculous because one, it’s obvious the effort she puts into it is ludicrously out of proportion to any kind of payoff she could receive, and two, because her rivalry with the boys only exists in her own mind. It’s funny, because she’s driving herself past the point of human endurance in pursuit of a purely symbolic victory that no one but herself cares about, much like current-wave feminists spend millions of dollars and countless hours of time advocating for things that either they already have (i.e. equal pay) or which simply don’t matter (i.e. the ratio of men and women in any given field). Candace herself, in her better moments, understands that her whole crusade really isn’t worth it. I only hope modern feminists might come to the same realization. I think they’d be much happier.

Choose the Means, not the Ends

Here’s a typically insightful article on the Affordable Care Act (so-called) by Joseph Moore, the proprietor of Yard Sale of the Mind. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but the opening paragraphs are, I think, the most interesting:

As is characteristic of virtually all political decisions, in health care policy, we cannot choose ends. We can only choose means. We are not choosing and cannot choose between Wonderful Affordable Health Care for All (WAHCA) (1) and Misery For All But The Rich. All we can do is chose to support or oppose a particular next step, in this case, continuation or repeal/fundamental modification of the Affordable Care Act.

The ACA is not, in itself, WAHCA. Do not go on until you, dear reader, grasp this. Voting for the ACA was not voting for WAHCA. Passing the ACA did not achieve WAHCA. WAHCA is an *end*. The ACA is a *means*. We all may *hope* that  the ACA results  in better, cheaper health care – but that depends entirely on those pesky details of *how it works in practice*. You know, those details we had to pass the bill to see.

I think this one distinction would, if understood, eliminate a goodly part of the confusion and hostility that currently grips so much of the American electorate: We don’t choose ends, we choose means. We may agree on the end without agreeing on the means.

This, by the way, is one of the reasons that the ends do not justify the means: the means are real and immediate, while the ends are only speculative. Over the last century some hundred million people were murdered in order to bring about a utopia that never came. The people were real; the imagined utopia of Karl Marx was never more than a dream (and not a particularly likely one at that). To sacrifice freedom for some imagined end of prosperity or safety or (worst of all) equality is a fool’s bargain: the thing you sacrifice is real; the end is only speculative. Indeed, often your only guarantee that the end you are bargaining for is the one intended is the word of someone you have no reason to trust.

Anyway, read the whole thing for a sober breakdown of how and why the ACA isn’t WAHCA, probably will never lead to WAHCA, and may not even have been intended to lead to WAHCA.

Castro, Ohio, and the Two Americas

Recently there have been two headlines, which, I think, help illustrate the difference between the two Americas.

The first was the death of Fidel Castro, the inexplicably long-lived Cuban dictator whose rule transformed Cuba from the jewel of the Caribbean into a squalid outpost of the Soviet Union. Castro’s death at the age of 90 caused an outpouring of sympathy and support from some world leaders, who said things such as:

“At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”

-U.S. President Barack Obama


“While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante.’”

-Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau


““I express my sentiments of sorrow to Your Excellency and other family members of the deceased dignitary, as well as to the people of this beloved nation. At the same time, I offer prayers to the Lord for his rest and I entrust the whole Cuban people to the maternal intercession of our Lady of the Charity of El Cobre, patroness of that country.”

-Pope Francis

Contrast these statements with those of, say, U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump:

“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.

“While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.”

Or Sen. Marco Rubio’s response (himself of Cuban descent) to Pres. Obama’s statement:

“What I called ‘pathetic’ is not mentioning whatsoever in that statement the reality that there are thousands upon thousands of people who suffered brutally under the Castro regime.

“He executed people; he jailed people for 20 to 30 years. The Florida Straits – there are thousands of people who lost their lives fleeing his dictatorship, and not to acknowledge any of that in the statement, I felt was pathetic, absolutely.”

You see the difference? One side either says nothing of substance or openly praises the man whose rule drove twenty-percent of his nation to risk death to escape it. The other side bluntly states the fact that he was a murdering thug who turned his country into a slave camp. You might call this the respect due to the dead, except that the same people who refuse to condemn Castro now didn’t condemn him in life either. It’s as if his crimes simply don’t matter, because he was the right kind of dictator. He said the right things, held the right positions, and did what the right people think should be done. He gave ‘free’ medical care: it doesn’t matter what kind of care, it was free, so he’s progressive and, hence, good. He’s on the ‘correct’ side, so we just don’t have to mention the thousands of people he murdered, imprisoned, and drove into exile. We can pretend that his rule, somehow, was a good thing for Cuba, because it would be very convenient for the right people if it were.

