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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Person is A Person

As the world is flooded by myriad content, is religion one of those that will fall as being irrelevant or is it making itself irrelevant?

I ask this question for a number of reasons. Being a Catholic and coming from a deeply religious and close family, i am branded as an agnostic and secular. Which is in itself a paradox. I practice the sacraments. I am a regular sunday church goer and as long as we're keeping score, only a handful of times that I'd miss one. However imperfect life is--- I'd like to think being good most of the time must count for something doesn't it?

It was probably the joke that I made after (by my count) 55 times the holy eucharist was celebrated during my grandmother's wake. I joked that that was a year's supply of Holy Eucharist and that's a huge line of credit, don't you think? Then again, it could also be the somewhat reserved way I approach most of the traditions of the church. "enthusiastic" would be the last word, one would use of course.

I found Julia Sweeney's 20 minute performance to be funny. She performed an excerpt from her one woman-play "Letting Go of God":

Last Sunday's homily, our Parish Priest was reading a Pastoral Letter issued by the Bishop on how important elections where and reminding people to vote wisely and how we should find candidates and vote for them who were like Jesus. Which really troubled me.

I don't know anyone who could remotely be LIKE Jesus, much less a candidate for public office. wasn't that why we were in Church? Trying so hard to follow in Jesus's footsteps?

The sermon degenerated on a reminder of the Church's stand on abortion and contraceptives and divorce.

Now, I've never really have a problem with the whole concept of abortion. As a rule, I am against it. There are understandably medical situations where the rules get muddled. Whenever possible the life of mother and child should be protected but by default, if push came to shove then it is the mother's life that must be "Saved". Standard triage, right? Of course there are exceptions: if the child would fare better than the mother, of course, the child must be saved. Or if a choice between mother and child and you get to choose only one, and the mother made the conscious decision to save the child, then the child must be saved.

What about the part where the mother decides for herself to terminate the child? According to the late Pope John Paul II, in his book "Crossing the Threshold of Hope", no woman wants to terminate her child, most especially if there is a support structure to support her to keep it.

All things being equal, sex is a conscious decision of two parties and that the use of contraception is of course up to them, which quite frankly, practically makes a whole lot of sense. How the church is against the use of artificial contraception, abortion, divorce and all that hoopla--- i think muddles the message. Because it brings about such negative connotation from the get go. Perhaps put differently, if the spin could be put more positively, perhaps would yield a more accepting response.

How can there be a Church that thinks like that and still have such profound insight into the whole dimension of Love and Human Dignity? For instance, Pope John Paul II wrote that the person has value by the simple fact he is a person.

Put in another way: people should treat people as people: "the person is a being for whom the only suitable dimension is love. Love for a person excludes the possibility of treating him (or her) as an object of pleasure". and as a consequence of this whole bit about treating a person as a person: "responsible parenthood is the necessary condition for human love, and it is also the necessary condition for authentic conjugal love".

now, the way I see it, all of these things, whether divorce, abortion, the whole issue on contraceptives and parenting or being a good person all boils down to how we relate with others. We have to treat people as the person that they are. if you really love someone, wouldn't you go out of your way for that person: whether she's your girlfriend, your wife or unborn child? That some bit of sacrifice is involved and that you give a little of yourself to that person in the process?

Planning a family for instance, one has got to ask one's self: are you ready to raise that kid. the whole dad playing ball with the son bit or the mom putting kids as priority. it works just as well if you're a single parent (mom or dad). When you're a parent, single or otherwise, would it be such a sacrifice to forego stuff you wanted for yourself because that money could go a long way towards your child's education for instance? Wouldn't you want the best and the greatest possible thing for your child?

treating a person a person: guess that works too for a single mom contemplating an abortion, or for that man with a huge problem with drugs. May be it'll help solve the problem of Child Soldiers and bring civility into the world. Maybe it'll help heal the deep underlying wounds that the Muslim world is feeling; that many people are feeling: how else are we to explain people setting off bombs in cities and neighborhoods where they grew up in?

Maybe when we get right at the heart of it, the more we treat a person as a person, the better a lot of things would be. Guess, love starts with respect and ends with responsibility. it is easier said than done but sending that message across would probably save a lot of people, a huge amount of grief. May be this is what religion is for: learning to treat each other like people. We need to treat each other as a fellow human. Maybe that's what human dignity is all about.