Sunday, November 9, 2014

Means And Ends: A Rumination Through Fiction

For this morning, a brief story about morality through teleology.

     “But surely,” she said, “the context is what determines the rightness or wrongness of a deed. Even the Church concedes that, isn’t it so?”
     He nodded warily. “There are such cases, though I’m not certain that there’s a context that could justify some deeds. Genocide, for example.”
     She waved it aside. “That’s an extreme case. I’m thinking of more mundane decisions. Do you ever wonder about resource exhaustion? What with the population of the Earth now at seven billion—”
     He held up a hand. “Stop right there. I can see the course this conversation will take.”
     She shook her head, determined to press onward. “This is serious enough to merit even your consideration. Imagine a time a century or two from now, when the population of the world has reached twenty billion...thirty billion...God alone knows how many people. All near to starvation, all ready to kill and die for the last hunk of rotten meat or stale bread. All huddling together for warmth, with the fossil fuels gone and no replacements in sight. Facing the extinction of the human race should even a few more of us be born to stress what little remains to sustain us. With every wise man, every authority on Earth in agreement that more human beings is the one thing we cannot afford, wouldn’t you say that in that context abortion would be morally justified?”
     He smiled wanly and shook his head. “Absolutely not.”
     “Good God,” she cried, exasperated to her limits, “why not?
     “Tell me, Sue,” he said, “how often have you been wrong?”
     “Huh? I’m not—”
     “How often have the ‘wise men’ of our race been wrong? How many times have they championed error even when the refutation was right before their eyes? How many times have they insisted that there must be an explanation, that God Himself has decreed what they believe to be the...the gospel truth?” He winced against the pain of her scenario and pressed a hand to his forehead, desperate to be anywhere but where he stood.
     Her mouth fell open, but she did not speak.
     “Context can only exempt a deed from the moral law when it involves making or defending justice,” he said. “It’s licit to steal your rightful property back from the thief who stole it from you. It’s licit to deceive a man to deflect him from doing unmerited harm to another. And it’s licit to kill one who has forfeited his right to life by killing an innocent. But none of those contexts apply to a baby in the womb. That is an innocent life, whose taking nothing can justify.”
     “Are you saying,” she whispered, “that to allow that baby to be born even if it would doom everyone else on Earth to death by starvation would be an act of justice? That the rest of us would have earned such a fate?”
     “I’m saying,” he continued on wearily, “that however many billions of us there were could not hold that baby responsible for their condition. Regardless of whether our fates hung on his extinction. Nothing else. Besides,” he said, “what if all those ‘wise men’ and ‘authorities’ proved to be wrong? What would you say to that baby and his mother then?”
     She gaped silently at him, emptied of words at last. He nodded and walked on.

May God bless and keep you all.


Pascal Fervor said...

Thanks Fran. That comes as close to what I'm looking to see tackled as anything else in fiction.

The moral aspects of "we're all on this ship together" and yet each of us still retains our basic human right to life, needs reinforcement.

Those who clandestinely steer by the fad morality founded on Malthusianism have been slowly, incrementally, abrogating our Judeo-Christian morality that deems human life is sacred and deserving of protection from, not predation by, the state.

I've met too many people, Dem, GOP, whatever, who speak like that young woman in your story. Discovering successful antipodes to such fatalistic and immoral propaganda is my most fervent wish.

Anonymous said...

My dear brother Francis, I may have just read what is likely most descriptive of the "thought process" (if it can be termed that...) of the liberal bent, I have ever read. Concise, and yet tragically close to the mark. "That" is indeed how "they think..." Almost too easy to blame the innocent, to treat the symptom rather than the disease....stormfriend

Reg T said...

And the Left believes that, for the "common good", to support the collective, it is all right for a majority to make an individual a slave, to take all that he has, including his freedom. That we, as individuals, have no rights if those rights interfere with the agenda of the group.

As we have seen, the "majority" is often as few as 15% of the populace at large, based on a low voter turn out, and abetted by a bit of voter fraud. How lovely to lose our rights, our property, and even our lives to the will of a few (not that even an actual majority would make it moral or correct).