One evening during the mid-1970s, I was a young homemaker cleaning the kitchen in my mobile home as the television buzzed along airing Soylent Green (1973). The movie, set in 2022 in New York City, is a dystopia (a tale of futuristic nastiness). Charlton Heston plays Detective Thorn. Crime and unemployment are rampant. Apartments come with ‘furniture’ (a woman) if you think she goes with your decor. In this society, women serve no other function but providing pleasure for men. In the 1970s, women were protesting their objectified status as housewives and sexual subservients. And what is Soylent Green? The starving masses riot in the streets to get their share of it–a form of food.
That evening, the movie was background noise–a sense of company in the otherwise quiet trailer with my child sleeping and her father at work. Then Thorn began to yell. The volume came up on the background noise.
“It’s people! Soylent Green is made of people!”
The moment froze for me. Was that truly what the future held for humanity?
Since my late night encounter with cinematic dystopia, I’ve become somewhat of a connoisseur of the written form. My high school students have dived into their reading of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. Bradbury and Orwell never saw the women’s movement coming.
Within this genre, Huxley, writing in the 1930s, best depicts the role of women in a falsely egalitarian society. Sex is for fun as women work side by side with men. Forming families is outdated and even profane. Children are not born, only hatched in assembly line factories. They are commodities, specially designed to fulfill a predetermined function.
And now to our present time a mere six years before the setting of Soylent Green, 32 years after 1984, and 524 years before Brave New World. Perhaps Huxley was only off on his timing. For the women of the 1970s have achieved their goals. They are no longer the ‘furniture’ of a household. They are the equal partners. They go to work beside men and and engage in recreation with men.
Their children are not yet produced in hatcheries. But they are now commodities, bought and sold in a clandestine marketplace.
Perhaps the scandal of selling baby parts will finally produce the end to public funding of Planned Parenthood. (Let’s remember, it’s not just tax dollars. Many entities support PP with our business and charity dollars.) The air has been leaking out of PP’s public relations balloon over the last few years. There was the widely publicized departure of Abby Johnson, a former PP clinic director. Johnson became a life advocate and whistle blower about late term abortions and PP’s true quest–the bottom line.
It surprised us to learn that PP representatives were negotiating prices for the hearts and livers of the unborn. We should not have been surprised. If they can kill a baby for profit, why not extend the profit margin? They’ve convinced themselves of some distinction between the unborn and the rest of humanity. In so doing, they’ve made a statement about their own humanity. Failing to grasp the true nature of the unborn, they also fail to understand their own.
The Church’s response to the issue of life is the best example of effective Christian unity in the past century. From our different traditions, we proclaim the truth that human beings at any moment and in any state are sacred, eternal likenesses of God’s image. As we continue to speak this message, let’s remember that, a few years ago, we could have looked at Abby Johnson and written her off as an unredeemable baby killer.
PP is filled with Abby Johnsons. She has recovered her own sense of humanity. Theirs is still eluding them. Let’s not miss it too in neglecting our obligation to pray for their souls. And for the soul of our nation.
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