Focusing on actions that affirm the Culture of Life Print
Respect Life
Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008 -- 12:00 AM

By naming October as Respect Life Month, we emphasize learning about the many issues that tear down or build up the Culture of Life. In addition, we focus on the actions that positively or negatively affect this culture.

What is the Culture of Life? How do you know if you are tearing down or building up in your home, your school, or your work place? Some very simple measures are to celebrate life in our day to day living.

For instance, when someone tells you she is pregnant, do you say, "How can you afford a child?" Or do you say "What wonderful news! I wish you joy!" And what a difference you make when you help celebrate life rather than fall into the negative stereotype of children as burdens.

When someone you know is struggling with infertility, it is a very difficult and sensitive time for them. Your positive attitude toward adoption is important. Do you fall into the trap of silence when told about plans for in vitro fertilization?

To expand the Culture of Life, we must be in sympathy with the deep longing for a child, but that heartfelt desire cannot be used to overlook the fact that in vitro fertilization almost inevitably means that more children will be created than will be implanted. (In vitro fertilization is morally objectionable on other grounds, but the loss of life is of vital importance.)

The good end of wanting to love and care for children cannot validly be obtained through the means of destroying innocent life.  Treating newly-created humans in an inhumane manner, such as freezing them, is also morally objectionable. And lest you believe that freezing young humans does no harm, about one-third die upon thawing.

Speaking up

What about conversations on the death penalty? When someone suggests that anyone who commits a particularly heinous crime should be sentenced to death, are you ready with the response that our society can be kept safe by jailing the criminal? This gives God a chance to bring him or her to repentance and salvation.

As our nation watches the Baby Boomers move into their later years, there will be enormous pressure on our health care system. Because of the loss of 49 million younger members of society through abortion, many fewer younger people are available to balance the system.

The organizations promoting assisted suicide and euthanasia are vocal and sophisticated. Millions of dollars have poured into the state of Washington to convince people to vote to allow assisted suicide.

When people say, "If I'm ever in a wheelchair, just kill me," can you gently and kindly explain that life is precious, in all its guises? People, when first diagnosed with life-threatening or life-limiting situations are frequently depressed. Depression can be treated. Most people, once through the initial difficulties, begin to savor life again.

Promoting the Culture of Life

We are all faced with conversations in our daily life where we look back and say, "I wish I'd known what to say." Take heart and take courage. Each time you have a chance, just try to open the conversation to the joy of being a child of God.

The Culture of Life depends on each of us affirming life, supporting the belief that life is sacred in all its infinite variety and worth defending.

One final way you can build the Culture of Life is to look very carefully at every candidate that you will vote for and ask yourself, as a matter of conscience, will this person build the Culture of Life?

Susanna Herro is the director of the Office of Justice and Pastoral Outreach for the Diocese of Madison.