Jakubczyk on Common Sense

Applying faith and reason to ideas, issues and events in today's world

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John J. Jakubczyk has been active in the Pro-Life Movement since 1975.  He served as President of Arizona Right to Life, Arizona's largest, oldest and strongest pro-life organization.  He was on the board of AzRTL for many years and now acts as the Arizona delegate to the National Right to Life Committee.  As the founder and president of Southwest Life & Law Center, he continues to use his legal skills to assist in advising, counseling and defending women, children, pro-life activists, organizations, as well as victims of abortion. A national speaker, motivator and adviser since the 1980s, he is very familiar with the history of the movement at the national level.   A founder and past president of Ville de Marie Academy, he served as a trustee for 15 years.  He has been an attorney in private practice for 35 years, is active in his church, married, the father of 11 children, and a proud grandfather.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Leadership in the future

During this time when there is the inevitable hand-wringing and finger pointing, one must remember that strong and intelligent leadership in the pro-life pro-family community is needed if we are to continue to battle against those forces that would consign our movement to the dust heap of history. Fortunately in our state we have had some courageous leadership in men and women who I have had the good fortune to know and to work with in this struggle.

As I think about the recent victory with Proposition 102, one cannot but applaud the hard work and excellent leadership of Cathi Herrod of Center for Arizona Policy and Ron Johnson of the Arizona Catholic Conference. Their smart strategies and strategic planning helped to protect the institution of marriage. Now it is important for all of us who believe in marriage to live our lives as an example of what marriage is all about. The best way to strengthen the institution of marriage is for married people to inspire people by lives of holiness and happiness.

On the legal front gentlemen like Peter Gentalla of CAP, Nick Nikas of BDF and Alan Sears of ADF represent some of the finest qualities of smart pro-life leadership. Peter has been an important part of the success in the Choose life license plate controversy. Nick has been a leader in the effort to fight ESCR and cloning around the country. Alan is the president and CEO of the Alliance Defense Fund, a powerful legal support for the principles of life, liberty, and family.

Another lawyer and policy maker, Len Munsil, past president for the Center For Arizona Policy, and his wife, Tracy, also represent leaders who have a strong pro-life vision for this state. Two years ago Len challenged the establishment with a real honest-to-goodness grassroots campaign that surprised everyone. Fighting the power of incumbency and the silent but deadly treatment of the media, Munsil was nevertheless able to articulate a clear vision that integrated a pro-life philosophy in his view of governance. His wife Tracy has walked the talk, being a mother of eight children, a speaker and teacher. She now finds herself asked to offer her talent in leadership for the GOP Committee in legislative District 8.

In Tucson there is Kelly Copeland, someone who has always been the go-to-guy when something needed to be done. And he is raising up his sons to join him in the effort to promote life and protect it at all stages. Kelly's abilities to challenge the complacency of certain people has often required they re-think their agendas.

Each of the various pregnancy centers have their leaders and their inspirations. Indeed as I compose this post, I am amazed at the number of leaders who are also in every way laborers in the field, offering real hope and real help to women and children in need. People like Lorie Futch, Sheila Riely, Kim Schmidt, John Tabor, Mary Peterson, Kay Allen, all have servants' hearts and lead by example.

Then there is the next generation of young people with whom I have had the honor of working with over these many years. And while I can readily salute them by name, I will leave their actions to be the proof of their ongoing influence in the struggle.

Of course I must tip my hat to those who showed us the way, legends like Dr. Carolyn Gerster and Dr. Earl Baker. That column on their heroics and those of the early leadership in Arizona is worthy of its own posting.

So many more I could name but the point is that all of us have the capacity to be leaders in the movement if we remember that it is not about us, it is about others. It is about protecting life and building relationship. It is about promoting a vision that recognizes the dignity and worth of the individual person. In a way all of us ae called to lead when it comes to life. We are to lead first by example. We must live our love of life and our love of not just humanity but of human beings. As we approach the Advent season, we should put this mantra into practice.

