Revanchist Review

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Trudging to Complacency

I am privileged to have as a friend Dr. Will Johnston who in addition to operating a busy family practice in Vancouver, is the President of Canadian Physicians for Life (“CPL”). CPL’s goal is to educate the Canadian public on the negative side-effects and consequences to a mother who chooses abortion over childbirth in Canada. By elevating the consciousness of the public to these issues, it is the hope of CPL that fewer women will succumb to the pressures of society and the relationships around them to have an abortion.

Johnston is above all a pragmatist and he concedes that presently there is no democratic mandate in Canada to outlaw abortion. As a social and political conservative, he is also prepared to accept that the current government has no interest in revisiting the abortion issue. His experience as a family physician has been that of witnessing how much happier mothers were with their babies a year after a pregnancy crisis, compared to women who had gone ahead and had an abortion.

In a recent interview, Johnston made the powerful point about how inconsistently the liberal left has been with regard to the human rights issue, under whose banner the pro-choice movement has held sway for decades in Canada. On the one hand the left has no problem seeing it is wrong to discriminate against an entire class of people whether they be Jews or blacks, but they don’t recognize a huge class of people who happen to be very small and inside their mother’s body.

It is indeed regrettable that an environment does not yet exist in Canada where a reasoned debate about the merits of having no law whatsoever to regulate the practice of abortion in this country can take place. This is particularly of concern when the biological and medical community has long since resolved the contention that originally dominated the discussion over abortion– when does human life begin?

Informed pro-abortion advocates no longer dispute the fact that the fetus is human life. The argument in favour of abortion is predicated solely on the right of the mother to choose whether or not to allow her child to be born. The moral and political dispute is now over which human beings, at whatever rate of development or decline, possess rights that we are bound to respect.

Since 1973 over 40 million abortions have been performed in the United States. From 1970 to 2002 there were reported over 2.5 million abortions in Canada. This is a sobering statement of our society’s attitude toward the respect due to the defenceless unborn.

A group of Catholic and Protestant Evangelicals has recently issued a Statement entitled That They May Have Life. In it they make the case for a “culture of life” and to do so in a way that invites public deliberation and engages in questions of public policy. “To those who do not identify with our communities, or with any Christian community, we respectfully suggest that it is in our mutual interest that they try to understand better the reasons and convictions that have recruited so many millions of their fellow citizens to the cause of the culture of life. Greater understanding does not necessarily lead to agreement, but it at least makes possible a more civil engagement of our disagreements.”

The statement further “plead(s) with our fellow citizens who do not accept the authority of God’s commandments or the good news that is the gospel of life to consider the consequences of having created a license to kill. In the present state of our tragically disordered law (referring to the US, in Canada’s case we simply have no law), citizens are given, in the case of abortion, a private “right” to kill those who are too young, too small, too handicapped, too burdensome, or, for whatever reason, not “wanted”. When this right and the lethal logic that supports it is established in law, there is no principled reason why it should not be applied to the “unwanted” at any point along life’s way, as advocates of eugenics, euthanasia, and assisted suicide logically contend.”

These are sobering thoughts, and what does it say about the maturity of our Canadian society that we have no will to engage in a public debate over the consequences of our pursuit of happiness through the granting of rights as sinister as the death of a defenceless unborn child.

In search of a better understanding of why our fecklessness over the issue of abortion is yet another example of the complacency that seems to overwhelm us here in Canada when it comes to matters that seriously affect the state of health of our culture, I was enormously aided by these words of Irving Babbitt in Democracy and Leadership.

“No movement, indeed, illustrates more clearly than the supposed democratic movement the way in which the will of highly organized and resolute minorities may prevail over the will of the inert and unorganized masses. Even though the mass does not consent to ‘trudge’ after the minority, it is at an increasing disadvantage in its attempts to resist it.”

I am convinced that the majority of Canadians does not approve of the unfettered right of a woman to kill her unborn child, yet we continue to behave in a way that seems to lend truth to Goethe’s statement that “there is nothing more odious than a majority, for it consists of a few powerful leaders, a certain number of accommodating scoundrels and subservient weaklings, and a mass of men who trudge after them without in the least knowing their own minds.”

We need to support the efforts of people like Will Johnston to better inform and educate the "mass of men" so that they might know their own minds and stand up and voice their opposition to actions of the organized and resolute minorities.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Case for the Office of Censor

My submission to then Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler several months ago in which I sought an appointment to the Supreme of Court of Canada having met with no success, I have decided to lobby for the creation of a new office in Canada, one that in all humility I am willing to fill for the initial term.

