I am astonished by a truck emblazoned with giant photos of aborted foetuses, driving blithely up Water Street as if it were just another moving-van. I run down Mill to Bernard and there I burst upon a group of protestors drawing attention to billboards of bloody abortions.
The placards of human meat stun the senses, but I snap a photo and introduce myself to a young couple. They are polite, engaging and impassioned by their protest. I hand them my card and share my reservations about the methods they are using to decry the outcomes of pro-choice.
"I think you’re only going to alienate people," I say, alluding to the gore upheld for the benefit of traffic and passersby.
“But abortion’s a brutal act, and it has to be exposed!” Replies a young woman of about twenty. In her voice I hear the intense urgency of a movement contending with the spirit of our time, which questions the nature of life, and bestows upon the individual the power to decide its fate.
I share my concern about the impact of such photos on the unprepared, and especially upon children. The young woman replies by pointing out a child in the arms of a protestor. She then invites me to take a photo of the group displaying the contrasting outcomes of pro-life and pro-choice. They seem uncertain, somewhat nervous around my camera, and later I wonder why two look away.
As I leave they hand me a brochure which identifies them as members of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform. And I fold it because the images assault and tear at the soul. Ahead on Bernard a young woman in the midst of another group defiantly raises a banner above her head but quickly turns when I focus my lens.
Over the week the images of plundered innocence slowly fade. I realize that I have stumbled upon soldiers waging the culture wars that will determine how we shall live. Contending visions of what is true and good battle for the minds and hearts of pedestrians on city streets. And this struggle about who has the right to terminate a life, this irreconcilable wrestling of giants, is only the tip of the question that will forever separate us: What is truth? – And from where does it come?