Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Value of a Man

In order to continue a discussion which began on Facebook I want to comment here on what it means to judge a man. Here is how this conversation started:

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Brian Williams: Death ≠ One last soap box from which to inflate your ego by announcing your differences with the deceased. Death = A chance to celebrate life or, given that inability, to sit quietly for the sake of those grieving. Senator Kennedy RIP.

August 26 at 9:26am · · Like / Unlike
Jenny Allen likes this.
Tory Albertson
Tory Albertson
Nicely put.
August 26 at 9:47am
Maggie Leahy
Maggie Leahy
yeah I really want to start putting not equal signs in my posts...please share Brian.
August 26 at 11:20pm
Brandon Jaloway
Brandon Jaloway
In fact, your uncle in his first book and again in his more recent book, says that the value of a man is equal to his moral value. That is how I would sum up Ted Kennedy.
August 28 at 8:22am · Delete
Brian Williams
Brian Williams
You can just paste in anything you want from Microsoft Word:♠♣♥♦.
8 hours ago
Brian Williams
Brian Williams
Brandon: The articles contradict one another, which is your position?
Chesterton writes of philosophies that, while complete, turn on a narrow circle; they are true unto themselves but force the thinker to limit his mind. From a anti-abortion perspective, Senator Kennedy usually missed the mark. I only suggest that his death demands a more wholistic view than prolife/prochoice. Any response must respect his grieving family and the awful mystery of death itself.
8 hours ago
Maggie Leahy
Maggie Leahy
Brandon and Brian if you haven't read this already you might like to...
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2009/08/31/2009-08-31_letter_to_pope_touches_city_worshipers.html
8 hours ago
Brandon Jaloway
Brandon Jaloway
Re the articles: I think Patrick Madrid is much more charitable and intelligent is his article than the writer for America Magazine is in his. This seems like an obvious statement to me.
Re Kennedy: I think the only honest way to analyze the value of a man is to analyze his moral value. Senator Kennedy, although a very powerful man, did not stand up to defend the widows and orphans of our day (the unborn and their mothers). This seems like a very grave moral fault to me. Any man who refuses to stand up to defend the weak and defenseless ones is a gravely immoral man. May God have mercy on the soul of poor Senator Kennedy. Luckily, I am not his judge. But here, I state these things, so that we may teach ourselves how we should behave and not behave. We should not behave like Kennedy did.
7 hours ago · Delete
Maggie Leahy
Maggie Leahy
Man has intrinsic value that is unrelated and independent of the choices they make in life.
7 hours ago
Brandon Jaloway
Brandon Jaloway
Perhaps there is a little equivocation going on here.
6 hours ago · Delete
Brian Williams
Brian Williams
To call it equivocation is to exactly miss the point.
2 hours ago
Brandon Jaloway
Brandon Jaloway
Brian, seriously? Listen, I am obviously failing to adequately express myself here. Because the limits of the comment length here I will continue this on my blog.
2 seconds ago · Delete
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So that is the context. However, I think we obviously need to lay a lot more context to make this discussion clear.
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I do not disagree with Maggie that man has an intrinsic value which is independent of any choices he makes. I recently made this point in a discussion on torture. No matter how evil a particular person is that person deserves the respect due to every human being. I strongly defend this point every chance I get. It would be rather difficult to gather together all of my writings on this but you get the point.
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Looking back I should not have said "...the only honest way..." The value of a man can have different meanings. That is why I brought up equivocation. I meant nothing harsh by it.
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However, when I discuss the moral value of a man as I was doing here I am talking about value in exactly that different sense. The sense of "should we behave like him?" Nobody was suggesting that we should torture Ted Kennedy. I was, however, suggesting that we should not emulate him. He gave a bad example of what it means to be a man. Perhaps silence as Brian suggests is an even better option and as this discussion continues I am beginning to wish I kept silent. However, I did not think that it was inappropriate for Patrick Madrid to point out that we should not be canonizing Ted Kennedy. He actively sought to promote many grave evils. He completely failed to defend the weak and defenseless in the face of the threat of violence. Even just the failure to stand up against the evils that are around you makes you worthy of shame but to actively promote violence against women and children?
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Perhaps you believe we should not judge any other human being. But are we not bound to judge our saints? To point out the particular actions which made them saintly? And if you are a student of history, are you not bound to make judgments about the moral qualities of the historical figures you study? As a historical figure Ted Kennedy will surely be judged. I object to canonizing him. I think it is appropriate to object to canonizing him. Patrick Madrid did a great job in voicing his objections. Perhaps, if I start to become more articulate, I will be able to make a coherent objection to canonizing him as well.
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Brian, I fail to completely understand your reference to Chesterton. Perhaps you believe that I subscribe to a philosophy which limits my mind?
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You might say that abortion was not the only issue Ted Kennedy cared about. I would agree with you. I am sure that there were many issue that he cared about. On many of them he might have even been right. He was definitely wrong on other moral issues besides abortion. But in the end you can be right on every other issue and still fail morally because of one issue. You have to be good all the way around before you are truly good. And I am not talking about complete perfection. But something serious like abortion is definitely enough to sink one's character.
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In the end perhaps silence is a better choice but since we have already forgone that route I believe that we should be ashamed of Ted Kennedy and not canonizing him.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the only people who are canonizing Kennedy are doing so for their own end. It really has nothing to do with Kennedy himself and everything to do with their own political agenda. It's the way he lived and now the way he died.

B.Williams said...

The Chesterton comment was in reference to the wearing of the "pro-life glasses". I understand the importance of the abortion issue to many Catholics. From a strict pro-life perspective it would seem appropriate to malign Senator Kennedy on the occasion of his death. I merely suggest that the occasion of someone's death is no time for commentary on abotion. No matter how important that issue may be, a man's death demands a sensitivity for that person's family and an appreciation of the death's mystery that supercedes any such discussion.

Brandon Jaloway said...

I agree with you. But are these rules of behavior you would apply to the death of every man? Would you apply them to the death of Saddam Hussein? Or would you not discuss the virtues of JPII on the occasion of his death? It seems to me the on the death of good men we extol their virtues. On the death of bad men we keep silent. However, if you must speak on the occasion of the death of a bad man are you saying that it is always inappropriate to mention their vices?

B.Williams said...

No. If the occasion demands commentary, the deceased should be dealt with from an objective standpoint, even if that gives rise to 'negative' discussion. However, the comments should still respect death's awful finality.