Wormtongue’s Whispers, Herod’s Handmaids and the March for Life

This is a guest blog from Author Mary Walsh.
Originally posted at www.be-notafraid.com


Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien was a literary genius and a lover of language who understood its power and significance in the lives of men. For better or worse, words always precede other things. Tolkien’s character of Grima Wormtongue has a name which fits him like a glove. Wormtongue has King Theoden’s ear, but the conniving advisor is working for the enemy. Wormtongue uses his position of power and influence to the detriment of his king and his kingdom. When confronted by Gandalf about his behavior, Gandalf wastes little time and minces fewer words in his rebuke of Grima Wormtongue:

The wise speak only of what they know, Gríma son of Gálmód. A witless worm have you become. Therefore be silent, and keep your forked tongue behind your teeth. I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a serving-man till the lightning falls.

In the days since the March for Life, I keep thinking about the significance of Wormtongue and his relevance to recent days.

On the eve of the March for Life, we were working on our signs for the March for Life on the kitchen table. I am convinced that most great things in life happen around the kitchen table. Around the kitchen table, families discuss the great issues of the day. Never let it be said that we did not stand up for those who had no voice. Now, it is true that there are many pre-printed signs available at the March, but I have a deep and undying love for making my own. There is something uniquely important and fundamentally necessary about making your own protest signs as an American. As toxic as the culture we live in seems to be, we are still blessed as American citizens to have the right to redress our grievances to our government. It is important that our children learn this vital civics lesson: that the rights guaranteed to us by our Constitution are real. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As the markers continued to squeak across the board, I mentioned that this would be the 46th March for Life. My daughter’s marker slowed as she filled in the hands on her sign, and looked at me with quizzical eyes. “What do you mean the 46th March for Life?” Clearly, there was something about the number 46 which was really bothering her. We sat there at the kitchen table as her mind processed what that meant. “Are you saying that in 46 years they haven’t figured out how to stop abortion?” The innocence of a young girl’s clarity of thought is beautiful, powerful and terrifying all at once. “All those people that we elect and send to Washington haven’t been able to stop this?” The confluence of anger, frustration and despair rose in her eyes at the thought that those entrusted with the basic safety of their citizens have been abysmal failures.  I knew what the next question would be. “Then why are we going? What’s the point if no one is going to listen?” And there they were, just like that, the whispers of Wormtongue on the eve of the March for Life.

My heart hurt with that familiar despairing sort of pain I could read in her face. This is the kind of pain that tempts you to stay home and not to bother going. It’s the irritating and nagging thoughts and second guessing that all your efforts have been in vain. The cost is too high, your time is lost and no one is listening anyway. Why do we fight? Why do we bother? Why do we go? When the true darkness of what we are up against in this battle for life threatens to overtake us, we need to remember the words of St. Mother Teresa: “We are not called to be successful. We are called to be faithful.” In other words, the final battle is not ours to win. It never was. It has already been won by Christ. Our battle is to give witness to the truth so that others will come to realize that life is God’s beautiful gift to us. So we will go in the sun, or the rain or the snow. We will give witness to what we believe. The final battle has already been won; our faith tells us that. We will not be silent. We will not yield to the whispers of Wormtongue in the shadows.

The morning of the March dawned cold and gray with a promise of 52 degrees and sunny. However, as with many Marches, it was long on cold and short on sunny. We joined our fellow marchers for mass at our parish before embarking on the buses because the battle against the culture of death is not merely a temporal one. Arriving at the March to join 500,000 of our closest friends is one of the most remarkable and uplifting experiences you can have on planet Earth. Joyful people gathered to celebrate the God’s great gift of life from all ages, colors and abilities. The kids from Louisiana all had their snow boots, while kids from Virginia forgot theirs. College and high school kids abounded with unmatched enthusiasm. Mount St. Mary’s had an awesome band on the drums while marching up Constitution Avenue toward the Supreme Court.

Our family has been attending the March for four generations. In that time, the crowds have steadily increased every year. It is a reason for hope. Kids chanted brightly and boldly, “We love babies, yes we do. We love babies how about you?” They shared snacks, smiles, jokes and a few snowballs. College kids buoyantly raised their signs, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go.” Finally, after a long hiatus of support from the White House prior to 2016, Vice-President and Mrs. Pence addressed the crowd followed by President Trump on the jumbotron. The Marchers will be there whether or not it snows, or whether or not the president addresses the March, but there is no denying that it is absolutely significant and heartening that the current White House administration cares enough about right to life to show up and be counted.

