Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fighting For Responsibility

We have a serious problem in this country, but its not what you think. Forget the economy, forget unemployment, or the environment, or education or healthcare. The problem we face is much deeper, and much more dangerous. It is not limited to one particular political idealogy, and no one people group suffers from it any more then any other. Rich, poor, young, old, black, white...it doesn't matter. No one talks about it, but if we are honest, we know the level to which this problem affects us.

Recently, one of the few doctors who performs late-term abortions was murdered in a church. This, for me, has been troubling on many levels. For one, the fact that the crime was committed in a house of God bothers me. It also bothers me that, as someone who is pro-life, I will now be lumped in with extremists who believe that ideology can be imposed at gun point. I am saddened for his family that they have lost a husband, father, and grandfather. However, what troubles me the most is what comes from within me; or should I say, what is lacking within me. If I am honest with myself, I have to say that I have no feelings of sympathy or outrage that the events took place. I would never begin to try to justify murder, nor do I believe that Dr. Tiller deserved to die. The question of who dies and when really is not up to me. However, in light of the 60'000 lives snuffed out in Dr. Tiller's clinic, its very hard for me to feel sympathy or outrage when I hear that the same has happened to him.

Now, I know there will be some who will read this who will be disgusted by this or call me a facist or be otherwise disappointed in me. I understand where you come from. I write my reaction to his death as means of owning my feelings, of taking responsibility for them. I feel it is necessary to do this so I may discuss the larger point in all of this, the problem our country is facing.

Whenever something newsworthy happens related to abortion, it sparks a debate about the legality and morality of the abortion issue. It is no different today. Despite attempts by the media and by politicians to assert that abortion is a settled issue in this country, there is still passionate opposition to its practice. Pro-lifers tend to assert the morality argument that equates abortion to murder, while pro-choicers waive the Constitution and claim protection from goverment intervention into our private lives. The debate centers around what we do and do not have the right to do with our bodies. However, I believe the issue goes even deeper then that.

The choice to have an abortion, except in cases of rape or molestation (which, by the way, account for less then 1% of all abortions performed), really comes down to a simple choice. It is the answer to the question: "Do I want to take responsibilty for the poor choice I made?" Those mothers that choose to have the child, either to raise it or put it up for adoption are saying yes, I will own my choices. Those who go ahead with the procedure are not. It is really as simple as that. Abortion exists because of the larger problem in our country: a lack of personal accountability.

It goes beyond abortion. We have a failing educational system, not because we don't have enough money, but because we have teachers' unions that do not allow for a system based on merit to decide who leads a classroom and who does not. We have people on welfare who choose not work because Uncle Sam pays better then the entry level job at McDonalds. We use billions of tax payer dollars to bail out auto makers for lacking the forethought to know that you can't overpay your employees to build cars often viewed as inferior to their foreign competitors. We overtax the most productive members of society so we can "spread the wealth around," as our President would say, to those who do not achieve. All the while, we are teaching our children the lesson that, if they make a mistake, they won't have to worry about the consequences and that any trouble they may face is surely the fault of someone else.

Nietzsche once said, "Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves." Rather then battling over what rights we have, we need to change the conversation to include discussion of our responsibilities. We need to raise the level of citizenship in this country so that once again, it means something to be an American. Previous generations have had to fight and die to protect the way of life we take for granted. We owe it to them to debate not only what we can do as Americans, but also what we should do.