Last week, my 5-year-old grandson and I went to see the movie, “March of the Penguins.”
MOTP is a documentary that tells of the incredible sacrifices emperor penguins make to reproduce, protect their eggs, and safeguard their babies’ lives in the harshest conditions on earth.
In light of the pro-life issue, I watch animal documentaries and dramas with mixed emotions. On one hand, there are usually a couple of scenes about pregnancy or giving birth corroborating that, yes, on a gut level, people do recognize the sanctity of life.
For instance, an early scene of “Finding Nemo” shows Nemo’s desperate father, whose wife and incubating eggs have just been devoured by a predator, spotting Nemo, his lone surviving embryonic progeny, in a see-through egg. Instantly his despair turns to joy. He certainly does not consider his preborn son a blob of tissue.
On the other hand, scenes like this magnify the depravity of people who condone abortion, and I am refilled with angst.
MOTP hit me harder than most. Almost every scene and narrative verified the beauty of life and the rightness of protecting it.
Every March, as the Antarctic summer ends, scattered tribes of emperor penguins travel up to 70 miles to an ancient inland breeding ground, chosen instinctively because this is where ice is the thickest and will remain solid until the following summer, so the young won’t fall through it. Upon arrival, penguins find mates with whom they are monogamous for a yearlong breeding cycle.
In early June, females lay one egg, and, as pro-abort actor Morgan Freeman narrated, “From now on the couple has but a single goal – keeping the egg alive … The tiny beating heart within the shell cannot survive more than a moment in the freezing air.”
(Mr. Freeman, do you ever contemplate what you read?)
By now, parents have gone without food for two months, and mom has lost 1/3 of her body weight. In a chivalrous role reversal, dads assume responsibility for their eggs for an incredible two additional months, so moms can trek 70 miles back to the sea for food and to regain strength to care for their hatchlings.
Sometimes when mom transfers the egg to dad, it cracks. In that case, narrated Freeman, “The couple can only watch as the ice claims their egg and the life within it.”
Throughout the harshest winter in the world, when there is no sunlight, temperatures drop to -80 degrees, and winds blow 100 miles per hour, fathers huddle together to protect their eggs, nestled atop gentle, clawed feet and underneath a fold of warm, feathered skin.
Mothers instinctively return when hatchlings are a couple of days old. Most of them return, anyway. Seals have killed a few. “With a snap of its jaw,” said Freeman, “the seal actually takes two lives – one of the mother and one of her unborn chick, who will never be fed.”
Mothers assume care of the chicks so fathers can trod 70 miles to the sea to eat. For the next several months the two will take turns caring for their baby and shuttling back and forth to the ocean, until their baby is old enough to fend for itself.
As I watched MOTP, I wondered how people could ooh and aww when baby penguins pecked out of their shells, or cover their eyes when a giant petrel attacked a baby penguin, yet not give a thought to the dismemberment and killing of human babies.
I wondered, what would it take for people to connect? I juxtaposed the willingness of penguins to freeze and starve to death for their babies to the unwillingness of humans to forfeit any indulgence whatsoever for their babies.
I remembered last year’s March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C., when pro-aborts gathered to bolster their right to kill babies.
I thought, maybe a penguin movie analogy would help people understand.
The movie would open with militant feminist penguins marching to their ancient political breeding ground, where lusting, self-centered males waited. There they would all serial-mate, despising the prospect of producing babies. Should the unthinkable happen, close-ups would show frenzied penguins pecking open eggs and ripping babies apart, or inserting little hoses into the eggs to suction babies out. Fathers would abandon mothers who changed their minds and wanted to keep their eggs to fend for themselves.
But a movie like that won’t ever be made, because it would expose anti-lifers as demented.
Still, I sometimes wish humans would behave more like animals.