The official name of the new bureaucracy will be the Canadian Censorship Farrago (“CCF”). It seems like a winning acronym. I shall be the Commisar of the CCF. I look forward to watching Jack Layton and Libby Davies attack the CCF in question period. But I digress.

It’s not that I am bored with my life here in the Cowichan Valley. I spent about 4 hours today moving rocks from one part of the property to another. Their original resting places were farrago-like, hence the inspiration for the name of my new sinecure. With a modest amount of effort and very little skill I was able to rearrange them in a rather attractive pattern to line a small watercourse that traverses our property and which, should it ever rain here on the island, will someday soon be transformed from an inert depression in the earth to a vibrant babbling brook.

Boredom is not my enemy. Rather, it is too much time to think that leads me to conjure up these quixotic solutions to what seems to ail our contemporary life. Moving rocks allows for a considerable amount of thinking to take place. Sisyphus was most assuredly a very thoughtful fellow.

Why censorship you might ask? In answering this I imagine myself seated across from my most secular, liberal, humanist friend as she raises her eyebrows and asks with genuine love and affection if I have lost my way. There is always the possibility that she and others who share her worldview and who have been exposed to my scribblings no longer even bother to read them, while those who do share them continue to encourage me to write. I will humour myself into thinking that my audience is not overly monolithic.

The need for censorship seems to me to be self-evident to anyone exposed to television, films, newspapers and popular music. This would appear to embrace the entire spectrum of the denizens of Canada ( I avoid the word citizens, since so many of them don't even live here, except Conrad Black who lives here but isn't a citizen though wishes he were - it is so confusing). So if the size of one’s audience lends even a soupcon of legitimacy to one’s message my CCF would appear to stand on solid ground.

I imagine my friend as restless in her chair, poised to burst the bubble of my fantasy with the argument that even the most generous characterization of my offer is that I wish to be some well-intentioned philistine, one who is not qualified to distinguish between the sacred and the profane, the artistic and the obscene. My true intention she would argue is only to impose a stifling, judgmental, holier-than-thou collar upon artists and thinkers.

There is that risk of course, and I can offer nothing more than my good intentions and my reliance upon my innate gift of unconscious competence. This combined with a humble recognition of my own sinfulness constitutes the foundations of my curriculum vitae. (Sin is such a foreign word and even more foreign concept these days, that I recently sat through an entire sermon on a critical New Testament passage on the consequences of sin without ever hearing the word spoken)

So I must concede to my friend that I believe that true freedom is possible only through constraints. I see her eyes roll back as she suspects I am one of those who loves constraints as long as I get to impose them. I assure her I am willing to live by the same constraints as those my rulings as Commissar would impose on others.

My objective is that under the aegis of the CCF, Canadian society would gradually become a place where one might witness more examples of honourable behaviour. Shame would no longer be a taboo, but would become a natural reaction for most Canadians when confronted with the targets of my censorious edicts.

I believe that it is salutary for one to wish to become honourable, and that David B. Hart has it right when he says that it is “precisely through accepting freely the constraints of a larger social and moral tradition and community, one gives shape to a character that can endure from moment to moment, rather than dissolving in each instant into whichever new inclination of appetite or curiosity rises up within one. Once ceases to be governed by caprice, or to be the slave of one’s own liberty”.

I don’t expect that my term of office will be smooth, nor will I expect to rack up many qualifying years in the generous pension fund to which I would be entitled as a federal civil servant. If the Liberals win the next election I might not have time to do much except substitute the Turner Classic Movie channel for most of the television programming between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Friday nights. I wouldn’t mess with the Trailer Park Boys as I believe that consciously or not there is a Flannery O’Connor-like message underpinning the themes of this popular Canadian comedy. A message that Grace is a two edged sword and is often displayed in the most unlikely situations, and through the actions of the least likely characters.

To tell the truth, I expect to fail and for all my effort and competence, unconscious or otherwise, I won’t make a mark on the face of Canadian society. For I live in a society as near as my local community and as far reaching as this former dominion ranging from sea to sea ( a Canadian slogan apparently derived from Psalm 72 v.8)

I live in a country where we have come to believe that as Hart puts it “ it is the power of the arbitrary in ourselves and others that defines for us at once our dignity and political freedom” and so “we cannot really alter the course of the nation at all, or even properly imagine what kind of political or social future we should want, so long as we fail to remember (and to fashion our lives according to the knowledge) that we exist only because there is One who has called us from nothingness to be what He desires us to be, not simply what we would like to make ourselves, and that we shall truly be free – and know what freedom is – only when we have no choices left”.

Does anyone know a cheap place where I can have printed my “Bring Back the CCF” buttons?