A monthly column by the Emmanuel Community: 46 Rosalino Street, Woodbrook.Tel:628-1064;firstname.lastname@example.org
In an address to the US Senate in 2015, in reaction to a video which revealed that the Planned Parenthood Federation of America was involved in the sale of the body parts of aborted babies, Republican Senator James Lankford tearfully pointed out the irony of the fact that “there were children still being aborted with an instrument reaching into a mother, tearing apart a child,” while at the same time, the Senate was in the midst of discussing “the humane treatment of animals being put down, like in horse slaughter,” and the protection of orcas. He found it even more abhorrent that the abortions were being performed in such a manner as to preserve certain organs “for medical research”.
More recently, on an episode of ‘The Doctors’ on CBS cable network, the panellists were discussing what seems to be the latest fetish among young people, whereby they are so taken with seeing themselves ‘on screen’, that a group of them was callously taking selfies during an incident in which someone was being attacked, yet not one made any attempt either to assist the victim or call for help.
They seemed to have an insatiable need to say to the world, “Hey, I was there for this”. The presenters were sounding an alarm that the unrelenting promotion of ‘self’ was taking precedence over any concern for ‘the other’ at such a tender age.
Closer to home, also just recently, in response to the circulation on social media of raw images of a crime victim, our Minister of National Security was lamenting the fact that people no longer run to cover the bodies of dead persons with a white sheet.
We seek to satisfy our cravings for the gruesome and the garish in complete disregard for the dignity of the victim, or the effect of the broadcast of these images to the victim’s relatives and friends.
Each of the incidents above, nevertheless, is reflective of the general lack of respect for human life that permeates our culture today. It seems to be no coincidence that as we enter more intensely into the festivities of the Carnival season, we are reminded in the second reading of the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 14): Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you since you received him from God. You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for. That is why you should use your body for the glory of God. (1 Cor 6:17–20)
Perhaps if we are able to heed the exhortation of this passage, and honour our own bodies, even as we enjoy the Carnival celebrations, we might just begin to grasp what it means to uphold the dignity of the human person. And perhaps if we learn to honour the body in life, we might just do so in death as well.