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Alabama Supreme Court Ruling Could End Legal Abortion in America

Whose Responsibility is It?

God makes all of us to be round pegs in round holes.  In a free society if we end up a round peg in a square hole…..that’s on us.

There is no feeling worse than believing we have squandered our talents, wasted our life, and made no difference in our short time upon the world stage.  If we live in a society that chooses what, where, and how we do things it is easy to feel as if the opportunity to become who we were created to be was stolen.  However in a free society where we can choose for ourselves the responsibility for those choices as well as the freedom belongs to us.

Freedom does not merely mean that each individual bears the responsibility and the burden of choosing their path.  In a free society it also means that each individual will also receive either the praise or the blame that results from those choices.  Freedom and responsibility cannot be separated if either is to have a realistic bearing upon the individual.  If you cannot choose you are not responsible.  If you can you are.  A society cannot call itself free unless individuals ultimately occupy the positions and bear the consequences resulting from their own actions.  For that society to remain stable the individuals need to recognize that their positions and the concurrent consequences are the result of their own choices and actions.

A free society can only offer the opportunity to choose, and in a society of free agents this can only provide the chance for success.  The outcome always depends on the accidental interactions between circumstances and others.  Someone who has taken their destiny into their own hands while cognoscente of what they cannot control will concentrate their attention on what they can as if these are the only aspects of the endeavor which matter.  Circumstances and chance will either be advantageous or limiting.  Only the individual will know whether they have made the most advantageous use of either their talents or their circumstances therefore the responsibility for their actions resides with them.

In America today the knowledge of and the belief in this link between freedom and responsibility has become as rare as the honest man Diogenes spent a life time looking for.  Today victimhood has been raised to an art form.  It is inspired and rewarded by a complex system of laws and social conventions that offers praise for the helpless pawn and reviles the individual who succeeds.  Driven by the apathy and antagonism it elicits from those who accept the arguments that “You can’t fight city hall” and “It wasn’t my fault” even the word responsibility disappears from the vocabulary of motivation from the pulpit to the hustings.

The I’m OK you’re OK culture that accepts infanticide, suicide, and much else of what was once known as vice as not only morally acceptable but as civil rights flees from moralizing.  This throw-away culture elects people of the lowest morals and of the most glaring narcissism: media rock stars who rule instead of lead and who trample upon the freedoms our forefathers fought and died for.  This is not only accepted it is voted for since if our leaders are morally bankrupt it is all right for us to do whatever feels good.  If our leaders are attempting to weld the shackles of a totalitarian gulag in every sphere of life we truly are deprived of choice and are mere victims.

If you attempt to tell people that they are responsible for their choices and their conditions it will often provoke outright hostility.  These people have been taught that society has made them what they are.  It has determined their position in life and it is nothing but external circumstances that decide whether they succeed or fail.  They have rejected all responsibility because they fear it and in consequence they have rejected freedom.

In a large part this is a development that is not purely either religious or political in nature.  The rise of science and of the attempt to apply it to our understanding of humanity leads to several conclusions which are incompatible with freedom.

The first of these misapplied axioms is that everything is governed by iron-clad laws.  While this may apply to thermodynamics it does not relate in the same fashion to free agents in a free society.  Thoughts are infinite and new thoughts can always inspire new choices.  The second axiom erroneously used to understand human action is the idea of universal determinism.  The idea that all things are the inevitable consequence of prior action directed by inherently immutable outside forces precludes spontaneity and freedom of choice.  In such a system human will becomes an illusion and reality a maze with always only one way out.

Of course based on reality as experienced by everyone it has to be admitted that except on rare occasions the outcomes of human action could not be predicted and the results of particular circumstances interacting with particular individuals could not be foreseen.  However from genetics to economics from sociology to politics the belief that everything is determined by laws eliminates the space for a belief in freedom of the will and the responsibility which its operation engenders.

Those who accept the determinist position assert that it is genetics shaped by education tempered by society that constructs and controls all of us.  We are all the product of both nature and nurture and we exist within a grid designed, created, and controlled by society.  Whatever we are and whatever we become it isn’t our fault and it isn’t our choice or our effort.  This position was summed up brilliantly in the statement, “You didn’t build that.”  If you accomplished something you didn’t do it on your own just as if you fail it isn’t because of you, you’re merely a victim and as such society owes you support.

