Friday, January 23, 2009

Stubborness and stupidity are twins


Sophocles, in Antigone 1. 1023, says, "Stubborness and stupidity are twins." How so? Dr. Montague Brown explains as he makes the distinction between tenacity and stubborness: "Tenacity is the dedicated adherence to something we know to be worthwhile. As such, tenacity is positive. It involves a clear purpose - to persevere in what is good - and welcomes new evidence and perspectives that clarify or enrich that good...Tenacity is particularly evident when the adherence required is difficult. If my perseverance requires great effort of body or mind, or if it requires me to face a great deal of peer pressure and perhaps even ridicule, then my holding fast to my good purpose shows strength of mind and courage. In such cases, there may be little to gain in terms of social standing, but much in moral standing. Tenaciously holding to what is true and good not only benefits me in terms of virtue; it also works to ensure the stability of these goods in the community....Stubborness is the uncompromising insistence on having our own way. As such, stubborness is negative. It involves a kind of blindness, along with a willful rejection of evidence and the perspectives of others. Stubborness is particularly evident when the compromise required is easy. If the evidence I need to convince me to change my mind is readily available, or if accepting another's perspective would mean giving up little of importance, then my refusal to yield is not reasonable, but is motivated by stubborness. There is little to lose except my desire to be in control. Such rigid clinging to my own will hurts the community, because I refuse to cooperate with others, and it also prevents me from becoming successful and virtuous." (Dr. Montague Brown, Ph.D, The One-Minute Philosopher, pp. 162-163, Sophia Institute Press).

Newsmax is reporting that Pope Benedict XVI telephoned President Obama after the election to congratulate him on his victory. When our Holy Father brought up the subject of abortion, President Obama said simply, "We agree to disagree." How profound. But what exactly is the point on which President Obama disagrees with Pope Benedict XVI? When human life begins? As Dr. & Mrs. J.C. Willke explain in their book "Why can't we love them both: questions and answers about abortion," "Biologic human life is defined by examining the scientific facts of human development. This is a field where there is no controversy, no disagreement. There is only one set of facts, only one embryology book is studied in medical school. The more scientific knowledge of fetal development that has been learned, the more science has confirmed that the beginning of any one human individual's life, biologically speaking, begins at the completion of the union of his father's sperm and his mother's ovum, a process called "conception," "fertilization," or "fecundation." This is so because this being, from fertilization, is alive, human, sexed, complete and growing."

In his Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II said that: "Some people try to justify abortion by claiming that the result of conception, at least up to a certain number of days, cannot yet be considered a personal human life. But in fact, "from the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already. This has always been clear, and ... modern genetic science offers clear confirmation. It has demonstrated that from the first instant there is established the programme of what this living being will be: a person, this individual person with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization the adventure of a human life begins, and each of its capacities requires time-a rather lengthy time-to find its place and to be in a position to act". Even if the presence of a spiritual soul cannot be ascertained by empirical data, the results themselves of scientific research on the human embryo provide "a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of the first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person?" (No. 60).

Or does President Obama mean to suggest that not all human life has value and is, therefore, disposable?

Is President Obama really interested in truth? Or is he more concerned with power and control? Is he being tenacious or stubborn? As we meditate on this question, let's again consider the words of Dr. Brown, professor of philosophy at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire: "Tenacity is a firm choice of the will guided by objective value; stubborness is a firm choice of the will guided by the subjective desire to be right." (op. cit).

3 comments:

Michelle said...

Since Obama refuses to acknowledge the medical and scientific facts, he is engaging in stubborness. He is doing a disservice to the community. He is doing harm to the common good.

Wendy said...

Picture this scenario: A Nazi concentration camp commandant has ordered one of his subordinates to carry out an execution. A small child is to be lined up against a wall and killed by firing squad. Another prisoner pleads for the child's life, arguing that all human life is sacred. The commandant replies, "We must agree to disagree."

The commandant is not the one who pulls the trigger. Is he thereby less culpable? Will he not be judged by God on his lack of respect for human life? Will not his stubborness and his refusal to acknowledge the sanctity of all human life merit hell?

Jonathan said...

Already Obama is creating turmoil and division:

Washington DC, Jan 23, 2009 / 05:48 am (CNA).- More than 100 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he withdraw his campaign pledge to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and other pro-abortion rights laws.

FOCA is legislation designed to protect abortion rights even if the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade is overturned. It threatens to abolish existing minimal state and federal restrictions on abortion and could even threaten the rights of Catholic hospitals to refuse to perform abortions.

The Republicans’ Jan. 21 letter, which was signed by House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and 104 other House members, “respectfully urged” President Obama to withdraw his pledge to sign FOCA.

During his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama told a July 2007 gathering of Planned Parenthood Action Fund “the first thing I'd do as president is to sign FOCA”

The letter from the Republicans claimed that “in one tragic act,” FOCA would “overturn virtually all pro-life laws nationwide.”

It also urged the president to refuse to support legislation that “incrementally enacts the FOCA agenda” by rescinding or weakening existing pro-life laws in a piecemeal fashion.

Noting the Jan. 22 anniversary of the Supreme Court pro-abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade, the letter said that laws such as the prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortions have been enacted to “mitigate the effects of the decision on unborn babies and their mothers.”

The Republicans’ letter also quoted the Nov. 12 remarks of Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), whose statement to Obama spoke on behalf of all U.S. bishops.

As quoted in the Republicans’ letter, Cardinal George said FOCA would “deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars.”

It would also have “lethal consequences for prenatal human life” and have “an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children,” Cardinal George commented.

The Republicans’ letter to President Obama continued: “We ask that you reject this divisive agenda,” referring to the one lamented by Cardinal George.

The politicians assert that FOCA will not reduce abortions, but rather do the opposite, citing two studies as evidence.

The first, by Michael J. New, reportedly found that the minor abortion rate falls by 19 to 31 percent after parental involvement laws are enacted.

The second, conducted by Heather D. Boonstra and published in the Guttmacher Policy Review, reportedly found that 18 to 35 percent of Medicaid patients who would have had an abortion continue their pregnancies when Medicaid will not pay for their abortion.

“Restrictions on funding for abortion save lives and protect the consciences of millions of Americans who do not want their tax dollars to be used to destroy innocent human life,” the Republicans said in their letter.

Citing President Obama’s expressed desire to unite Americans, the letter continued: “…too much is at stake for this divisive and destructive legislation to move forward and life-saving laws to be rolled back.”

“We respectfully urge you to withdraw your pledge to sign FOCA,” the letter concluded, again asking that the president also not sign legislation that “incrementally” enacts FOCA.

The change we need? Or the same old tired liberal Democratic agenda which has divided this country for some 40 years?

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