Most years, the last week of Advent finds my family scrambling to finish the Christmas preparations. This year, it looks like everything will be in order an hour or two after Christmas Midnight Mass, which is to say, more or less on time. My scramble this year is doubly hectic. For the past few years, I have given a few family members knitted presents. I usually start Christmas knitting in early November, but since November was pretty eventful this year, I got a little behind. If I’m lucky, I can still finish everything for Christmas. If not, I’ll remind a couple people that there are twelve days of Christmas and keep on knitting. Until then, I will be knitting during every free moment.
Since most knitting requires minimal brain power, and since I don’t having any massively complicated projects, I have plenty of time for thinking while I’m knitting. After a while, though, even my most clever thoughts get wound up in the yarn and all I have left to think about is how the problems of the world are like knitting.
I like my knitting to be perfect, especially when the project is being given as a Christmas present. I dream of dozens of tidy rows with columns of beautiful, even stitches. Sock heels with no holes at the gussets. Getting through an entire project without a single dropped stitch delights me more than words can tell. At least, I think it would if I ever managed it. I have never actually knitted anything that was perfect. Every project I have ever made was marred by some flaw, perhaps very small, perhaps not so small. Of course, I certainly prefer small flaws to full blown disasters. Pulling out a project and restarting it a few times gets pretty disheartening after about two tries.
Interestingly though, the problems that require a project to be frogged (ripped out) are very rarely the catastrophic problems one might expect. Dropping a dozen stitches in an unexpected wrestling match with a one-year-old is a problem that can be fixed. As long as you aren’t knitting something really, really fancy, fixing that will just take a few minutes of high concentration. Most of the problems that end with me frogging something are caused by a single stitch being mishandled. Perhaps it was knit when it should have been purled. Maybe I dropped it and didn’t notice for three or four rows. A single stitch being botched can make the entire project collapse around it with shocking effectiveness while you stare at the mess your carelessness created and beg to know why. A single messed up stitch can ruin everything. In the average pair of socks that I knit, there are roughly 18,776 stitches. That’s around 18,776 opportunities to mess everything up.
Likewise, humans have thousands of opportunities to mess up in life. Something that seems very small can have astounding effects on the world. For instance, one teenager in search of an abortion at a critical point in history resulted in the legalized murder of millions of unborn infants. Those murders have resulted in skewed view of the value of human life, the importance of individual responsibility, the value of the family as the core of society, etc. Lately it seems like mass shootings are about as rare as tropical disturbances in the Gulf of Mexico. There are dozens of quotes that link the murder of innocent infants to the disregard for human life that is necessary for these shootings to be as common as they are. Those connections are clear to anyone who cares to look. Where Natural Law is dismantled, natural outlaws are bound to appear.
Shootings like the one in Connecticut on the fourteenth reinforce the connection with remarkable force, because it is so easy to draw the line between the innocent schoolchildren and the innocent unborn children. It is much harder to draw the connection between the unborn and the man who pulled the trigger. Nonetheless, it is absolutely necessary to do so.
If the human dignity is to be restored, and human life once again valued, that means that every life has to carry the same value. A hero cannot be worth more than a coward, an infant cannot be worth more than an elderly person. If one person’s life is worth more than another, problems are sure to follow. For instance, at some point, it is entirely possible that scientists will isolate the portions of the brain that hint at being dangerous, say, the child growing up to be a mass murderer. At that point, someone will develop a way to test for those tendencies. Currently about 90% of unborn children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted despite the fact that the test is not all that accurate. How much more tempting would it be to rid the world of a person who has a really good chance of growing up to be the gunman in a shooting? If parents can be frightened into aborting a child that will likely do little with his or her life beyond spreading joy and happiness to others, how much easier would it be to terrify them into destroying a person who might become a monster?
It is not hard to be pro-life while thinking about the unborn baby who might have been the person who cured cancer or secured world peace. But among the aborted children of the world, there were also those who would have grown up to be thieves, murderers, terrorists, or, perish the thought, the person who would have developed a chemical weapon that destroyed the world’s wool supply before anyone could have a chance to knit with it. And the end, the lives of dangerous people are, somehow or other, just as important as the lives of the people we like to talk about. Every stitch counts, even if doesn’t line up properly with the others.