“The Cash Register, A Living Machine?”
It’s been about nine months since starting to work on the installation “The Cash Register, A living Machine?” At the beginning, the cash register came into my hands because it needed to be recycled. So the machine made a stop at our house on it’s way to it’s end.
While it was awaiting delivery to it’s final destination, life was happening, and life took me down the road to meet with some artist friends. This particular day, as I turned the corner, the cash register came to my mind along with the subject of abortion.
I thought about how the abortion industry profits from the death of these small babies, and how other groups or people may profit from the abortion industry. There were actually many complex thoughts that ran through me as I considered what little I knew at the time, along with memories of reports I had once heard. Sometimes we don’t know if what we heard is true, and sometimes we hope it is not and shut our eyes and go on with life…because it’s easier than finding out if it is true. If we found out it was true, we might feel that the problem is too big and ask ourselves, “What’s the point, how can I do anything at all about it?”
In the end of all my consideration, I decided to use the cash register as a symbol for the abortion industry, and create an art installation out of it.As I began pondering what this symbol would say about the abortion industry, a few things became clear and one of those was the price. No matter how one might want to get around it, the price is “life”. The life of one, for the profit of the industry, or maybe industries if there are more industries depending on the abortion industry. So “Leben”, which means “life” in German, would clearly be the price in the cash register.
Since the display price on the cash register was obvious, so too was the clarity that babies were the purchase price. This meant, sonograms and pictures of what “would be if…” would be placed on the top where the payment is held in order to give change.
Change? Wait, there is no change in this cash register. Why? Because when a life is paid into the abortion industry, there is no part of that life that is given in return. You can’t give a portion back to the customer, and the mother leaves emptier than when she came. No change belongs in the cash register.
The bills are another story because these represent profit to the industry in their whole form, but there are parts in them providing symbols or messages. For example, we find photographs of babies that would have been, had they not been aborted. Then there are line drawings of babies…the breath of what was. “But they didn’t breathe,” one might say. They could have, and that is enough for me. There are some who believe if a baby never breathes, they never lived. So, very finely, there is a text that says, “‘The life of all flesh is in the blood’, so let’s say it’s only in the breath. As long as they have not breathed, then we can say they have not lived.” This is also written in German right next to it all over the background of the bill. It looks like a paper texture to the untrained eye.
There is one other statement on the bill that is much easier to read. “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” This is a quote from what King David said after the son he had with Bathsheba died. His statement is just as true today with these babies as it was with his son. These little ones are in Heaven, and we can go to them, but they will not return to us.
In researching for this project, there were things I saw and read that really moved my heart. I had to research the different methods of abortion to label the buttons on the register. I didn’t know there were so many different methods. Until this project, I didn’t know what “reduction” really meant in relation to IVF: a deadly injection into a little ones heart. I did not know anything about “menstrual regulation”. I had never heard of it before. There were times, like right now as I am typing, that I would just get numb as emotions started to flood through me. I didn’t know, what I didn’t know, and it’s easier to be ignorant about painful issues. It’s easier to say, “That can’t be true,” than it is to find out if it is so.
In all of what I discovered, I found there is even more that I do not know. There are things written I can not confirm. I do not know for sure if parts of these little ones are used for research or medical transplants, or if a liver helps in a process to make food taste better, or if these little ones are used for stem cell research. What I do not know, kind of got filed away in my discovery process as, “not helpful”. Some helpful things did surface though.
Facts have been helpful to me. The number of abortions worldwide is easy to confirm, and that number is 42 million in one year right now. This is not an easy number to comprehend. I don’t have a million dollars, so how can I comprehend 42 million lives? Then I learned that 20% of these abortions happen in China. Wow! I live in Switzerland though, how many happen here? Let’s round the number down and we find 10,000 in Switzerland. Right next door to me is Germany, and their rounded number is 100,000 per year, and on the other side of them next to me is France. The rounded number in France is 200,000 abortions per year. But wait, I was raised in America, what is their number per year? 1,200,000 abortions per year happen in America.
So, I will give away my age by telling you that I was born one year before abortion was legalized in America. I don’t know when I knew that first, but the knowledge of it sparked the question in me, “I wonder what friends I would have now if they had not been aborted? They would only be a year younger. How would life be different for me?” I know that’s a bit self-centred of a question, but the relation to my year of birth is really what sparked the question.
I just met someone a bit younger than myself, and he told me he was adopted and grew up knowing that. He said he has always been thankful for his life. I thought that was an interesting statement, and I wondered why he said it. He continued without me even asking my question and said, “My mother could have aborted me, but she didn’t, and I have always been thankful.”
On my learning journey, I found out that in America, by the age of 45, one out of 3 women will have had an abortion. That pretty much tells me that I know people who have had an abortion. I probably am around them and talk to them regularly. Why does this matter to me? Because of what I’ve learned. I’ve learned that many ladies who abort, feel pressured into aborting and don’t really want to do it. Where I live, and where I grew up, there is a choice, and still ladies have abortions who don’t want to have them.