Why do we attend the March? I remember a speech by the ever eloquent Congressman from Illinois, Henry Hyde, who said at the end of his life, he hoped that when he arrived at the heavenly gates that his work for the unborn would not go unnoticed, and that those unborn babies would recognize him when he arrived at doorstep of heaven.

We cannot and will not be silent. Three ensnaring traps lay in silence: despair, ambivalence and acceptance. Despair is a pit; don’t fall into it. The Lord said, “I will not leave you orphans.” You can take that to the bank. Despair gains nothing and costs everything. Re-evaluate the picture and recognize that you won’t win this battle by yourself, but that doesn’t mean that your own contribution to the pro-life cause is meaningless. Pray and Act. Prayer is absolutely necessary to this battle. Help those mothers in need. Encourage mothers and fathers in their parenthood. Vote pro-life. Question those candidates who claim to be pro-life. It doesn’t help the cause to elect a politician who is personally opposed to abortion but who steadily votes for it once ensconced in office.

The end result of having a “personally opposed” politician in office is aptly described in A Man for All Seasons in the words of St. Thomas More to Cardinal Wolsey: “Well, I believe when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties…they lead their country on a short route to chaos.” Elections have consequences at every level of government. Pro-life legislators need your help to get elected. Talk with your neighbors, families and friends and keep those lines of communication open. Ambivalence is always deadly because it inevitably turns to inaction. Acceptance of the status quo is a nonstarter. Roe v. Wade is not settled law. No amount of laws will ever justify the travesty of injustice wrought by the killing of innocent children.

If the truth sets men free; silence keeps men captive to a lie. As we approached the top of the hill near the Supreme Court during the March, there were a number of brave women standing with signs such as “Conceived in Rape” and “Punish the rapist not the child.” In the eyes of several of these brave women were tears. This heroism should not go unnoticed. The tears bear witness to the cost of their suffering. These are tears rarely seen in public and even more rarely talked about in print, but their suffering is real and because of it more people will know the truth that abortion only hurts everyone involved.

My teenage daughter was right. Forty-six years is forty-six years too many, but with the help of God’s grace, our perseverance will endure. Wormtongue’s whispers will continue to lurk  in the shadows while his minions work exhaustively, much as they did in the days of King Herod. If you have any doubt about this, just watch these video clips below of Delegate Kathy Tran and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in their own Herodian words. The ancient Romans gave the power of life and death over their children to the father; our society gives it to the mother, but it is all the same innocent victim.

The video of Delegate Tran is galling not only in its honesty but in its sheer barbarism. Governor Northam’s response to questions about this bill are not only horrific but calmly stated in his soft southern accent as he deceptively weaves the concept of palliative care for infants with what has since been called a fourth trimester abortion. Of course, there is no such thing as a fourth trimester in pregnancy, and the reality is that cloaking it as such is just another one of myriad of attempts to hide the truth from ourselves because we just can’t handle it. Governor Northam’s conflation of palliative care and abortion is also a grave insult to every mother and father who has held their preterm or full term baby in their arms as their hearts beat as one for a short while before the new life, not long for this earth, ebbs slowly into the next one due to an untreatable medical condition and not as the result of intentional killing. The governor’s words are a slap in the face to every good medical professional who abides by the Hippocratic Oath in caring for these children. These modern-day handmaids of Herod seek only to preserve their own thrones, as he did, by sacrificing innocent children for the sake of raw, pathetic, political power.

At the end of the day after we got home from the March,  my daughter and I shared a cup of hot tea at the kitchen table.  She said, “You know, the March for Life is one of those things that you’re always glad you went to when you get home.” Indeed. When I get to heaven’s gate, I want to hear the babies say, “She was there. She was with us. She was not silent.”

Join The Family Foundation and thousands of pro-life Virginians for the first Virginia March for Life being held on April 3, 2019 at the Capitol. Click Here to Register Today.

Watch Delegate Kathy Tran testify about her bill.

The Governor Speaks: