The Roots of the Truth
While traveling to Hagerstown, Maryland last Saturday, I encountered highway construction. The workers were removing every level of topcoat in order to reach the underlayment. The project demanded an extensive procedure: the removal of every level down to the foundation of the highway. In order to have a level, smooth and long lasting surface, the foundation itself must be durable and sound; otherwise, its flaws will be transmitted to the top layers, compromising the structural integrity of the road. The entire road, top to underlayment, must be removed and the foundation restored. Only then can the surface be rebuilt. The image of the highway construction makes me think of the transformation that must occur in order to build an authentic and lasting Culture of Life. If we are going to truly change society, then we must get down to the foundation. This will require an honest assessment of the problem — the rejection of man’s true identity and purpose.
Of course, many don’t think there is a problem at all. Humanity is fine; we just need to remove all that hinders us — God and religion — from achieving what we truly desire; what we consider necessary and of value.
Human Life International has been confronting the assault on the dignity of the human person since 1981 (and before that as Fr. Marx’s Human Life Center founded in 1972). Like you, we have seen firsthand the denial of man’s true identity and the attempts to replace it with mere secular definitions. In order to satiate his hunger for pleasure, self-gratification and power, man will embrace any ideology that promises to “free” him of obstacles to achieving his immediate desire. His appetite is insatiable. Anyone or anything that gets in the way of obtaining his goal is expendable.
What it Means to Love
Nowhere in these ideologies is there room for true love — self-sacrificing, self-giving love.
Man cannot live without love. Not an ordinary love based in sentimentality, but a love that finds its origin in God, who is Love. “God is love and he who lives in God lives in love” (1 Jn 4:16). Apart from the Origin of love, man’s understanding of himself remains incomprehensible and senseless. He moves about his world grasping at what is immediate and tangible. He anchors himself in that which cannot satisfy what his heart truly is made for and desires.
The man who wishes to fully understand himself will not be satisfied with illusions; he must look outside himself to find the answer. Man cannot redeem himself; he needs a Savior. He needs someone to show him the true meaning of love, how to love, how to be loved and ultimately how to participate in love. To expose the foundational problem of sin — the rejection of God — and answer man’s dilemma, God intervenes in human history and becomes man.
The answer to our societal problems is found in the love of God, revealed by Jesus who is our hope and strength. We must return to His words, teachings and commands. The transformation of society from a Culture of Death to a Culture of Life requires a radical stripping of those hardened layers that blind man from seeing his true self and vocation. As long as we cling to earthly definitions of man, we will continue to alienate ourselves from God and one another and societies will continue to collapse on their broken foundations. When we allow ourselves to be loved by the One who loved us first, we will once again find our way to Him and to each other.
In order to build a genuine Culture of Life, we must lead humanity, in action and conversation, back to its true identity as revealed in Jesus, the Redeemer of the world; otherwise, we are only dealing with the surface issues affecting humanity and our pro-life efforts, though well-intentioned, will remain limited in impact and scope. We must dig down to the foundation and in order to begin anew.