Together: Creating a Holistic Culture of Life

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Editor’s Note: In this week’s post, guest editor Roberta (Bobbi) Kayser addresses the difficult-to-discuss issue of life and how to respect and nurture it for all. Bobbi is a friend from Greenbelt whom I met through a weekly meditation group here. When we are divided, we need to listen to diverse voices and the Big Spirit for guidance out of our dilemma. Bobbi offers a thoughtful perspective on a difficult issue. 

Human life is a precious gift, beautiful and sacred.  The very air sings the vibrancy of humanity– the cooing of a baby, the laughter of children, shared conversations, different cultures, and the worth of each person. Supporting the value and sanctity of life is paramount to the moral and spiritual health of a nation.  But what constitutes life?  Whom do we value and whom do we discard?  Currently, in our culture, there are two divergent ideas of the sanctity, and the importance of life.  We are living a spectrum, where on one end is the life of a woman, her needs and her right to choose whether or not she can support a pregnancy, and on the other end is the right of an unborn child to live.

It seems that on either end of the spectrum, the issue of life has been distilled into a single paramount focal point.  Both ends seem to ignore the many other issues that affect both the life of the mother and the unborn child.  The concept of a spectrum of life seems too simplistic, with the solutions at either end being equally simplistic – i.e., enacting laws prohibiting abortion vs. allowing women to terminate the pregnancy.   But there are no simple answers to such a complex problem.  This simplistic approach not only fails to address the issues spanning the center of the spectrum but also can deny the humanity of the people on either end.  

I often hear people say that abortion is only one issue and that there are other issues of equal importance that need to be addressed.  This distraction allows the issue of abortion to be ignored.  I also hear that abortion is the most important issue and is the only one that needs to be given weight, thereby allowing other important life issues to be minimized.  Both ends of the spectrum have truth. 

The life of the mother is as precious as the life of the unborn child.  Indifference to, or denial of life at either end of the spectrum, by abortion or by withholding assistance to basic life needs are equally egregious.   To value all life, the spectrum needs to be changed into a wheel.  A wheel would more appropriately represent all aspects of flourishing life. The right to life of an embryo, growing into a fetus, growing into a newborn child is the wheel’s hub.  The other issues are the spokes which support that life in the womb and ultimately after its birth.  

Just as a wheel cannot function properly without both the hub and the spokes, so human life cannot flourish without both parts of the wheel of life. We must respect and care for both life in the womb (the hub), and women and families dealing with everyday life issues (the spokes).  A holistic culture of life must encompass all of its different facets; if not, then collectively and individually, people are not truly valued.  The complex issues encompassing the spokes require difficult decisions by women and families. 

Many of the spokes require systemic changes.  Injustices, many centuries and millennia old, must be addressed.  We must work together if we will provide a decent and just life for everyone.  Both ends of the spectrum, i.e. the spokes and the hub, must embrace truths of each other, while confronting conceptions that may not support all the various aspects of life. 

If we are not respecting and embracing the lives of the people in front of us, how can we really support and embrace the child in the womb, whom we cannot see?  Similarly, if we do not respect the helpless life growing in the womb, how do we love and respect the people we see in front of us?

In his homily at the Washington, DC March for Life in 2022, Cardinal Sean O’Malley said that when Roe v. Wade is overturned, as has happened, we will still have the same problems we have now that lead to abortion – misogyny, racism, unequal pay for equal work (women and minorities), affordable health care, affordable child care, to name a few.  These issues have never been adequately addressed.

I believe that imposing harsh laws against abortion or codifying Roe v. Wade will cause further polarization; instead, I believe we should work to make Roe v. Wade obsolete and unnecessary.  We should support women and families in all the issues which comprise the spokes in the wheel of life.  I believe abortion is morally wrong and cannot support it as a viable alternative, except in extreme cases. However, I also believe that we need to allow the decision regarding life in the womb to rest between each woman and her God. 

Our task is to support the spokes and work toward creating a culture of life that supports and values every woman, man and child, born and unborn, regardless of race, economic status, or any other barriers that divide us.


  1. Julia Burns

    “between each woman and her God.” Perhaps we should leave each woman’s beliefs to her as well?

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Julia for clarifying/broadening the lens and spectrum. Be well, Tom

  2. bill kraus

    Thanks, Bobbi, for your reflection on a holistic respect for all life, Cardinal Bernardin with his “seamless garment” is smiling upon us. I like your changing the image to a circle with a hub and spokes, that opens up and enriches the discussion. I would add for our reflection the need, from the perspective of marriage, to include the father of the unborn child. Decisions about abortion are therefore not just between a woman and her God but must also include, where possible, the father.

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Bill for your perspective on this important and hard to talk about topic. Blessings to you, Bobbi and others for engaging and looking for new ground.