Divorced from morality and excluded from personal experience by education and an ever more regimented society responsibility has become a legal concept.  There are intricate webs of laws used to determine liability in the case of negatives while the “You didn’t build that” mentality erodes the concept of responsibility for success.  Once the link between choice and responsibility has been severed one of the major motivators for excellence has been silenced.   For the greatest significance of this fundamental concept is that a feeling of responsibility for one’s own choices is its role in guiding the decisions and actions for free people.

If nothing is ever your fault, if nothing is ever your achievement what does it matter what you choose or what you do?   If we are to be free we must bear the responsibility of that freedom or else we will search our whole life to learn whose responsibility is it.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

CONGRESSMAN RYAN: "YOU CAN'T HELP POOR PEOPLE IF ALL OF AMERICA IS POOR"

BY KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ

Paul Ryan has been taking fire on the topic of the morality of his budget, including from some Catholic bishops. He ably discusses how his budget tries to apply the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, as he did in an exchange of letters with now-Cardinal Dolan last year.

“One in six Americans are in poverty today,” Congressman Ryan told Raymond Arroyo on EWTN’s The World Over in an interview Thursday, “yet we’ve thrown so much money at these programs. Why don’t we fix these programs so that they actually work to break the cycle of poverty?”

“If we keep growing government in debt,” Ryan continued, “we will crowd out the civil society — those charities, those churches, those institutions in our local communities that do the most to actually have a human touch to help people in need. That’s what we want to empower. That’s what we want to improve on.”

Of course, the current administration seeks to even more directly crowd out some of those charities and churches, by telling them they have to violate their consciences in order to serve people.

Which is a Ryan point too: These budgetary debates “are matters for prudential judgment. . . . People of good will can have differences of opinion on these kinds of issues — there’s plenty of room to disagree about how to advance the common good, advance these principles.” That’s what the laity in public life are called to do. Ryan is not presenting himself as the poster boy for Catholic social thought, but as a Catholic in public life taking Catholic moral principles seriously. “I cannot claim exclusive justification for my political philosophy and point of view on economics using the social magisterium any more than a liberal can for theirs,” Ryan said. “We have difference of opinions about how to use these principles to the problems and policies of the day. It’s not as if we are talking about violating a core principle like life or religious liberty here.”

That last point is an important one. While these criticisms are not new, it’s hard not to see some of the attacks on the Ryan budget as a distraction from the religious-liberty battle, to make sure the bishops’ conference doesn’t look like “the Tea Party at prayer,” as one columnist coined a convenient phrase earlier this year. And it’s hard not to miss that the most prominent Catholic politician taking aim at Ryan, Connecticut congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, is a regular at abortion-rights rallies who voted against prohibiting partial-birth abortion; given that, her accusation that people will be “eviscerated” by his budget suggests a certain moral blindness.
The Arroyo interview is worth watching:The Arroyo interview is worth watching:

Ryan was also on Catholic radio this week talking budget and morality. And expect more next week from Representative Ryan on these moral matters when he speaks at Georgetown.

Liberal Hypocrisy

One of the complaints lodged against conservatives by liberals, often even by libertarians, is that in matters such as abortion, drug laws, and marriage laws “you can’t legislate morality,” they claim that though they personally oppose one or all these things, it really comes down to a personal choice of the individual and the government should stay out of it. But their hypocrisy is exposed when you talk about some of the things they want to legislate, such as requiring all to pay into government “charity” in the form of welfare, limiting access to firearms, dictating what type of medical insurance you can or must have, what kind of food your children can have, and a myriad of other “nanny state” doctrines.

This liberal ideology forces people to do and/or pay for things that they are opposed to, and takes away their personal choice. So how do they justify this? By saying it is “right,” “just,”, “fair,” meaning of course, moral. So they are perfectly willing to legislate morality, as long as it is their brand of morality. I have even heard a Christian liberal in my church say that these things are all in alignment with Christ’s command to love others and to care for them. I guess he doesn’t mind that forced charity is not charity at all, or that free will was endorsed by Christ, or that there are better ways of doing this than having the government do it.