One final thought. In any movement there will be those who have honest disagreements as to strategies, tactics, plans, timing and approaches. There is nothing wrong with that. However it is how one resolves to work with others even and especially when one does not get ones way that marks the character of the person. After all what are we about if not for the betterment of our fellow man?

Post election thoughts

It has been two weeks since the elections and there has been a great deal of commentary by pundits and experts and those who are neither. I have specifically avoided writing down my thoughts as the days have gone by for a couple of reasons which I will now share. The first is that many who wrote as to why McCain lost the election stated the obvious. Everyone knew that he was going up against a series of inevitables and one need not repeat what was common understanding. Yet despite the stacked deck, there were some who believed that McCain could have won had he emphasized certain positions and stayed on message. Of course the timing of Paulson’s announcement of a financial crisis had many wondering about the October surprise that came early in September. Even had McCain followed these ideas, who really can say how the frustrated and confused American people would have reacted.
The media made Barack Obama and having made him had to insure his victory. He was given a total pass on issues, areas of his past, and pronouncements that should have drawn strict scrutiny from an independent press. But the press is not independent and now finally everyone knows the truth. We in the pro-life movement have long known of the inherent bias and prejudice in the media in their coverage of the abortion issue.
McCain and his campaign did not successfully connect Obama to the failed policies of liberalism. Because Obama is such a smooth talker and can extract himself verbally out of any difficulty, the McCain campaign should have connected him to his advisers, Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson in every speech and at every turn. But they did not. They should have tied him to the Pelosi/Reid Congress. But they did not. They tried to address the energy crisis and did show some traction in that regard. But the drop in gas prices at the pump put that issue to bed. Indeed the very strength McCain held in foreign policy matters and concerning the Iraq surge served to be his undoing. The war was not an issue.
Many had hoped that McCain would oppose the bailout. He did not and so he failed to distinguish himself from Obama. But the area where John McCain failed to take advantage of the clearest and starkest difference between the two candidates was on the social issues of abortion, marriage, and school choice in education.
Except for the time surrounding his appearance at Saddleback Church where he clearly won the exchange of ideas and garnered support from the majority of those watching, McCain did not talk about marriage and the family. He rarely mentioned education. In failing to do so, he missed an opportunity to give people a clear understanding between the two candidates on these issues.
Now many will say that his failure to make them centerpieces means that the public did not consider them. Given the attention paid by the media to the economic slowdown and the negative inferences to the Republicans for causing the situation, one must agree. But it seems to me that the problems with the family, the economy and the life issues all somehow connect.
When people believe in themselves and have a positive attitude about life, they are inclined to take chances and try new things. When they are afraid, they close up and repress any ideas that may involve risk. When people are self centered, they care not for others and therefore do not act in the public or common interest. When people are concerned about their fellow human beings, good things happen and all benefit.
Apply that to marriage and the family. Apply that to economics and natural resources. Apply the same concept to the idea that people are our greatest natural resource. Mother Teresa once told a group of us that the greatest gift you as a parent could give to your child was a brother or a sister. In other words when it is all settled, what is important in life are the relationships we have with other human beings.
When we as a culture say no to life, we begin the process of slowly killing ourselves. We need to have growth in order to live. We need children in order for there to be a future. Supporting life, promoting life, respecting life is the means of saying that we really care about our fellow human beings. After all, think – who will be there to run the trains, push the gurneys, buy the cars, make the stoves, if we do not have children. And who will power this great complicated economic machine if there are less people.
When a people chose life, good things will happen for children are a good and their being helps us realize that life is a wonderful gift. But if the society does not chose life, what then?
All of this should help us to keep things in perspective over the next four years. The country may be in for some tough times. We may have to multiply our prayers and sacrifices to help protect the unborn and the elderly. But we cannot give up. We cannot abandon our duty to stand up for life. Our commitment to life must be as strong now as it ever has been. Only then can we look our children in the eye and ask them to continue in the great cause for life.