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Pied Pipers on the Right?

10/26/2002 - 8:00 AM PST

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© Third Millennium, LLC
By Deacon Keith A. Fournier

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Has the “conservative right” lost sight of the obligation of solidarity?

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Faith & Culture is a regularly featured column exploring the obligations of faithful citizenship and the implications of the teaching of the Church on Christian participation in public service, public life, and public policy.

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It was 10 o'clock at night, and I was dreadfully tired. The fog and drizzle didn’t help in my effort to keep my eyes on the road. So, I turned to talk radio. The newest “Rush wanna-be” was on a roll. Not only reflecting the trend in such shows toward the near idolatry of the autonomous self, this guy was rather flagrant about his complete libertarian convictions.

His topic was the legalization of prostitution and drugs. He made it clear—when it comes to “victimless crime” (his words), government should stay out and leave people “free.”

Free for what?

Free to denigrate women and engage in a stream of commerce that has as its object the promotion of the human body as an object to be used? Free to entice children into a life of slavery to a substance as lethal as a bomb?

“What’s next?” I shouted in the eerie silence of an empty car. “Slavery?”

Well, the answer is an inevitable yes—either literally or figuratively. These folks are pied pipers on the right. They are gaining ground, and they are luring lovers of authentic freedom into the camp.

This same counterfeit notion of freedom not only spawned the slave trade (which still continues unabated in the Sudan—while the regime watches), but also kept it out of the reach of sane legislation for decades. It currently promotes the arguments (right and left) supporting the horrible infanticide known as partial birth abortion. You know, "after all, it is a private decision."

Is it any surprise that the opponents of outlawing the partial delivery of a child in order to suction out her brains have successfully reframed their infamy under the banner of this understanding of a "freedom" to choose?

As I listened on, I found myself caught up in a flurry of emotions—ranging from anger to despair. Like most boomers, my relief from such intense moments is often drawn from my past saturation in the music of the sixties and seventies. Those who are already over forty-five know what I mean.

Instantly, the words of a song by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young flooded my mind, and I began to sing: “Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground.” The truth of the phrase helped me overcome the anger and rededicate myself to the cause of true freedom.

We still do find the cost of freedom buried in the ground. It is there in the blood of those who gave their lives for its flourishing.

They understood that authentic human freedom is both a "freedom for" and a "freedom from." It is not a "freedom" to do whatever we choose, but to do what is right. Freedom must be connected to truth. True freedom respects the authentic rights of others and the obligations of human solidarity.

We are free to choose—that is what makes us human persons—but we are not free to make the objects of our choice good or evil, right or wrong. Our freedom is patterned after the One who created us free.

The true definition and application of freedom is the great struggle of our age. In fact, it will define our future. Some of the great prophetic voices of our age are speaking to this issue with great clarity. One is John Paul II, whose prophetic writings have warned of "the death of true freedom" and of a "counterfeit notion of freedom" which misunderstands the principle of a rightful “independence” autonomy by failing to grasp the obligation of solidarity –our dependence. At root it “misses the mark” (which is the literal definition of sin) by denying the fundamental truth that we were made for family and for social community- we can only fully become “human” in what John Paul II regularly calls the “sincere gift of self” to others.

There is a real problem emerging? Too few people, particularly Christians, are reading or listening as the Church defends the truth in this absolutely essential area!

Instead, they listen to the pied pipers (like this radio personality) who seek to borrow authority through a lavish praise of Rush Limbaugh and an appeal to "conservatism."

How sad.

Like many Christians, I seem to have awakened one morning to be labeled a "conservative," because I believed in the dignity of all human life, the primacy of the family, and good government.

But I did not sign up for this ride!

Even sadder is the fact that ...

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