Opening the BoxRights Reason & Religion — By cmulready on March 31, 2009 at 1:09 pm
In many ways a discussion on the nature of life is a tricky thing. This is because, as Lang points out, such questions are huge and answering them “correctly” requires more time and room than we here have. Still, as Lang has bravely offered her thoughts on this natural right and the implications for a government whose stated purpose is the protection of this right, I will do my best.
In short, our right to life is simply that: we have the right to live. This is a right endowed to us by the Creator, and as our life springs from His original miracle, it is deserving of our protection. We are created equal in our capacity and possession of this right; in that sense, it is inalienable. For all mankind, this is a fundamental right, one that cannot be taken from us justly without cause. As with all rights, this right can be revoked if our actions warrant it; but that is a matter of the law, and not one that should ever be determined based on the convenience of others.
We take the time to state this seemingly obvious reality because, as our generation bears witness, sometimes even obvious injustices are overlooked in favor of the convenience of others. The weak and the helpless, old and the new, require that we enumerate this right, to prevent the tyranny of the strong from abusing them for our own needs. We must insist that the law uphold the legitimate claim to life that these demographics possess, and advocate for them in the absence of justice under the law. We cannot state this strongly or plainly enough; the cause of the unborn (and the disabled and elderly) is the most basic and fundamental responsibility of our government. A government that permits abortion on demand is a government where the right to life is conditional at best, never inalienable.
Up to this point, unless I am greatly mistaken, Lang and I are in complete agreement. It is, unfortunately, at this point that our paths must part; for while we agree that the right to life is the responsibility of the government to protect, I cannot unequivocally assent to the argument that “A system that promotes exploitation cannot claim to be a system that fosters the right to life.”
I should pause; I would assent to that, if I could then assert that the suggestion that our government is such a system is at least mostly flawed. Such a system would represent a failure to protect the right to life, as Lang’s personal anecdote bears witness. If the default position of the government was to allow the people to live at the mercy of corporations for the simple purpose of allowing as many big companies to make money as possible, then yes, the government would have failed in it’s sacred trust to we, the people.
However, it is not so.
I am not in Fairy Land, and I have no delusions that the people do not suffer abuse from big companies; I have worked in corporate America (in insurance, actually) and I too read the news. We all know that Big Business is very susceptible to greedy corruption, and we all agree that if possible, the government should do it’s best to prevent those business’ from grossly exploiting the people. This has been a true Conservative postion throughout the last Century; after all TR was no friend to business tycoons.
The unfortunate reality of the sort of regulation that would be required to ensure that we all receive a fair shake from the big corporations is that it would put the state into a tyrannical position it was never intended to occupy. Ultimately, we face a choice; to run the risk of personal corruption for the sake of allowing for personal excellence. The argument that “Minimal government oversight and restricted government involvement may spell freedom for some, but will inevitably mean tyranny for others, usually those with the least chance of obtaining justice.” seems to forget that if the government expands oversight and restriction, we will assuredly have tyranny for all in the form of a government that has deemed itself capable of discerning what is best for us all.
Since not even God Himself, who does know what is best for us, has forced humanity to accept governance that would eliminate injustice, the argument in favor of entrusting a body of politicians with that power seems overly optimistic to say the least.
Our government protects our right to life, in conjunction with the other inalienable rights, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To protect these three, deemed equally inalienable by our founders, requires a government which balances the need for oversight with the need to get out of our way; one cannot be said to be the proper possessor of these rights if the government is perpetually in the position of manipulating society to produce an environment of artificial of social equality. We should pity those who have less than we do; but the government should not make it It’s business to ensure that we practice virtue.
Finally, I alluded to this earlier; I do believe the government can strip us of our inalienable rights if our behavior warrants it. How do we determine what behavior warrant’s such a punishment? Capital crimes; murder, rape; I am fairly traditional when it comes to this question. Once again, the power to forgive is reserved for we the people; individuals may practice mercy and pity. The state exists so that I don’t need to take up the sword in my own defense; if I am wronged, I need to be able to count on appropriate justice being served for the crime committed. It seems criminally wrong that we allow convicted criminals sentenced to death to live on the money of law-abiding tax-payers as they try to search for any loop-hole in the legal process that ended in their sentence for years on end; or that we shoud prefer the sentence of life in prison over the death penalty because it often better accomplishes the goal of keeping the convicted criminal away from the populace.
I do not think we should relish the deaths of anyone, even the worst criminals. I have taken a long road to get to this position; like Lang, my natural tendency is to reach for the sword rather than the Bible when I see injustice. However, I do believe my first duty is to reach for the Bible; and thus my argument is that, as this is my duty, it is entirely appropriate to recognize what the responsibility of the state is, with regard to balancing the scales of justice.
I have been thinking about this post for too long, which is part of the reason it has taken so long to get it on-line. It is a difficult topic; I have no delusions that I have offered the best answer; merely my best thoughts on a hard subject. ‘