Barbarism or Civility? America Must Choose

Barbarism or Civility? America Must Choose

By Judie Brown

The violence of the past two weeks has absorbed the nation and left some numb, others angry, others devastated, and still others with a penchant to capitalize over the bodies of the dead. This capitalizing over dead bodies is called politics, and that is nothing new.

As awful as these bloodbaths are, they are not solely political issues. In fact, they should make us pause and ask some simple questions: Is there really a difference between a rifle used as an assault weapon, a handgun used to perpetrate a crime, and the abortionist’s knife? Does it really matter whether an innocent person dies because of the ingestion of a birth control chemical or a poisoned cocktail? Isn’t every violently killed human being a tragedy?

The truth is, that since the decriminalization of contraception in 1965, the laws of our nation have been turned upside down. That decision paved the way for what followed eight years later, the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions that decriminalized the act of surgical abortion—an act that murders a human being. The results of these decisions have been the deaths of millions of individuals and the desensitization of the conscience of a nation.

How can we know this? All we have to do is critically think about what has resulted from the past 54 years of decriminalized preborn child killing, some of it intentional, some of it unintentional, yet all of it deadly.

It has always been the case that the pill can kill a preborn baby prior to his ability to implant in his mother’s womb. Yet today there are organizations like the Pill Club—a website that makes acquiring birth control easy—that fail to explain the manner in which the pill may work to kill a preborn baby.

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Back in the day, could you ever have imagined an elected official publicly proclaiming that abortion is a “sacred choice”?

Perhaps not, but today there are state lawmakers who argue that there should be a law that requires 50 percent of a lawmaking body to be women prior to any proposals being considered that might affect the availability of abortion. Why?

The answer is simple: The act of abortion is now considered by most folks to be a health question that involves women, not men. But as one writer reminds us: “Abortion is about ‘women’s health care’ the way that the Civil War was said to be about ‘states’ rights.’ It’s a convenient distraction from the moral atrocity that defines the conflict, designed to make those who take the odious position seem justified.”

The lives of human beings are cheapened, their human dignity assaulted, and the culture wounded every time a person is intentionally killed, whether by rifle, knife, ingestion of a deadly chemical, abortion, euthanasia, or some other travesty that robs the innocent of their lives. This is why in our day it seems that our throw-away society can no longer draw a line.

When Archbishop Charles Chaput tells us that “treating the symptoms in a culture of violence doesn’t work” he is not wrong. He suggests we look deeper. It seems that self-examination is where each of us should begin.

If I might offer a simple starting point for conversations about what is happening to America, it would be this: We should ask where our rights actually come from—the state or the Lord. It is in that question, as Father Michael Orsi points out, that we learn the way to bring healing to our broken culture. He says:

God gives you your rights. . . . They are anchored in God. . . . And so God sets the standard for what is right and what is wrong. . . . And in order to have a healthy political system, in order to have America as we know America, God has to play an important role in our civil discourse.

Civility begins with honesty and the ability to discern what is right and what is wrong. Which will Americans choose: barbarism or civility?

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