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Carol Hoenig

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An Inappropriate Display

Posted: 10/29/08 04:34 PM ET

Finally, I'm back home, and it was just in time for this year's street festival. It's not as though I'm a big fan of street festivals, but this particular one has significant memories for me. I had written about my journey in "Getting Back Home" here and did a follow up here. So, I was in a celebratory mood--the Dutch Colonial I was able to buy back, after having to sell it several years ago due to a divorce agreement, is shaping up quite nicely; Scout and Shiloh are back in my possession and have acclimated quite well, in spite of Shiloh's serious illness. So, yes, I had lots to celebrate and the weekend festival just added to the fun.

It was kicked off with a parade where children, some dressed in their school uniform, others in dance attire or some even in a Halloween costume, most all wearing smiles, marched down the center of the street. On the sidelines were vendors selling their wares, from handcrafted jewelry, holiday decorations to a variety of art work. But there was one glaring display that stood out, one that didn't seem right for such an occasion. There on a table were plastic-molded fetus replicas in various stages of development. Signs accompanying the exhibit announced "celebrate life" or "choose life." I cannot be sure which since I was disturbed by the woman standing next to the display and the nearby teenage boy attempting to hand out leaflets to passersby. But I wasn't quite sure if I had a right to be bothered by their presence. Yes, it was a family event and quite likely parents would be confronted with having to rush their children by the display or else try to explain just what those images represented. However, if I were to be honest, I was more upset that this woman had the right to promulgate her beliefs and not only at a street festival, but most anywhere. Truth be told, I don't want her or anyone to have the right to judge another who has had to make the tough choice of terminating a pregnancy. No one is for abortion, but there is much to be said for promoting quality of life. Far too often there is the desire to stop a woman from terminating a pregnancy while not equipping her with what motherhood would bring. It's a personal decision and must remain that way.

Rain had a hand at cutting the festival short that day. I went home before seeing all the vendors' wares, but couldn't get that woman and her display out of my mind. I chastised myself for not saying something to her, something to try to get her to realize that she might make more of a difference by focusing on the children who are already here, children who have ended up being abused or ignored because their parents aren't equipped to love them. The next day was sunny and warm and I thought I'd be given a second chance to approach the woman. A friend came over and we walked down to the festival. As I got closer to where the woman and her display had been the day before, there was only an empty space on the sidewalk. I cannot be sure if she was harassed away or decided that perhaps the street festival wasn't the right place to promulgate her beliefs, but my chance to reason with her had been lost. It's probably just as well, though, since it's quite likely no amount of discussion was going to change her mind. And it's a certainty that she wasn't going to win me over with her words or images. One thing is for sure, though, some of life's complications should not be a part of a street festival.

 

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