Monday, 16 November 2009

Were 20th century battles against tyranny fought in vain?

Recent weeks have seen some important commemorations:
  • the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War (1 September)
  • the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall (9 November)
These anniversaries mark struggles by countless millions of free people against regimes that were seeking to oppress them.

Yet in our own day, countless millions of free people in supposedly free Western societies face oppression by their own governments. In addition to the lethal oppression of abortion, destructive embryo research and euthanasia, our government is increasingly oppressing innocent children and their parents in its drive to introduce the culture of death into schools. In this, it emulates the Nazi and Communist regimes, which used state power effectively to abduct children from their parents' oversight. The totalitarian regimes of the 20th century shared the Brown government's contempt for the principle that parents are the primary educators of their children, a principle enshrined the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)  It is important to note that this principle was enshrined in the UDHR precisely in the light of the indoctrination of children by Nazi rule (which even led to units of the German armed forces being composed of children).

Today there is a disturbing reversal of the post-war drive to protect individual human rights.  Baroness (Mary) Warnock, the radical anti-life philosopher, told the House of Lords in 2007:
"At the centre of the moral thinking behind the 1990 [Human Fertilisation and Embryology] Act was a broad utilitarianism. Changes may have come about, and we may all be much more rights-oriented than we were before the passage of the then Human Rights Bill, but in that moral thinking there was very little consideration of human rights. It was much more a broad utilitarian consideration, and I must say a few words in favour of utilitarianism … As legislators, parliamentarians have to be utilitarian in the broadest possible sense … On the committee, we thought that utilitarianism in this broad sense was the philosophy that must lie behind any legislation …" (Hansard, 19 Nov 2007, col. 721)
I was struck this morning, when I went to church before going to the office, by the first reading in today's Mass from the Book of Maccabees. In short, the narrative relates how a section of God's people made an alliance with Israel's pagan rulers. This dissident section betrayed the true religion, and before long the king imposed his paganism on the whole of Israel. We can see today how the Catholic Education Service seems effectively to be making an alliance with the Government to introduce compulsory sex education, betraying Catholic pro-family teaching, and before long, if their legislation is not resisted and defeated, the government will have imposed the culture of death throughout the school system and on another generation of British people.

Considering the millions of unborn children and innocent born persons killed under anti-life governments every year, and the reversal of the post-war drive to protect individual human rights, may we dare to ask the frightening question: Was the sacrifice for freedom made by so many millions in the 20th century in vain?

My answer is that we should only dare to ask that question if we dare to answer with a resounding  "No" and to justify that answer by our actions. We will never abandon our children or set aside their birthright to be their primary educators.

Our children will never be surrendered to an anti-life, anti-family culture, so long as there are parents, headteachers, doctors, priests, and pro-life campaigners who are prepared to resist the government's legislation. We must begin our resistance to the government's plans by appealing to our pastoral leaders of all faiths: Please act urgently to protect the families entrusted to you from the government and from politicians of all parties who are determined to destroy them.

(I am grateful to Fr Andrew Southwell, of St Bede's church, Clapham Park, London, for the broad theme of this blog-post: whether 20th century battles against tyranny were fought in vain.)

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