The Grammar Of Right Thinking

January 9, 2009 09:00 AM

Not a day passes without one headline or another grabbing my attention and riveting me to a search engine on my computer, sort of like a mad dog! But I learned that one of the best ways to share the undeniable truths that are not yours or mine, but God’s, is to focus on those aspects of daily life that prompt us to think about what kind of people we are. Whether we are Americans or Brits or Africans or Sudanese or claim any other cultural identity, we all have the same gift from God – written on the heart of every man.

That gift is called the natural law, and one brilliant woman, Professor Cynthia Toolin, recently wrote in the Social Justice Review, “Just as grammar is inherent in each language, each human person has the grammar of the natural law written on his heart.”

But what happens when that grammar is denied or despised?

One mother, Victoria Lambert, wrote about her decision to abort her preborn child because of a negative prenatal diagnosis she had received. I think the title speaks volumes about what happened when she ignored the grammar written on her heart. In the article entitled “I aborted my baby because he was disabled but it still feels like murder and haunts me every day,” she shares this heart-wrenching detail:

I've been unable to talk about it easily, unless with a drink in hand, let alone write about the experience. This is partly because I have felt out-of-step with the rest of the world, where the validity of abortion is a given for millions of people - especially women - and to admit to being uneasy about this seems to make you a traitor to any notion of “sisterhood.”

Yet also, and this is the crucial point, because of an overwhelming and isolating sense of shame. Almost from the moment I awoke from the anesthetic, I have deeply regretted my decision. Whichever way I looked at it, it felt then and it feels now like murder.

Lambert’s abortion occurred nine years ago, and she is only now dealing with the aftermath, with all of its pain and sorrow. Things might have been so very different for her if only she had heeded the grammar of the natural law, written on her heart, in her moments of anguish those many years ago.
But at the other end of the scale is Christ Hospital in Jersey City, New Jersey,  which is under investigation to determine if employees tossed a stillborn baby’s body into the trash, since the baby’s body is missing. Dr. Manny Alvarez told his readers that this is not the first time he has heard such a report. He wrote,

I have tried to talk to the hospital, to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s office, as well as the Jersey City Police Department, to try to understand how a baby’s corpse could have possibly been thrown out with the hospital trash, but no proper answers were given, since everybody is hiding behind rules and regulations.

A mother’s child must always be respected – whether alive or dead. And I am truly sorry for what has happened to this family. I just hope that this hospital will learn so that this will never happen again.

Can you imagine the horror of such an act? Can you see that scene in your mind’s eye and grasp the disregard for the human person that must have influenced the individual who tossed that child’s body away?

Yet as Branden Cobb writes,

We've all heard about medical mistakes before but what happened to one mother in New Jersey is beyond comprehension. Kalynn Moore told reporters in New York yesterday that when she went into labor a month early on December 21, doctors at Christ Hospital in Jersey decided to do a C-section.
But instead of getting her Christmas miracle, a healthy baby boy named Bashir, Moore's son was stillborn. Devastated, the young mother left her baby's remains in the care of the hospital and went home. When she came back to claim him, the hospital couldn't find his body. That's right, you heard me, the Christ Hospital claimed it couldn't find Bashir. ... 
How does a hospital lose an infant's body? 
If that wasn't bad enough, Moore says police told her that her son had accidentally been thrown in the trash; tossed away like garbage. How in the world could that happen? Surely, medical professionals can tell the difference between a little black boy and a pile of trash, right? Apparently, not because now officials are searching dumps in New Jersey and Pennsylvania looking for Bashir's remains.
It makes me wonder about the state of health care in this country. And, it should make you think the next time you check in the hospital.

I have to tell you that reports like these not only tear at my heartstrings, they make me feel so sad for those individuals who have rejected objective truth. Such people – and there are millions of them – appear to be blind to the violence that surrounds them. In his message for the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI said something worth repeating in view of these tragic reports: 

[T]he norms of the natural law should not be viewed as externally imposed decrees, as restraints upon human freedom. Rather, they should be welcomed as a call to carry out faithfully the universal divine plan inscribed in the nature of human beings. Guided by these norms, all peoples —within their respective cultures—can draw near to the greatest mystery, which is the mystery of God… The duty to respect the dignity of each human being, in whose nature the image of the Creator is reflected, means in consequence that the person cannot be disposed of at will.

It is as if his words, though spoken in a completely different context, acutely describe the problematic situations noted above. And he continued:

Respect for the right to life at every stage firmly establishes a principle of decisive importance: life is a gift which is not completely at the disposal of the subject. Similarly, the affirmation of the right to religious freedom places the human being in a relationship with a transcendent principle which withdraws him from human caprice. The right to life and to the free expression of personal faith in God is not subject to the power of man. Peace requires the establishment of a clear boundary between what is at man's disposal and what is not: in this way unacceptable intrusions into the patrimony of specifically human values will be avoided.

For those of us who strive to end the wholesale murder of innocent persons from the instant their lives begin, the suffering of Victoria Lambert and the tragedy that has afflicted Kalynn Moore and her family cannot be overemphasized. There is no political solution to their plight, and there will no political solution to ending the killing of the preborn until such time as the grammar of right thinking becomes accepted among all people, so that respect for the dignity of the human person will always come before everything else.

The human family has been fractured by ignoring the specific grammar written on the heart of every human being. We must work to mend the human family before the fracture becomes irrevocably terminal.

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