The Lost Generation

For teens at the Rock for Life concert, the abortion debate was over. But the issue wasn't.

When I saw the pink earplugs in his hand, I felt older than I've ever felt in my life.

I had been invited to be a speaker at an all-day rock concert, and the host had warned me in a prior e-mail that the groups following me would be pretty loud. The afternoon bands, I was told, were "kind of mellow--my mom likes these bands." (Reading that sentence was the

second

oldest I've felt.) But "the bands at night are hardcore--which is very loud and the lyrics are basically screamed out."

As I came off the stage and some rangy kids in black took my place, my host was there, reaching into his pocket and bringing out a pair of earplugs for me.

Taking care of Grandma, I thought.

The event was Rock for Life, one of a series of rock concerts held nationwide to benefit organizations that help pregnant women. Admission was $8 "and a jar of baby food or some baby clothes." When I walked in, the room was crowded with teen and twenty-somethings wearing chains, tattoos, spiked hair, metal studs, and distant, aloof expressions. Perhaps that was part of the outfit, or maybe they were just worn out by the preceding punk rock and ska bands.

How to get their attention? I couldn't imagine they were waiting eagerly to hear a pro-life-movement old-timer speak. I clambered up on stage and announced that since it was a concert, I was going to begin by singing something.



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Eyes got very wide. I sang one of the ancient Byzantine hymns of Eastern Christianity. Eyes got wider. I figured I had their attention for about 15 minutes, so I talked fast.

I told them that the abortion debate is over. There was a time when it was the hot topic, and you couldn't turn on the TV or pick up a magazine without seeing it discussed. But that's over. People got tired of it. It seemed, after a while, that there was nothing left to say.

That doesn't mean the issue is settled. It won't be settled until we arrive at a solution that will let our consciences be at peace--one where unwanted pregnancy is prevented, pregnant women are supported, and unborn children are protected. Abortion is an issue of violence, I said, and no just nation condones violence against children.

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