Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Obama, McCain and the abolition of man

Since several people have taken issue with my non-support for both of our fine presidential candidates, I figured I'd expand on my reasoning a bit and answer a few objections.

Here's my fundamental concern: Both Barack Obama and John McCain are unwitting (I hope) advocates of what C.S. Lewis referred to as "the abolition of man." Their positions on abortion and embryonic stem cell research, in light of their beliefs about the beginning of life, don't just mean death for millions of tiny humans; they mean the death of human morality and, thus, of humanity itself.

If you say, as Senator McCain essentially does, "Yes, an embryo is a living human being with human rights, but it's OK to kill it if there's a good reason," that's not the first step down a slippery slope. That's leaping off a precipice. Once you say that deliberately taking innocent human life is acceptable in certain situations, morality is over.

The inalienable right to life is the most basic of all human rights. It's the foundation upon which all other rights stand. Start justifying exceptions to this absolute law, and the whole edifice of morality comes crashing down, not gradually, but in an instant. Gone.

It may take a while for people to notice. The building still looks pretty sturdy.

But it's an illusion, a trick of the mind. There's nothing there. We're debating a mirage. Without certain absolute values, there is no morality, no right or wrong, no good or bad.

And what used to be humanity is left to be governed by animal desires and brute force.

Am I being hysterical, over-dramatic? I hope so. But I don't see how to escape the conclusion.

So yeah, I don't want to support either Obama or McCain, because I think they're both extraordinarily scary candidates. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tells me that, as a Catholic, I'm under no obligation to support either of them. Plus, I live in Washington state, where even if I could vote 100,000 times for either candidate I wouldn't affect the outcome.

For the record, I do think it's morally legitimate to vote for the lesser of two evils with the intention of limiting evil. I imagine I'll do it many times in my life. But not this year. I don't want either Obama or McCain to see my vote in their column and get the idea that I support their vision.

I'm not just shirking my civic duty. I plan to write letters to both Senator Obama and Senator McCain to let them know why they won't be receiving my vote. They'll never personally read them, of course, but I've got to think a letter is significantly more impactful than a single ballot. And I'll vote for some quixotic candidate whose hand I wouldn't be hesitant to shake.

Writing this post has left me in rather a dark mood. I don't like to think too deeply about the state of the world. In times like these it's good to remember the words of Jesus: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).


Curious said...

How does support of the birth control pill, which is an abortificiant, differ from support of embryonic stem cell research? In other words, could you have voted for any Dem/Republican presidential candidate over the past 40 years?

Kristin said...

what do you think of this article? http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=11166&comments=1

(yes, i've already been told that America is an unorthodox Catholic magazine - talk about oxymoron).

i wrote a letter to obama. and i still plan to vote. (and i've already been through several angsty weeks of back-and-forth [voting for obama vs. not voting]). anyway the article helps dstill some of the angsty thoughts for me, at least.

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