Have you heard about Alfie Evans, the child at the center of a political crisis in England? A court, and therefore the police and doctors, decided to stop giving him oxygen. Although they won’t diagnose him to say for sure, the boy reportedly suffers from a rare degenerative brain disease, so the science and legal authorities decided to kill him by withholding not just medical treatment but also food, oxygen, and water. The boy didn’t die, however, so now he’s being given oxygen again.
This scandal became an international crisis as well, because the pope offered to have the boy flown to Rome for treatment. Pope Francis has addressed the case publicly, including on Twitter. The Italian state did its part, too, offering emergency citizenship and taking every diplomatic action possible to save the boy’s life. The British authorities could not be bothered.
This child’s life has revealed a rare case of utter contradiction between the secular state, which may decide murder is the kind thing to do, and the Christian faith, which holds we are created by a holy God and therefore our lives are precious. Faith puts a sacred limit on what we or the state may do. Now, that sacred limit is corrupted, and we find it very difficult either to strengthen the prohibition with another source of authority or to restore the authority of the faith.
This is happening in Europe now, but in other ways it is happening in America, too. The very basis of being pro-life, asserting the special dignity of being human, is in question, and we are not very good at explaining and defending that dignity. As a result, the state sometimes kills the defenseless among us, and we do not act politically to save their lives. What we the people understand about life and our duties to defend human dignity is being challenged and found wanting.
This Is Supremely Barbaric
We need to understand two very important things about what has just happened in Britain. The first has to do with the role of institutions that wield power because they are politically authorized to do so. The British National Health Service, the court of law, and the police are attempting a human sacrifice. We are used to thinking that only primitive pagans or Nazis or Communists would do that. It turns out, the most civilized places in the world do it, too.
You may find this hard to believe, and you might want to ignore that this is really happening. But if a court decides on murder and sends the police to make sure the murder takes place and the doctors remove the oxygen from the baby in hope of killing him, all of which just happened, then the state is now involved in human sacrifices. This was done expressly for what authorities see as the baby’s good.
We've issued a statement this evening to make people aware that social media posts which are being posted in relation to Alder Hey and the Alfie Evans situation are being monitored and may be acted upon. Read the full statement here: https://t.co/epopt5bhmY
— Merseyside Police (@MerseyPolice) April 25, 2018
There is something sick in the governing classes whose beliefs lead to such decisions. This was not a secret conspiracy you might see in a thriller. It happened over months, with all due respect for formalities, in public, and reported in the press. So there is a similar terrible sickness in a people that suffers this to happen. The sacrifice was prepared and announced, the victim held in custody, the parents denied the right to seek medical help somewhere else.
Let’s not reassure ourselves that we are far more civilized than the British. Let’s not dismiss the gravity of the matter by saying it would never happen among us. It might have already happened in some case we didn’t even pay attention to. Acts like this are already being legalized in state laws authorizing assisted suicide for the disabled. We are all involved as citizens and as human beings in actions that should terrify us. We will need a very serious change of attitude and a new resolve to help defend the dignity of human life.
A Loss of Understanding Our Common Good
The pope championed human dignity in this case. We have to do what we can to publicize his piety and do what we can to strengthen it. We must also do what we can to take strength from that strength for ourselves and to give it to everyone else, beyond Catholicism or even Christianity. We have to look for and to help such champions, because they will be needed again.
This brings me to the second important revelation. The death cult that inspires some among the governing classes is the inevitable reaction of the institutions we have authorized to govern us to their own fundamental incompetence. They understand neither the common good nor the way each citizen fits into the common good.
In Britain, the NHS is really the ceremonial center of the regime, an attempt to create a common good. The last thing all people have in common is a health system to deal with their fear of death. Equality before the law is augmented with equality in access to more health, to life-saving science.
There is nothing we can do for our British allies about this besides admonish them and set a better example, but we should also learn not to install a similar system in America. To prevent that, we have to understand that the NHS was created in the first place to foster public solidarity. The same political crisis of inequality and lack of solidarity between the wealthy and the poor is upon us since before Obamacare became law.
This Is a Call to Action
We have deluded ourselves that Republicans would repeal Obamacare. Our institutions are going in the same direction as in Europe and for the same reason. The governing classes have no idea about the common good either, and they will turn to a death cult when they can no longer believe the powers of the state can defend human life. They will not quit their jobs. They will not ask God to guide them. They will use power against humanity when once they stop believing humanity has any future.
The failure of Obamacare has not stopped it. It’s more than likely that the next progressive administration will create a single-payer system like the NHS. And it is a dead certainty that there will be a next progressive administration. We have failed to persuade the public to repeal Obamacare, and we have failed to promote politicians who would work to achieve that persuasion and that repeal.
We have to learn that our governing classes have failed us and that it is time to organize in news ways to persuade the public and to create an understanding of the common good, above all by saving as much as possible the lives of the poor, of the defenseless, of the lower classes. It is only by doing everything we can to include them in the prosperity and comfort of American life that we can avoid turning into yet another civilized country where the state attempts to murder citizens in the name of kindness.
The defenseless among us are the first victims: Babies, the elderly, especially when they are terribly ridden with disease, but also the poor and the people we imprison. They are already suffering a hell of our political making; they already reveal the evil that we have nurtured in our politics and even in our hearts by ignoring the suffering of others.
We have to be willing to see that and to begin to change it, or else in our indifference we will tolerate a state that organizes this evil on our behalf, in our names, and, ultimately, will perpetrate it on us as well.