CHOOSING LIFE

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SUSAN KIONGO-AUTHOR

There is an interesting true story of a soldier who carried his bible with him to battle but unfortunately he got killed. His bible was later found, and on the inside flap of the cover were these words: “Therefore, choose life – Deuteronomy 30:19”.  Interesting because, who would think that a soldier in battle would think of choosing life? He was in the battle to kill or be killed, yet he was wishing for life. It was interesting to remember this story at this time too, because currently we are witnessing divergent opinions on the very sensitive topic of whether or not to save the lives of unborn babies.

These times that we live in, the most liberal of all times, can be quite tricky. We are all free to express ourselves and live our lives the way we choose, and that is OK. It is true; every woman has a right to choose what to do with their body. These questions bother me: “When we have another body forming inside our own, who stands for that small body, to choose for them if they want to live or not?” Does that small body have a right, just like any of us? If we decide to end their life, are we choosing to do what is right for us or for them? Do we consider their feelings? Do their feelings even matter? Or do they even have feelings? Most of us know the familiar explanation that: “those are just cells”, but we know that every living thing is made up of living cells.

It takes boldness to accomplish courageous acts like choosing life amidst all the noise going on and all the different influences proposing or opposing the agenda of life. I see how blessed we all are, that someone gave us a chance at life, and that at that time when we were most vulnerable, we were not considered an “unwanted pregnancy”. What may seem like an impossible situation today might be a blessing in disguise. That unwanted or unplanned pregnancy (no matter how it happened), might be the answer that carries the blessing we are looking for. As they say in some circles, poverty is as fleeting as life. I know for a fact that the Intelligence that creates and gives us life has provided for each and every soul that will ever set foot on planet earth, from birth till death. We are born whole, fully equipped with the resources necessary for the journey of life.

I think of all the women who have no children, and will do anything in their power just to have one; all those women who suffer silently with the pain of miscarriage; all the women who can never conceive due to complications, some of which arose from operations gone wrong, and now they carry in them a life time sentence of pain, guilt and regret.  I think of all the cases of failed terminations, where the children lived, and some callous person told them how they survived death; of the women who died and their children survived and someone thought to do them the ‘favor’ of telling them why their mother died. I have friends who carried the guilt and shame of terminating innocent life, and the burden being so heavy, they finally confessed openly. I think of the parents who knew their child miraculously survived an attempt to terminate an innocent life; of all the parents who lost their children while ‘exercising their right to have control over their bodies’. I think of all the great men and women that could have been, but they were “unwanted”. Oh yes, we all do have rights, but at what cost should we exercise those rights? How far need we go, as all actions do have consequences? Just a few questions that do the rounds in my head.

As a mother of several girls, some topics make my stomach churn, and my heart want to jump out of its pocket, and I will not even mention the sleepless nights. This is a question that confronts most women at one time or another in their lives. There are all kinds of opinions on this topic (and everyone is rightfully entitled to theirs). A lady recently approached me in tears, asking my advice on what to tell her daughter who was intent on terminating a pregnancy, because, she said: “I know you are a mother of girls”. Some things don’t really matter that much until they hit close to home, so I told her what I would say if that were my daughter: “Choose Life”. Sometimes I feel obliged to write on a topic because along my journey of life, most of the good advice I got was from reading something useful written down somewhere. May be it is my turn now to write, for someone else to get help. Just may be.

In High School, my sister lost a friend who decided to terminate the innocent life she carried because she was too young to bring a new life into this world. She was the daughter of a single dad, and I still remember his agony. Even though we were never allowed to bring visitors (girls or boys) to our home, this girl had come home with my sister one holiday, and she had charmed her way through to Mama’s heart.  She was the most soft-spoken, kind and lovely girl, and she must have been genuine for Mama to have liked her. Her death was so devastating, that Mama, the otherwise no nonsense woman, called us girls (we were many), and very politely talked to us in a manner quite out of her character, not to ever think of ending an innocent life prematurely, if by chance anything unplanned happened and we found ourselves pregnant. “Please bring the child to me; it is better to bring up a child, than die trying to hide the fact”, she said. “This must be serious business”, I had thought to myself.  That sudden change of heart by Mama confused me. I just couldn’t believe that she would be willing to bring up any of our kids while we were still in school. This was completely contrary to her usual song of: “You bring a child home, you take care of it!” So it was really serious business, never mind that most of us at that point didn’t understand how babies came to being. But that was as far as the conversation with Mama went – just not to do something we would later on regret, no further details. However, that did not change the rules at home, and so we went on to finish school without any misadventures, by God’s grace.

Growing up, there was no internet, so what we didn’t learn from books, the grapevine, eavesdropping, or the occasional village matriarch, was learnt the hard way, through the school of life. I always had my ears well-tuned to what would help me out, and my antennae were up and very alert. I remember the preacher who said that women had a very sacred responsibility placed in their hands by God: That of bringing new life into this world. That was why, he said, it was important for women to carry themselves with dignity and protect the virtues entrusted to them. Before then, I had never considered that as a woman I had anything of value like that, or that God could have entrusted me with such a valued responsibility. No one had ever told me that. The preacher had also said: “One day, God will require of every woman, to know what they did with that sacred responsibility.

That statement changed my perspective, and I began looking at myself and life very differently. I decided from then on I would try and make my daughters understand this important fact; perhaps make a difference in their lives, and those of as many girls as would be willing to listen. We talked (my daughters and I), and we still do talk openly. No topic is taboo or strange for discussion in our circles. Maybe it would be good for mothers to let their daughters know that they have this sacred responsibility. From my observations, (and I will admit that I think I can be very analytical), quite a good number of women do not appear to be aware that they are entrusted with this sacred responsibility. Sometimes when people do not realize the importance of something, they do not care for or appreciate it.

As I have always told my daughters: “Follow your heart, but choose wisely; Choose Life”. But this, as in all other matters of life, is a matter of conscience. Let our intuition guide us. Intuition, as I say, is God talking to us.  When all is said and done, and all the noise has quietened down, the issue of what we did with that sacred responsibility placed in our hands will have to be settled between the individual, and the Giver of Life.

Finally, I end by saying this: The mind is a beautiful thing; once it captures an idea implanted in it, just like an embryo in the womb, it never stops evolving, and it is a hard thing to decapitate.

Let us continue taking care of one another as we take care of the universe, because we are all one.

It is still a beautiful world, let’s strive to be happy

SUSAN WAMBUI

SENIOR COLUMNIST

KENYAN PARENTS IN USA.

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