I was told of a wife who had an abortion because her husband “forced” her to. She had a legal right not to, yes, but she gave into the pressure. Teens may feel pressure from their piers or parents. One lady shared that she didn’t want to answer questions as to why she had a child, and it was easier to abort because then no one will ask about the child, because they don’t know. Some may feel pressure to abort because they believe they would have to drop out of school if they don’t. I don’t know all the reasons, but I did recognize this: some of these ladies look for help while they are trying to make up their mind.
When they look for help, sometimes they go to a web forum and ask a total stranger for advice. I assume, this is easier than asking someone they know. The saddest thing I observed was, when a young lady asked for help, and got criticized. Two groups fought between themselves, commenting in relation to the question posted, but no one answered the young lady in need. There was not only one case of this event I found.
If the statistics are right, there are various people we will know in our life that are considering an abortion. Why would that person who is considering the abortion not come to you for help, but rather go to a forum and ask strangers? I thought about this, and it might have something to do with the way we talk, or the “war” between two groups who didn’t help the young lady in the forum.
In my journey, I found a practical way to be a help. The statistics may be daunting, and the problems may seem so great and multiplied, but there is something you can do. What you can do is not world-changing, but it can be life-changing, because you can affect the lives of those you know. What is it? Watch out for the way you talk and believe about people who have had or plan to have an abortion.
Here is an example of what I mean. I talked to a man at the art show last week, and he said, “Abortion is murder.” In our discussion, I shared with him that, if we judge people, it will hinder them from coming to us for help. He did not feel as if he had judged anyone in his statement, and in a way he did not. To a lady in ear-shot of what he said, who is considering an abortion, she will feel judged or like she will be judged if she opens up to someone who speaks this way. She is looking for someone who will understand her. She is looking for someone who cares about her, maybe someone who can help, or direct her to some help. She doesn’t want to give up her dreams, or appear to be a failure. She might feel that if she has her child that she cannot succeed at accomplishing the goals she had. So, no matter where the pressure she feels is coming from, (herself, fear of others, family, or community), if she finds a way to accomplish her goals, not feel like a failure, and still have her baby, there is a chance she will choose to have her baby. To do this though, she needs find help, or see that she can make it.
Where is she going to find that help? In you and me hopefully, because we are the ones she knows and will turn to, because we believe and talk differently; because she recognizes compassion in us for people in her condition.
Compassion helps us put judgement aside, and consider the condition she finds herself in, and we find ourselves wanting to do something about it.
Oh, but the ability to not judge them for the situation they find themselves in is often either lacking or not exercised. It is so much easier to judge, because that means, “they deserve it,” whatever “it” is that they find themselves dealing with, or whatever situation they are in.
If we are all to get what we deserve in every situation, well, then we are ALL in trouble. Many people where I live consider themselves to be a Christian. So what did Jesus do? Jesus came to help, and not to judge. If you are absolutely sure I am wrong, look this up: John 3:16-18. Jesus knew that without Him we were all lost, whether we got ourselves in the situation or not, and He came to help us all. When a lady was brought to him who had just committed adultery, and the law at the time was to stone her, Jesus didn’t give her what she deserved according to the law. He helped her by not judging her, her life was saved, and He told her not to do it again.
Can we follow the example of Jesus and help without judging? I believe we can. It helps to have a personal relationship with Jesus, because He will help us live this way. Either way it is helpful to consider how we would want to be treated, if we were in their shoes. What would life be like if I were her? What kinds of decisions or pressures would I be considering if I were her now? This makes it easier to be a help. Then we can ask ourselves, if I were her and I wanted to keep the child, what would it take to make this possible? When you find that answer, you have a starting point. You know now how you can positively influence your world.
We see a number like 42,000,000 and think there is nothing we can do about it. In reality though, everything starts with one. If you help one, you influence a life, that life influences another life, and so on. So does our attitude influence the attitude of others. Your love, can influence others!
If you look at the power cable for my installation, you will see that an accident has happened to the machine. Something happened that cut the power cable, and now the cable is bleeding. Why? Because I asked myself what the power supply is to this machine, and if the machine is taking in these lives and growing, has it become a life itself? Has it become a living machine? If it has, then will it bleed if an accident happens? Then, if an accident does happen, what would the effect be?
To answer this question, “what would happen if an accident happens,” we now hear a baby or babies, sleep, eat, cry and laugh. These are expressions of life. Life happens when the machine loses power.
If one mother decides not to abort her baby, for that baby, the machine has lost its power. For a mother to make that decision though, she needs to know someone cares for her. Will you?
If you want to be part of the solution in your world, I have put together some packages with information from a few organizations here in Switzerland. It includes a short letter from me and a little chocolate as my thanks to you. The package should help you to have information to share if you discover you can help someone.
I chose to make 42 packages, each with a diaper in them. I bet you can guess: Each diaper represents one-million abortions in the world per year. I challenge you to take one.
You can find them at the art show in Basel, Switzerland now. More information can be found at www.provocate.net