Friday, July 23, 2004

No mixed feelings in politics

No mixed feelings in politics

According to Professor H. D. Miller, John Kerry is a waffler. Not too surprising, since that's the official right-wing line. Bush, on the other hand, is decisive. And that's better. Not. Face it, folks, both have their places in life -- and certainly in the kind of people who run countries. What Miller sees as waffling (in this particular case, the pro-choice question), I see as an honest approach to a difficult question. People and their opinions change over time. Even values change over time -- not the big ones, we hope, but for example, I know lots of people who, as they have grown older and begun to raise families, have compromised on the "greenness" of their automobiles for safety and comfort. (The queen of the comma strikes again)

In Kerry's case, I think we're seeing someone who really doesn't think abortion is a good thing -- maybe even a wrong thing -- but perhaps understands that the question that lies at the root is not all that clear-cut. What exactly is human life? If it's a fertilized egg, then it's biological life, plain and simple.
But is that the standard? If it is, then how is it that we as a species seem to treat so many other living things with little or no respect -- including, ultimately, ourselves? If we care about biological life so much, should we pollute the way we do? Hell, even overeating should carry a much greater stigma, since we are killing something (unless you're on the all-dairy plan) every time we eat. And let's not even go to the "some (e.g., human) life is more important than dumb animals and plants" argument. I think it's pretty damned clear that, as a species, we have no problems taking the lives of other humans if it suits us.

In terms of plain biological life and its importance, I also have to ask if we then have an obligation to make sure every fertilized egg implants and grows to term. Will we monitor women to make sure that they keep themselves in the best health, just in case they get pregnant? Should we devise some monthly test that tells us whether an egg has been fertilized, and then mourn if it gets flushed away with the endometrium? Should we intrude on the life of every woman who has a perfectly normal miscarriage and is mourning the loss, just to make sure she was doing everything she could to bring that to term. 'Cause she wouldn't be going over that in her head, over and over, would she?

Oh -- but that's not enough to give people mixed opinions on the question of life, you say? Let's speak of the soul, then. Is that what makes humans human? (Although I did hear something about animals having souls ...) But say that's it. The soul. Has anyone been able to demonstrate the point at which the soul enters the body? Does the soul even exist? Aren't these questions best answered by religion? I think they are. I don't know about Kerry -- he hasn't mentioned this particular question. But if different religions teach different views on the soul, its existence, and when it enters the body (if ever), can we let any one religious viewpoint decide for the rest? In countries with a state religion, I suppose that makes sense (although if that state religion were Islam, I'm sure that people here would complain). However, the last time I looked, the U.S. didn't have a state religion. In fact, many Americans pride themselves on the idea that we've been pretty good at separating church and state over the past 220-odd years.

So maybe as a religious man, Kerry thinks one thing, but as someone who has devoted much of his adult life to the service of his country, he is not willing to place his private beliefs above the laws of the land or to impose them on the people he represents. What a novel idea. How American in the best sense of the word.

1 comment:

Norma said...

You need some perspective from a retired academic. You will survive, my dear.