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Sunday, 29 November 2015 03:39


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Thomas Martin

Thomas Martin teaches in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. You may contact Thomas Martin at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Discerning Care

Laurel S. Marsh, executive director of ACLU Nebraska, begins her December 8 "Midlands Voices" piece, in the Omaha World-Herald, by stating, "I think we can all agree: Healthcare reform should improve people's lives."

She then proceeds to argue that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment added to an Affordable Healthcare for America Act, which does not pay for abortions:

. . . interfered with a woman's ability to get the healthcare she needs . . . [and] interferes with the private, personal healthcare decisions of millions of women.

Ms. Marsh is sure President Barack Obama does not support the bill and concludes:

Let's make sure that the president gets to sign a measure that recognizes the importance of respecting everyone's right to make personal healthcare decisions without government interference. Isn't that the kind of healthcare we all want for ourselves and our families?

The answer to her rhetorical question is "no." It is not an acceptable healthcare reform act.

There is a contradiction in Ms. Marsh's article. She clearly denies the sanctity of life of the unborn baby as a person whose rights are to be upheld, and sees abortion as a means of improving some peoples' rights.

Janet Smith, author of The Right to Privacy, states:

The rights language that undergirds abortion also falsifies the relationship between mother and child in the womb, and one of the most natural, loving relationships becomes characterized as a relationship involving competing rights -- the right to choose versus the right to life.

The sanctity of life is an unalienable right stated in the Declaration of Independence. The word "unborn" is a misnomer because it makes a distinction between the life of the baby in the womb and the life of the baby outside the womb.

It is important to remember that man is not the author of life, though he is essential for the procreative act that brings forth the life of a child who is, as every living person is, a vessel for life.

At the heart of the debate over healthcare rights is the question of when life begins. In answering this question, it is important to make the distinction between the four levels of being -- "kingdoms," as they used to be called -- mineral, plant, animal, and human.

The plant is higher than the mineral by the power (using the philosophical term) of life, the animal is higher than the plant by the power of consciousness, and man is higher than the animals by the power of self-awareness.

No one knows how inanimate matter became animate. So, while many scientists will argue for a theory of life as metaphorically being like a "big bang," they have no idea who lit the fuse, of how life came to be, nor can they move between the levels of being by taking that which is inanimate to life, consciousness and, finally, self-awareness.

Human life differs from the life of plants and animals by being endowed with a soul.

Animals instinctively mate to reproduce and make offspring that are the same kind as them. Human beings do not reproduce in the sense of making offspring of a like kind, a copy of themselves. Human beings are involved in procreation, bringing forth the creation of a living soul that is unique in personhood, unlike any other person who is, was, or ever will be. Every child is one of a kind.

Finally, it is not simply a question of pro-choice versus pro-life. It is a question of the procreation, of human life containing a spiritual element, a soul that is not confined by the restraints of matter.

Citizens would be denied life through the establishment of a healthcare program for American citizens that funds abortions.

Furthermore, using taxpayer money to fund abortions denies the sanctity of human life and the moral obligations of the taxpayers who see that the life they have is not their own but a gift that they are called upon to give back to God, the very Creator of our unalienable rights.


Christmas is one week from New Years, and, paradoxically, while January 1 will mark the beginning of a new year, the cycle of minutes, hours, days, and seasons will remain the same, and will not be celebrated with the same exuberance. No one will exclaim happy new Monday or "happy new" to any given moment.

The cyclical movement of time is like one gigantic boulder compressing everything in its path into layers of lifeless sediment.

Within this sediment, there is the notion that through the advancement of years, man has moved beyond his ancestors. This is readily seen in the marvels of science passed on to shoppers each Christmas in the form of iPhones or high-definition televisions promising to make life even more enjoyable and entertaining.

Sometime after New Years, we will find there is nothing novel in the novelties, and like children who have raced through opening gifts, we will wonder if there is anything more.

Meanwhile, time rolls along, and each year seems more nemesis than friend. There is never enough time to complete assignments, keep all the appointments, get children where they belong, plant corn, or put those tired feet up before it is time to get moving again. Time flies, as the saying goes, entering us in a race in which we are locked into a daily grind measured by clocks. Time is elusively tick-tocking through our fingers: We cannot hold on to a moment.

That our lives are rolling by in the cycle of time cannot be denied; however, before we are rolled under, Christmas again comes upon us. This is the season to remember that while it is natural to think the past is a memory and the future is like a formless fog, the present moment is the place to be alive.

G. K. Chesterton thought Christmas is best understood as a boomerang: The greatest of all blessings is the boomerang. And all the healthiest things we know are boomerangs -- that is, they are things that return. Sleep is a boomerang. We fling it from us at morning, and it knocks us down again at night. Daylight is a boomerang. We see it at the end of the day disappearing in the distance; and the beginnings of the next day we see it come back and break the sky.

Christmas is the apex in the arc of the flight of man's return to God. As a boomerang is designed to return to its thrower, this is the memorial festival when God became man, when the infinite became finite; it is the point from which time now is measured as Anno Domini, in the year of our Lord.

Christmas redeems the times; it frees man from the cyclical wheel and breaks him out of an accidental world where everything is dying and decomposing without resurrection.

Now is the time to remember that while we are "in" the world we are not "of" the world.

We return to old things in new times.

This is the season, in words of Thomas Merton, to see that, what is really new is what was there all the time. I say, not what has repeated itself all the time; the really "new" is that which, at every moment, springs freshly into new existence. This newness never repeats itself. Yet it is so old it goes back to the earliest beginning. It is the very beginning itself, which speaks to us.

This is why G. K. Chesterton enjoyed Christmas more when he was older than when he was a child. The joy of being older at Christmas brings back the memories of Christmas past, of remembering the dead in our lives, of the eyes that shone in every cheerful image and suggestion that the season brings with the cards and letters to and from old friends, the ritual hanging of the greens and wreaths, and the stringing of lights to create a mystical world that removes us from time. It is the joy and the hope that the bright star that shone over the manger of the entire Christian world still shines over the world and speaks to us of a new life where each moment is as festive as New Year's. So, while the cycle of minutes, hours, days, and seasons seems to remain the same, we know that each moment is a present freshly given to us in a time that does not die. *

"I have no ambition to govern men. It is a painful and thankless office." --Thomas Jefferson

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