The number forty has great significance in the Bible.
Perhaps best known is the forty years that the Israelites were condemned to wander in the desert before being permitted entry into the Promised Land.
Maybe this mystical quantity will bear significance as we note, this month, the fortieth year since the Roe v Wade decision legalized abortion in America.
Forty years we have lived with the silent, and sometimes not so silent, holocaust in our midst as the lives of 55 million innocent and unborn children have been killed, plucked from their journey to enter this world.
Who were they? Who would they have become?
The unmarried graduate student who gave birth to hi-tech impresario and co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, may well have aborted this child had her pregnancy occurred in 1973 rather than 1955.
This past week former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, recovering victim of a crazed gunman, visited, along with her husband Mark Kelly, Newtown, Connecticut, site of the latest horrible shooting incident.
In their public remarks, they expressed concern that our society has become “desensitized to acts of violence.”
Appropriate words, I think, that certainly should be considered in the broadest possible sense in our effort to grasp our willingness to tolerate, even nurture, the open and flourishing presence of evil in our society.
It takes a deadening of the soul to permit this, a state of being “desensitized.”
We know it because when those senses are awakened, our indifference and willingness to tolerate evil is pushed back.
When William Wilberforce fought to abolish the slave trade in England, he moved a boatload of the elite into proximity of a slave ship to smell the stench. Their senses were awakened and a major step forward was achieved to end the horror.
Reformed slave trader John Newton composed “Amazing Grace,” with the unforgettable line “Was blind but now I see.”
If there is good news, it is that, slowly, America seems to be coming to its senses regarding destruction of unborn children.
This week’s Time Magazine cover story announces “40 years ago abortion-rights activists won an epic victory with Roe v Wade: They’ve been losing ever since.”
But in noting that ultrasound has reduced the willingness of Americans to tolerate abortion, author of the story Kate Pickert misses the key point when she writes, “Thanks to prenatal ultrasound, Americans now understand what a fetus look like and that babies born as early as 24 weeks can now survive.”