Recently Attorney General Janet Reno told 1,400 Alumnae at Radcliffe College that gun violence in our nation's schools would require a change in America's culture. She was awarded the Radcliffe Medal for her leadership. Shortly after, she announced she was overruling the Drug Enforcement Administration's plans to prevent physicians from dispensing drugs for “assisted suicide.” She has decided that her justice department will not use federal drug control laws to prevent “physicians” from poisoning their patients and killing them if it can be shown that they only have six months to live.
That same day, Chinese “dissident” (freedom fighter) Wei Jingsheng testified before the U.S. House Committee on International Relations. He presented proof that the Chinese regime is killing prisoners, prior to their scheduled execution date, in order to remove their organs for sale. Soon after, Jack Kevorkian announced that he had some kidneys available from a 45-year-old whose death he “attended.” It seems the man was shot 21 years ago and, like Christopher Reeve, was left without the use of arms and legs. Unlike Reeve, however, this man was not encouraged to live a productive life, but rather to kill himself. All this in the name of “choice.”
Now, let me ask, is there an eerie congruence of events here, or have I missed something? We have the chief law enforcement officer of the leader of the free world, in effect, opening the doors to the wholesale killing of disabled, depressed, and elderly people through the distribution of a new hemlock. This is followed by news that the leader of this macabre effort to legalize death on demand, Jack Kevorkian, is now cutting organs out of a 45-year-old man who, rather than being talked out of suicide, was given a poison potion. Finally, the U.S. Congress hears testimony that the regime oppressing the Chinese people not only forces abortions and sterilizations, represses people of faith, jails champions of democracy … but now also harvests body parts for sale. Are we far behind? Will we see a retail network for this “new” market in America as well? Are we far from body harvesting in the name of “choice”?
The attorney general had it right at Radcliffe. We do need a change of culture in America. Only, she is on the wrong side. The epidemic of violence among our children is only one more bad fruit from the decay of our culture precipitated by poor leadership.
Kevorkian, emboldened by the state's inability to stop him from killing, mockingly proclaimed “They're calling this unethical, just like they call everything unethical.” How hollow are words when our actions betray our lack of moral, courageous, principled leadership.
A nation birthed by a declaration that recognized inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is being led astray by the proponents of an ideology of death, libertine license, and debauchery. Our current epidemic of violence begins in the silence of the womb where we continue to dismember, burn and, in the case of partial birth abortions, suck the brains out of our children calling our actions “freedom of choice.” It is promoted by a dominant media culture that cheapens life, disregards human dignity, disdains family, and cheapens the gift of sexuality. It is promoted by leaders who proclaim they “feel our pain” when their ideology promotes it. Finally, at life's end, this immoral leadership may soon, if not replaced, promote human body shops as a profane expression of the market at work. A market economy without the moral infusion of truth and a respect for human dignity, will market anything including death.
Is it any wonder that our children are confused? Is it any surprise that we continue to trade internationally with a regime in Beijing that openly promotes a culture of death and a disregard for basic human rights? Are we not currently walking down the same path as that regime being led by the pied pipers of self-ism and materialism dressed in the language of “free choice”? Where are the leaders of the third millennium?
In an address at Camden Yards in Baltimore in 1995, Pope John Paul II reminded all Americans: “Surely it is important for America that the moral truths which make freedom possible should be passed on to each new generation. Every generation of America needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”
Moral leadership is about the “oughts” of our life as individuals, and our life together as a nation. America is desperately in need of moral leaders. The issues we currently face are not easily categorized as “liberal” or “conservative,” Democrat or Republican. They are, rather, issues that are foundational to our continuation as a free people. They concern our obligations to one another, to our children, to our elders, and to the least among us. They also have great implications for our international relations.
“From those to whom much is given, much more will be required” reads the biblical text. It's a principle of truth whether one professes religious faith or not. We are all accountable for what we have been given. In this nation we cherish, we have been given the greatest legacy of freedom. We dare not sacrifice this legacy at the altar of self-ism.
America needs moral leadership for a new millennium. Who will answer the call?
Deacon Keith Fournier is president of Catholic Alliance, a Catholic voter movement dedicated to life, family, authentic freedom, and charity.
- June 21-27, 1998