There are moments throughout the history of our nation that assisted us in our growth and formation as a national “persona.”
The demand for a “Bill of Rights” insured the rights of individuals would be protected and not usurped by governmental authorities. The Louisiana Purchase and the expansion of the nation westward certainly expanded the vision of a nation. However, just as there are moments that formed us in a positive direction, there were moments that sadly had a negative influence over our “persona” and left us an embedded evil.
As much as I admire George Washington, our first president, and I truly do, his inability to address the “slavery question” kicked the can down the road and forced future generations to confront the problem in a manner that caused a social upheaval.
Sadly, many factors concerning slavery, economic as well as political, became the focus to avoid a decision instead of addressing the real evil.
The Dred Scott decision, issued by the nation’s Supreme Court, declared a man, a human being, to be the property of another equating a person to be no more than a sack of potatoes.
It was a Civil War, which claimed the lives of more than 620,000 soldiers, almost as many as all the soldiers lost in all other American wars combined. Even then, the future efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a Civil Rights Act were needed just to raise the consciences of a nation ravaged by Jim Crow Laws and institutional racism.
The treatment of our Native Americans from the very beginning of our nation is a history of establishing and breaking treaties. Various Indian Massacres at the hands of American troops took place such as the Bear River Massacre in Idaho in 1863 where 250 men women and children died. We have yet to properly resolve our treatment and integration of the Native American into the fabric of our American society.
In 1943, in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps at times referred to as relocation camps. This was done through an executive order by a popular president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
FDR’s decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in a ruling against Fred Korematsu. In the 1980s, a commission was established to investigate criticisms that the internment camps were really racism, since German Americans were not interred. The commission found that the relocation camps were a product of racism, war hysteria and failure of political leadership. There was a nominal monetary settlement and a public apology by then President Ronald Reagan.
These are examples of how our public “persona” as a nation was injured by a failure to address these evils. Too many good people remained silent in the face of these evils, which could have made a difference. They were clearly against the laws of our country as well as being against the moral laws.
In a few short days, many of our high school young people and faithful of the archdiocese will make their way to Washington D.C. for the annual pro-life march. There will be hundreds of thousands of people all voicing their disagreement with the Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
For the most part, they will be ignored. However, their numbers are growing and the support for protection of the unborn is being demanded by those who will be the future voters of our country’s leaders.
The Roe vs. Wade decision is sadly another one of those negative influences on the persona of our country’s character. The determination was made on the basis of the right of “privacy” which doesn’t exist in the constitution. There is a call for a “choice” to be offered to the mother in order to exercise a right over her own body. Reasonable arguments if one discounts the fact that there is another human being who should be considered.
The church clearly maintains that life begins at the moment of conception: The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”
In the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Somehow, either before the Supreme Court justices or by some sort of “sleight of hand,” the unborn became a piece of property, a “sack of potatoes” and not a human being. It reminds one of the Dred Scott decision.
Today’s technology, especially DNA, affirms the existence of a separate human being countering the claims of those who put forth that it is merely a cluster of tissues. Tell that to a mother who is looking at an ultrasound of her child in the womb.
In our modern “Brave New World,” our inability to establish the rights of the unborn has left unborn as products of the business world of genetics. There are hundreds of thousands of fertilized eggs or embryos condemned to the limbo of frozen tanks. In the area of the production of life, scientific technology has exceeded our ethical principles.
The legalized destruction of life in abortion since the Roe vs. Wade decision has destroyed more lives than the Holocaust, the Stalin purge or Mao’s Chinese Cultural Revolution.
I applaud and pray for our Washington D.C. pro-life marchers. Their Christian witness gives voice to those unborn, silenced by an unreasonable law and gives us hope that we may one day eradicate this stain on our national “persona.”