Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Kind of World You Want to Live In

I'd like to discuss the issue of doctors' freedom not to participate in abortion and/or prescribing contraception. The issue as it sits in Canada is summed up in this Globe article.

I am sure some of you know doctors in this position. I do.

Now, obviously, one can never be forced to violate their conscience. And these doctors mostly have well-formed consciences, both according to their Christian (often Catholic) faith, and, in the case of contraception, not only according to their faith, but according to their knowledge of medicine (the pill, etc., is not, are not, healthy, actually).

Yet - and yet is not a nevertheless or a however - yet medicine in Canada is not generally understood as the vocation of the individual, an expression of the individual's heart and talent and desire for service. In Canada, a physician is understood to be a mere cog in a medical machine. They are not individuals but government employees, administering a service. Much like a Nazi doctor. No, no amount of money, no prior commitment to upholding the policies of a system, justify violating ones conscience or doing what is intrinsically evil.

So, what is the problem? A single bad policies that violates the consciences of individual doctors, or the modern Canadian system that has no place for the individual as an individual?

The other day a 'friend' of mine on Facebook, whom I respect and generally agree with, talked about 'ending' poverty or whatever. That word makes me nervous. I am not saying that poverty is good. I am saying, however, that the presumption that evil can be ended is dangerous and inevitably inspires more harm than good.

People who want to end things trample over things that inhibit this grandiose plan, like personal freedoms. Yes, having millions of dollars while others go lacking is heinously evil. It is also heinously evil to make others conform to your idea of what should be done. Others have ideas too - have you consulted them? Their ideas might even be better than yours - have you considered that?

Ending cancer is one thing, ending hunger another. The former involves, likely, the solving of a medical mystery. The latter involves a total life-changing program to be imposed on every human being present and future. It would be more far-reaching than even China's evil program. It would have to dictate what you can eat, what work you do, how many children you can have, mandate abortion, sterilization, what kind of education you can receive... that is to say, every aspect of our lives.

Have you ever asked yourself how they elimination poverty in the Star Trek world? This is a little dark secret that we are simply supposed to ignore? This idea was at the heart of Gene Roddenberry's philosophy for Star Trek: education (i.e. scientific advancement) will bring about an end of poverty. I would like to know how it is supposed to do that? He obviously didn't have the Chinese model in mind for this. He simply assumed that when people are educated they will give up stupid prejudices like religion and other irrational ideologies that enable poverty. But if you attempt to employ the scientific method to solve the problem of poverty, what do you end up with? Something short of a free human being. Not a human being at all, says C. S. Lewis. But what's more important freedom of life? Freedom, I say without hesitation. In Roddenberry's world all the human beings just happen to all see that having children is not all that important, I guess: how many births have there ever been on all the Star Trek series combined? I can think of fewer than a dozen. And yet, the human race goes on in the future? The 'Enterprise-D' had a crew of 1000. I can remember two births on that seven or eight year series. And there were many families aboard that ship. According to Roddenberry, human beings as a whole species will just happen to see the wisdom of population control. Just happen to.
You know, "the Future," where, of course, men will be
content to wear a-sexual spandex jumpsuits,
just like women.

So, to my friend's question, are we to eliminate poverty with socialism or with freely elected charity, I say I don't like your question at all. A world with poverty is better than one without freedom. And, evidently, you can't have it both ways. At least we haven't so far. The Church has been preaching for 2000 years and it has developed a lot of good things like hospitals and religious organizations that serve the poor, but it has not eliminated poverty, not nearly. That is not possible for the reasons I have indicated above. It is only a shame when you have not lived well.

And so back to doctors in Canada. These are government functionaries. Just like professors in public universities are: they are all expected to do simply what they are told. And they do. They are not models for human beings, however. And so those two or three doctors out there who have stuck their necks out, I say, wow, you have someone kept your souls. Good for you. But you do understand what you are, right? And the problem is not one bad law. The problem is a system that turns free human being into functionaries.

The blame falls on every single person who uses phrases like "We should have a law for..." and "how do we eliminate..." You are the problem.


  1. "We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ship. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile." Lets all remember that Jean Luc Picard did resist the Borg collective. Just as we can be individuals and be proud to practice our Catholicism.

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    1. My grandfather, mom's dad, wrote a book called Medicine and the State in which he argued vociferously against state medicine. He had worked under national health in Britain and feared the same for his new country of canada. He actually debated tommy Douglas publicly on the subject. Unfortunately, Douglas was charismatic and dr. Joe lynch was filled with realms of statistics and truth that just sounded boring. It is an unfortunate system here in canada. While I love never having to pay for healthcare, I think that I would prefer a two-tiered system or one like Germany where healthcare is given over to the private sector. Good post.

  3. It is this globalized, nationalized, communized, conformism that is very inhuman. Trade your soul in and get some condoms.