Now another headline: the knife attack at Ohio State University, in which a Somali man drove his car into a group of his fellow students and proceeded to attack them with a butcher knife until he was shot by a police officer. For days after the attack, the media insisted that his motive for doing so was ‘unknown.’ Now, I could understand caution, and I would applaud it if it were also applied in any other context, but the fact of the matter is that while most of the media has no problem crying ‘racism’ whenever a police officer shoots a black man (regardless of either the circumstances or the race of the offending officer), they have a very hard time crying ‘terrorism’ even when it is very clear that that’s what has happened.

From the very beginning, the Ohio attack looked exactly like what it turned out to be: another one of literally hundreds of Islamic terror attacks that have taken place this year throughout the world. The man apparently preceded his attack with anti-American rants on Facebook, and the MO fits with similar attacks around the world: general, brutal, and using anything and everything to hand (compare the men who drove a truck through the crowds in Nice earlier this year, or the Orlando nightclub shooting: the goal in each case seems to simply be to hurt and kill as many people as possible). Despite the media’s insistence that they ‘had yet to determine a motive,’ the motive, to most people, seemed obvious within the first few hours after the attack: the same motive we’ve seen time and time again for the past few years, in places like Paris or London or Brussels.

But you see, if Islamic terrorism is an actual, immediate threat, that would be damaging to the principle of open borders, multiculturalism, and (above all) ‘diversity.’ So it is expedient that we downplay Islam as a factor; we don’t know the motive. Now that we know it, we can just say he’s just a ‘lone wolf’ and not really a terrorist (how the idea that anyone might become radicalized and start hacking up his classmates with a butcher knife is more comforting than the idea of organized terrorism I’ll leave you to decide). If people got to thinking that maybe a significant number of Muslims actually hate the West and want to destroy it, not through propaganda, but through violence, then it might be that the people who elected Donald Trump or voted for Brexit have a point and we should be a lot more cautious who we let into the country. It might even mean that there’s something wrong with the very idea of ‘diversity,’ which is unthinkable.

I’ve said before that political correctness means the idea that being a good person requires you to ignore any reality that is inconvenient to a person of the correct type. So, you must ignore Castro’s crimes because he was a leftist dictator who was a thorn in America’s side for about three-quarters of a century. You must ignore or excuse the crimes of Muslim terrorists and make no provisos to defend against them or even acknowledge their existence because Muslims are ‘the other’ (that is: they are not of the hated West) and so deserve the courtesy of lying, or at least equivocating for their sakes (“well, we don’t really know the motive, and anyway he’s not really a terrorist”).

But the other half of the country, the other America, is sick of these lies and equivocations. They’re sick of people who constantly run them down and insult them while making excuses for murderers and tyrants. They’re sick of being told to bury their heads in the sand lest they offend the people who are seeking to destroy their civilization.

That’s a major reason why Donald Trump won: because, while he may be a liar, he doesn’t tell that kind of lie. He doesn’t lie because he thinks lying in the right way about the right people makes him a good person. That doesn’t mean he’s trustworthy, but it does mean he isn’t a member of the cult-like ideology that controls so much of our country and which has wrought such disaster in the last few decades. He may lie, but he won’t try to tell us that our enemies are really our victims, and that makes him far safer than either Obama or Hilary.

The two Americas can be described as the one that loves America and the great western heritage it is heir to and the one that hates them both like poison. To the latter, any enemy of the west is a friend of theirs (because they don’t realize that their ideas could only exist in a civilization like the west): whether a communist dictator or a Muslim terrorist. Their crimes are less important than the fact that they are ‘the other’ and hence, by nature, good.

The first America, the one that loves her, is the one that elected Donald Trump and which will, God willing, eventually triumph. Trump’s a repulsive person and hardly a desirable leader, but the important thing is that his election marks a serious upset to the ideology of well-meaning lies that has so dominated the west. The contrast of Trump’s and Obama’s reactions to Castro’s death is revealing: one won’t say anything against one of the most brutal dictators of the western hemisphere, the other bluntly calls the man for what he was. People are seeing truth and lies side by side and can judge for themselves which they prefer.

