Above the entrance to Auschwitz, Dachau, and other Nazi labor camps, stands a wrought iron sign created by those who were imprisoned in the camp. The sign states, “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which translates to “Work Sets You Free.” Near Pro-life Week at Loras College, this statement prompts us to reflect upon its relevance to the structure of our own societal systems. What does it mean to be pro-life, does it only mean pro-life on abortion? Does it mean valuing all human lives and letting them live as Thoreau wished, “deeply and deliberately?” Are we living within a society which believes in this sort of liberation? If so, how come our pro-life efforts aren’t geared to combat this horrid ideal — that only through market competition and labor can we be set free?
Presumably, the goal of every college student within the U.S., and arguably the goal of every American, is to have a secure job in which we can support ourselves and perhaps a family, if we so choose. A career in which we work to retire at an age in which we can live comfortably playing golf and knitting our grandchildren scarfs and mittens. Too many times this retirement is not reached and the majority of our lives seemed to be geared towards a goal outside of our control, for most certainly the possibility of death before retirement looms to either side of the narrow path.
Do we then believe, that horrid and grotesque statement above the very places in which we found some of the worst crimes against humanity? Is not our lifestyle an act of “simple reductionism” as Pope Francis would say? If it is, would not the most pro-life thing we could do be to oppose such a system and try to find something that would much better promote individuals living out their creative potential?
It is time to reflect upon the values in which we hold to be most important within our country. Our conception of liberty, equality, and freedom has been skewed by a history of propagation and disillusionment.
We believe and protect that statement which greeted thousands of people wrongfully taken from their lives, who saw their only liberation as death. Not only do we spread this ideal, we are those people who walk through the gate and see that iron, and we brainwash ourselves to believe it. You tell me if that’s pro-life.