Peter Day. Life is sacred, but ….

The “other” is no longer a brother or sister to be loved, but simply someone who disturbs my life and my comfort … In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference.  We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!      (Pope Francis)

I had the misfortune recently of watching the Four Corners investigation into live-baiting in the greyhound industry – trainers were filmed using live rabbits, piglets and possums to instil the blood lust in dogs in order to improve their chasing/racing skills.

I imagine there will be – it’s already started – an almighty avalanche of anger directed towards those who pursue cruelty in order to benefit financially – and justifiably so.

Life is sacred – even the lives of rabbits, possums, and piglets.

Similarly, there is an almighty howl of protest concerning the pending executions of drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran – and justifiably so.

Life is sacred – even the lives of drug traffickers.

And, what of those forgotten children in Australian immigration detention centres: again, much angst and chest beating – and justifiably so.

Life is sacred – even the lives of ‘illegals’ and strangers and ‘queue jumpers’.

Perhaps one day the mainstream media and the public might dare to pursue, also with moral courage, the plight of the unborn; tens of thousands of whom disappear without trace each year – I’m especially concerned for those victims of late-term abortions (i.e. 16 weeks and beyond).

Life is sacred – even the lives of the tiny and ‘unseen’.

In regards to the latter, a notoriously emotive and neuralgic issue, it is vital that we do not allow the bullying of religious nutters and moralists to justify a “we cannot afford to go there” approach – to justify shutting down debate.

Indeed, is it not the case that in order to counter this rigid and unattractive polemic, and to ensure I am not seen to be in their camp; we have, as a collective, tended to gravitate towards the more comfortable and acceptable narrative of the so called ‘social progressives’; the one that espouses tolerance and individual freedom; the one that encourages a polite acquiescence – but at what price and at whose expense?

Surely, in a world where whales and rabbits and old trees and heritage buildings are treated as precious, as of significant value – and rightly so, there is room for a mainstream and adult conversation about those other forgotten children.

I am not in any way suggesting yet another unseemly finger-pointing exercise, nor am I advocating criminalisation. Indeed, compassion compels one to want to walk alongside a woman confronting such a choice, even to cry with her.

Further, this issue cannot be reduced to simplistic labelling – i.e.  you’re either pro-abortion or anti-abortion, pro-life or pro-choice – left v right etc. It’s far more complex and layered than that.

What I am advocating is a robust and reasoned, if sometimes heated, public conversation like those we have around those other conservation issues alluded to above.

Perhaps such a conversation might begin with a question: “What does it mean to be human?”

For now, at least, we seem to be mired in more of that globalised indifference which insists upon silence.

Peter Day is a Catholic parish priest in Canberra.

 

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John Laurence Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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