My libertarian friends on the other hand would tend to agree with the liberals on the items in the first paragraph, and with me on the items in the second paragraph. And that is good in that it is at least consistent. However, libertarianism is pretty much “anarchy-lite;” it is basically opposed nearly all laws and to anything that presumes to define what is acceptable or unacceptable in society.

A conservative looks at all laws and taxes with a critical eye, yet they recognize that to have civil society requires some laws and the taxes to support them. All but a true anarchist agree that laws are needed to protect against violence, define protected property rights, provide for honest commerce, and protect against government abuse of personal rights. Conservatives recognize that there are legitimate reasons to have other civil laws, such as highway standards, building codes, professional certification, and traffic laws.

The real hypocrisy of saying that you can’t legislate morality is the simple fact that any law that protects people from the rule of the strongest is in fact a legislation of morality. Morality is the core basis of civilization.

When Reagan Spoke Truth to Soviet Power

The Wall Street Journal

 JANUARY 31, 2011

By PAUL KENGOR

 Who is this Neanderthal, sniffed the journalistic elite. On Jan. 29, 1981, barely a week into Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the world got a no-nonsense education on how Reagan’s America would differ from that of his predecessor. During the first press conference, ABC’s Sam Donaldson asked the new president about Moscow’s aims and intentions. Throwing diplomatic double-speak to the wind, Reagan calmly explained that the Soviet leadership had “openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is what will further their cause, meaning they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat.”

Reagan continued, explaining that the Soviets considered their relativistic behavior “moral, not immoral.” This was something that the United States needed to “keep . . . in mind” when doing “business” with Moscow. The assembled Washington press corps responded with what National Security Adviser Richard V. Allen described as “an audible gasp.”

Reagan’s rejoinder was deemed a crass outrage. The journalistic elite sniffed, Who is this Neanderthal? A Washington Post editorial lamented the “indiscriminate quality of some of the things being said.” This sudden “good-vs.-evil approach risks missing what legitimate opportunity for honorable accommodation there may be.”

In the ensuing weeks, America’s leading journalists—perplexed, offended—repeatedly pressed the new president for clarification. And so Reagan would clarify, again and again, saying of the Soviet leadership: “They don’t subscribe to our sense of morality. They don’t believe in an afterlife; they don’t believe in a God or a religion. And the only morality they recognize, therefore, is what will advance the cause of socialism.”

All this was too much for CBS Evening News. CBS’s grand old anchor, Walter Cronkite, got the opportunity to confront Reagan during a March 3 interview. Cronkite told Reagan that the president’s views seemed too “hard line toward the Soviet Union.” He noted that “there are some who . . . feel that you might have overdone the rhetoric a little bit in laying into the Soviet leadership as being liars and thieves, et cetera.”

Reagan did not back down. He noted that he had merely responded truthfully to a question from a reporter about “Soviet aims.” On that, said Reagan, “I don’t have to offer my opinion. They [the Soviets] have told us where they’re going again and again. They have told us their goal is the Marxian philosophy of world revolution and a single, one-world communist state, and that they’re dedicated to that.” The president harkened back to the Soviet version of morality: “Remember their ideology is without God, without our idea of morality in a religious sense.”

Cronkite seemed befuddled and bothered. He described Reagan’s words as “name-calling,” and he expressed concern that this would make “it more difficult” to sit down with Leonid Brezhnev and the Soviet leadership.

Yet Lenin declared in 1920: “We repudiate all morality that proceeds from supernatural ideas that are outside class conceptions. Morality is entirely subordinate to the interests of class war. Everything is moral that is necessary for the annihilation of the old exploiting social order and for uniting the proletariat.”

Reagan had it right, and he took that insight, and self-assurance, into a two-term presidency where his goal was to win the Cold War and defeat that evil system.

Alas, there was a golden moment at the end of that first press conference, unseen by the public or cameras. It was shared years later by Richard Allen. When the press conference was finished, Reagan, who recognized the weight of what had happened and was unfazed, called over to Mr. Allen and asked, with a grin: “But Dick, the Soviets do lie and steal and cheat, don’t they?”

“Yes sir, they do,” Mr. Allen replied. Reagan smiled and said, “I thought so.”

In January 1981, the world needed a leader who indeed thought so, who dared to say so, and who was willing to do something about it.

Mr. Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College, is author of “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” (Harper Perennial, 2007) and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century” (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2010) .

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