Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Pink, "Dear Mr. President" and the Culture of Life
So I bumped into Pink’s new video, “Dear Mr. President.” I think it is powerful but inadequate. I watch it and it is beyond me how so many Republican politicians were able to sell themselves to the American voters as Pro-Life. Pro-fetus, sure, pro-geriatric, yep, but Pro-Life…I don’t think so. There is a lot of life going on between the beginning and the end. The death penalty, war, denying global warming and ignoring the destruction of the environment are not pro-life actions.
I am reminded of the late Cardinal Bernardin from Chicago. He called for a "consistent ethic of life". This "seamless garment" position called for respect at all stages of the life-span. He saw modern technology as posing special threats in the form of euthanasia, abortion, war and capital punishment.
Bernardin believed that life must be consistently valued from conception to death, natural death. He went on to draft the pastoral letter, "The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response." The document challenged the morality of a nuclear defense. His seamless garment included the death penalty, war, poverty, extreme economic polarization, it included quality of life issues.
Pope John Paul II in his Evangelium Vitae or Gospel of Life (1995) spoke of the sanctity of life, all life, again, from beginning to end. He addressed the very issues the ancient church fathers struggled with, abortion, the death penalty and euthanasia. The late Pope stated, “The culture of life means respect for nature and protection of God's work of creation. In a special way, it means respect for human life from the first moment of conception until its natural end." The "protection of God's work in creation" includes so much more than just the two poles of a continuum, it includes living and living in relation.
This “Culture of Life” as opposed to a “Culture of Death” has been the focus of intense debate in the U.S.. Specifically, the challenge has been to define the boundaries of the construct, who can claim to be functioning out of a culture of life? It seems, to some, to include not just respect for life, for life to continue, but also addresses quality of life. Poverty, discrepancies in health care, ecocide have all been addressed under this umbrella concept first stated by Pope John Paul II and then popularized in the U.S. by Cardinal Bernardin.
So, back to Pink! The video addresses this broader sense of Culture of Life (I am talking about the song not the singer). If you tell me it is one-sided and partisan, I agree. If you tell me that by the definitions above very few politicians of either party can honestly claim to be Pro-Life, I agree. If you tell me the video is rude, well, it is the music of youth for youth. When was that not the case? One of the most conservative societies in world history, the Ancient Egyptians complained in their hieroglyphics that the youth of the day had no respect for their elders! So yes, it is rude.
I think it is powerful, moving and inadequate. It should also be addressed to Madame Pelosi, to Democrats elected to make a change and as of yet have not, to career politicians and bureaucrats that serve themselves and not their country. What is not clear to me is if Pink is able to convey to her viewers her support for the military while expressing disdain for her Commander-in-Chief. It would be at cross-purposes to attempt to support our military and hurt mourning family members at the same time.
Pink, the video is a good start. You speak truth to power, now hold all of our leaders responsible for their part in our hurt.