I’ve been watching the arguments among Catholics about the reopening of churches without saying much. Mainly, I’ve been interested in watching how the arguments are being framed. Here’s what I’ve been seeing:
People who have long claimed to value personal sacrifice over individual freedom have been stressing bodily autonomy and freedom of choice. Others, who have stalwartly defended individual choice, are now arguing for responsibilities to other human beings—especially those who are vulnerable and unable to defend their own lives unless others choose to sacrifice their otherwise legitimate desires for the common good.
It’s like pro-lifers and pro-choicers have “switched sides.”
Lest you think this is going to become a “But the babies!” rant, you’re wrong. I’m not even going to argue that this should be treated as an opportunity to try to understand other people’s point of view now that you’ve “stepped into their shoes” while they’re borrowing your shoes.
What I will say is that I wish more people would examine the arguments they make in the moment and see where they lead.
If you’re spending your quarantine harping about limitations on your freedom to work, worship, and move about in society as a human person with inherent rights and dignity, then perhaps you ought to think more deeply about the ways in which you otherwise approve of limiting the choices of other people to live their lives as they see fit.
And if, on the other hand, you’ve been spending time chastising your friends, relatives, and social media connections about their responsibilities to make sacrifices to protect vulnerable human beings whose very lives are at stake in this crisis, then perhaps you might want to think about whether you are willing to extend that principle to other areas of life where individual choices can have life or death consequences for other human beings.
(Image: Illustration of a couple arguing through bullhorns, Pixabay.)