The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Polarization and Cowardice

Have you noticed a growing polarization in almost every area of human conduct? For example, politics as the art of compromise seems a relic of the past as the left and the right line up behind their issues and become virtually immovable. Whether it's health care, immigration, taxation, foreign policy, national defense, same-sex "marriage", capital punishment, global warming, whatever...the battle lines are drawn with few willing to give more than a few inches. On these and many other issues, though, it's only the rare individual who consistently falls on one side or the other. Many, perhaps most, people are philosophically and ethically rudderless, and so they wander back and forth across the lines depending on the issue and their personal stake in it. But there seems to be one issue that trumps all others, one issue that defines where a person actually stands: the protection of innocent life. And at the heart of this issue is abortion.

For many people today the idea that a woman has a right to an abortion trumps virtually every other issue. But these folks aren't just on the traditional left, since many supporters of abortion rights would be considered conservative by most Americans. This is because for many conservatism has come to mean fiscal conservatism of the kind epitomized by the question: "Their spending my tax money on what?" Sadly, too many people are more concerned about protecting the contents of their wallets than protecting the lives of innocents. And so they tolerate so-called pro-choice politicians so long as they promise tax breaks and reduced spending. Indeed the "pro-choice" label was invented to provide electoral cover for those politicians who claim they don't favor abortion per se but simply want women to have a choice, to be able to make their own decision on such a personal matter. These are the "I'm personally against abortion, but..." politicians, and their name is Legion.

Of course, if a politician is "personally against" abortion and yet claims to be "pro-choice", we can only assume he is severely logically challenged. On the few occasions I've had the opportunity to question one of these confused officials, I've simply asked him, "Why are you personally against abortion?" Such a simple question, but one they cannot answer without condemning themselves, and so they either change the subject or just refuse to answer. The only logical reason to be personally opposed to abortion is the belief it is the taking of innocent life. And if one believes that, how can he favor giving someone the right to choose that outcome? The question forces the person to accept abortion for what it is, the willful killing of an innocent human being.

Too many of our politicians, however, care little about the morality of these issues, preferring instead to focus on their reelection. They will, therefore, squirm their way out of such confrontations by inundating their interrogators, and their constituents, with words, lots and lots of words, all signifying nothing. For they have learned that unless a politician's public stance and legislative record is strongly pro-life, he'll probably earn a pass from the abortion rights folks who will focus their efforts and their spending on defeating those politicians they consider the real "enemy".

And it's not just the politicians. In one of my ministries I work with people from a variety of Christian denominations and the one issue that overpowers all those that separate us is abortion. Sadly, it's pretty much the same story within the Church. Whenever I preach a pro-life homily I can be certain that I will be approached by one or more parishioners after Mass who apparently cannot understand why I, an ordained permanent deacon in the Catholic Church, would preach such divisive ideas as respect for life and the rejection of intrinsic evil. I used to argue with them, but no more. Now I simply smile and say, "I will pray for you," and then turn my attention to the next parishioner.

What a world! Lies, lies everywhere...except with Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Before you do anything else, why not take a minute to pray Pope John Paul II's prayer to Mary, Mother of Life.

O Mary,
bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life:
Look down, O Mother,
upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women who are victims of brutal violence,
of the elderly and the sick killed
by indifference or out of misguided mercy.

Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love
to the people of our time.

Obtain for them the grace
to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it
resolutely, in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.
Pax et bonum...

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