On the Root Cause of Abortion

You know, I don’t usually talk about abortion. Not that I don’t think it’s a vital issue, but, well, it isn’t ‘my’ issue. That is, there are so many other voices speaking more forcefully on it that it seems to me that my rhetorical talents (such as they are) are better applied in other topics that seem to me under represented.

But I’m going to say something about abortion today. I’m not going to argue about how and why it’s wrong because, again, other people have done that better and, really, what does it say about the world we live in that “killing babies is wrong” is a major point of contention?

Rather, I’m going to talk about what certain people in the ‘pro-life’ movement call the “root causes.” But, the root causes aren’t what we’re told they are. They aren’t poverty and they aren’t welfare, and they certainly have nothing to do with capital punishment or any of that ‘culture of death’ stuff.

If you want to destroy the root causes of abortion, you have to destroy the sexual revolution, because there is no other. Our insane ideas about sex are at the root of abortion. Oh, yes; poverty can and does pressure individual women into seeking abortion out of fear or desperation. That has always been so. But we’re not talking about individuals; we’re talking about society, and obviously the establishment of infanticide as a sacred social institution which a large part of the country will fight tooth and nail to preserve and expand has nothing to do with poverty. Political parties, rich celebrities, and intellectual elites do not march in the streets to cheering crowds in order to defend an impoverished mother’s act of desperation Abortion as we know it is not the result of poverty; it is the logical outcome of our ideas of sex.

We have established a culture – a civilization, really – in which one of the key unalienable rights of mankind (indeed, perhaps the most important) is the right to use sexuality as one sees fit. That is, if you want to have children, you can, but if you don’t want to have children, there is no reason you should just because you want to enjoy the reproductive act. What it means and what it does is entirely up to you; it can be simple recreation, a part of a committed relationship, an expression of love between individuals of the same sex, or what have you. You decide what sex means to you; this is held to be the sacred and inviolable right of ‘sexual expression.’

Problem is, all this is completely insane.

When the First Amendment gave the right to free speech, all it had to do was restrain the authority of the government; if a man wants to say something unpopular, then all that is required is that no one stop him. The Bill of Rights declares that the government, at least, will not do so. That is pretty much the definition of a ‘right:’ something that you have the power to do, but may be prevented from doing by law. To have the right to bear arms, for instance, means that, if you choose to buy a gun, the law will not stop you; there being such things as guns, which are often sold and which a man of ordinary capabilities can possess and carry.

But our ‘right’ to sexual expression is not like that. Here we’re declaring that a biological system ought to be whatever the individual declares it to be. We’re trying to impose human law on nature, to force her by fiat to obey our wishes. It’s rather like if we made hurricanes illegal and then, like Xerxes, attempted to chastise the sea when they came anyway, or if we granted people the ‘right’ to fly and then sued the Empire State Building when they failed to fly off the observation deck.

Because no matter what the law says, sex does not change to suit our wishes. It’s a part of nature, and nature’s law trumps ours. So, you can say “Oh, it’s just a little fun between grown-ups and I’m not trying to have a child,” but, guess what? You just made another human life, because that’s what sex does and has done for about half-a-billion years, and your personal desires don’t change that.

At that point our two choices are either to recognize that sex is what it is no matter what we say (requiring us to tear down the whole structure of the sexual revolution and impose social and legal norms to recognize this fact), or we can work out some kind of loophole that allows us to keep up the pretense of a right to sexual expression. Since this right is very convenient for a lot of people, individuals usually and society always goes with the latter. Hence, abortion, contraception, and the rest of that sordid architecture.

A right to sexual expression can only exist it is if there is a way to get rid of children once conceived. If we can pretend that unborn life ‘doesn’t count,’ then we can continue to prop up the flimsy premise we’ve built our current culture upon.

As long as society as a whole accepts the premise of that ‘right,’ abortion will remain legal (and there are also a lot of other Very Bad consequences, but that’s too much to get into right now). The only way that we can destroy abortion as an institution is by destroying the sexual revolution and all its attendant ideas. That is what the pro-life movement should be directed towards.