“Change” was the key word used by Barack Obama seeking the American presidency. It worked like magic. The news media had pictured Bush’s presidency as such a disaster that many people were easily convinced that “any change” was desirable. We now have a taste of what this change has brought about.
It is a serious confusion to assume that change and progress mean improvement. If we are driving toward an abyss, it would be wise to “regress” and turn around.
St. Paul tells us that we should test all things and keep what is (morally) good. The wise Plato wrote centuries ago that we should respect “the golden cord of tradition.” For “old” can refer to things which have become useless, which no longer have a meaning, which are “exhausted.”
But it would be most unwise to assume that whatever the past has given us, should be labeled as “passe.” Indeed, our technological progress is mind- boggling … but can we say that this progress is matched by our acquisition of “wisdom?”
Another attractive word is the word “liberal.” It is associated with “generosity”, “open mindedness”, and opposed to “conservative” which does not appeal to most of us being associated with “stiffness” “old fashioned”, allergic to “improvement.” Aristotle praises “liberality” as a virtue. It has a “ring” which is music to many people’s ears.
Another very powerful tool used to win over people’s assent are slogans. We shall limit myself to the most fashionable today. Family planning immediately comes to mind. Malthus has succeeded in scaring innumerable people by the deadly “threat” of overpopulation. This goes so far that not long ago when I met the Belgian Ambassador to the United States, and deplored the fact that Belgians had so very few children and have to “import” Muslims in order to make up for the scarcity of Belgian workers, he exclaimed proudly: “We Belgian people, are keenly aware of the danger of overpopulation!”
Clearly he was praising the “virtuous” attitude of his fellow citizens; they were “other” concerned, as opposed to people who wildly procreate not caring for the consequences that their irresponsible behavior will have for future generations. To limit the number of children one brings into the world is now “canonized” as a social virtue.
Indeed, planning is an important word in the human vocabulary. To neglect to plan is unwise and can lead to catastrophic consequences. It is praised in the Gospel: before waging war, a King should carefully examine his situation and plan his defense. Planning is so “reasonable”; it is so sound. No planning is bound to lead to defeat.
But as always, the word is hijacked by the devil: any honest person favoring “family planning” knows full well that it actually means the use of contraception. If the latter fails, it inevitably leads to the murder of a child. In fact, this is already what contraception means, except that being on a “smaller scale,” its immorality is more easily concealed.
Most do not realize (or do not want to realize) that contraceptives produce abortion. Once again, we have the same scenario; a word which is rich in positive meaning is twisted to such an extent that instead of a reasonable and laudable plan of action, it hides its shocking immorality. When contraception fails, the escape route for an unwanted pregnancy is the murder of an innocent human being. The word “murder” is still unpopular in most people’s ears, and therefore must be avoided at all cost. How much more attractive is the word “termination of pregnancy.” In and by itself, the word “terminate” is neutral and has no moral connotation. We terminate a work that is to bring it to completion. In this case, it actually means “we prevent it from coming to its normal end, which is being born.” But once again, this is cleverly disguised to avoid hurting “old fashioned sensitivities.”
In a free country - and we are still one - a woman should be given full freedom to “choose” whether she wants or not to become pregnant, and that when she has failed properly she has the right to choose a road of escape: to get rid or an unwanted guest. For an unwanted child is an intruder, a sort of thief that settles in a woman’s body without her free consent. If squatters were to invade my house, I would call the police to force them to leave. The same applies to an unwanted baby. Moreover, people will tell you that to kill a child in the womb is more “loving” and more “charitable” than to bring it into the world, and destine him to a life of misery and crime.
I once heard a person raise the question; can lawyers go to heaven? If the Evil one has trained them, we can only hope that at the moment of death, their eyes will open and make them repent to have used their “cleverness” to defeat justice.
The word “death” makes most people turn pale; indeed the prospect that this body of ours - (an essential component of our human nature to which we have been united since the moment of conception, and that most of us pamper in every possible ways to satisfy its cravings or to improve its appearance) -will one day die, rot and disintegrate is fearful. For the body without the soul loses its identify and its “oneness.”
Just as the union of body and soul in one human person can be called a divine invention, death is a divine punishment. God knew it when He said to Adam and Eve: “If you eat of the fruit of this tree, you shalt die” what a fearful chastisement it was meant to be. Those who spend their lives in hospitals and live in constant proximity with death are threatened by the great danger: become dehumanized.
To quote the Queen in Hamlet; “It is common for men to die.” But, this does not imply that we no longer see it as a terrible punishment. This “brutal wrenching of body and soul is awful and awesome.” Some people have an easy death; others go through agonizing pains. To witness such a sight should mark a person for life: the response is horror.
Once again, the Evil one knows that he has a trump card, and suggested to some generous “liberals” that there are types of death which are against and below man’s dignity. They degrade him. There are agonies that should be spared human persons. “Death with Dignity” was coined by the Evil One, and as expected, was an immediate success. Which one of us would not like to have a dignified death? Which one of us would like to die like a dog in a gutter?
What is not mentioned is that to guarantee this “dignity.”
As soon as certain ominous symptoms make their appearance a “charitable” doctor or nurse will strongly recommend assisted suicide. It suffices to show patients a film of people having a terrible agony to opt for a peaceful death which - in fact - “is an act of charity” toward those we love. By choosing a “peaceful death,” I also spare them the terrible sight of a person in fearful pains, whose organs decompose while he is still alive. Is that a life anyway? “Charity and mercy” are words which, alas, have now often hijacked by the Devil.
Always again, the Gospels remind us that we are threatened by spiritual somnolence, and fail to see dangers until we are caught in their deadly nets. Fratres, sobrii estote et vigilate (St. Peter, Second Epistle) should be on our lips every single day of our earthly life.
With the help of God’s grace, let us be alert and detect the poison contained in “fashionable slogans.” We should, like the wise virgins, always carry oil in our lamps.
How fearful if the Bridegroom were to come when we belatedly realize that soon our lamps would be extinguished, and then hear the fearful words, “I do not know you”?