There are a number of defining features of the post-Christian West. Some of our highest virtues and values now include personal autonomy, personal choice, and personal convenience. Pleasing self and maximising personal happiness are seen as the epitome of the good life, while concerns for neighbour and community are barely considered.
When self becomes God then all other life becomes secondary. Indeed, in the attempt to elevate and deify self, we in fact demonise humankind and declare war on personhood. Dehumanisation and disrespect for human life follows directly from this.
Instant gratification and complete surrender to our every wish and desire have become the hallmarks of modern man. And the ramifications of this are found everywhere. In the area of family life, for example, babies are now considered to be mere commodities, to be designed and disposed of at our whim.
We live in an age of designer babies, throwaway marriages and disposable families. What used to keep families, communities and societies together are now sniffed at. Things such as self-sacrifice, forgiveness, patience, the deferral of gratification, and the consideration of others has now taken a back seat to the gorging of self.
A perfect illustration of all this appeared in today’s press. Consider this gut-wrenching and mind-numbing piece about yet another bizarre lawsuit. Here is how one press account presents the story:
“Two Victorian couples are suing doctors for failing to diagnose Down syndrome in their unborn babies, denying them the chance to terminate the pregnancies. The couples are claiming unspecified damages for economic loss, continuing costs of care of the children, and ‘psychiatric injury’. Both say they would have aborted their pregnancies had they been told their children would be born with Down syndrome.”
The story was also covered on the current affairs shows last night. The parents were complaining of how very hard it is to look after these children, and that they really would have rather aborted the babies had they been given the chance. So now they are seeking damages for their “psychiatric injury” and suffering.
These parents want our sympathy – and government money. Sorry, but I cannot give such sympathy, nor agree to such demands for payments. Do special needs children present special challenges and burdens? Yes, absolutely. But guess what, anything worthwhile in life presents obstacles, challenges and hardships.
Indeed, sacrifice is the name of the game if we want to support anything which is valuable and worthwhile. In fact, every single child ever born is a huge handful. They place enormous demands on you for a good twenty years, and continue to do so for as long as they live.
Not only will they cost you at least a quarter of a million dollars between ages 0 to 18, but they will cost you emotionally, physically, psychologically and mentally. Simply to love another person is costly. And children can be the most costly objects of love around.
Of course real love usually discounts or ignores the tremendous costs. Any parent worth his or her salt will gladly make a dozen major sacrifices a day out of love for their offspring. Indeed, simply to love another person will of necessity impose restrictions and limitations on self.
All true love is self-giving, not self-taking. To love another person is to give away part of yourself, to become vulnerable, to take risks, and to be willing to hurt. If you do not want to hurt, then do not love. A parent’s love may be among the world’s greatest love, because it may hurt the most and cost the most. But love happily embraces such hurts, sacrifices and burdens.
As mentioned, those born with physical or mental incapacities are obviously going to be somewhat more of a handful. But they are all still beautiful sons and daughters who deserve to be loved. They do not deserve the guilt trip put upon them by parents who complain about their very existence, their very right to life.
But these two couples are not alone in this. As mentioned, we now live in an age completely given over to selfishness and the deification of self. We are all looking out for number one now, and anything that will inconvenience us, cost us, or weary us, we would rather just jettison.
So when we weary of the toaster, we chuck it and get a new one. When the plasma TV begins to play up, we quickly grow tired of it and ditch it for a newer, bigger model. And when the children we bring into the world are not perfect, we look to sue someone.
While we all want the best for our children and for our loved ones, the quest for the perfect baby – or the perfect anything – is a futile and ultimately selfish quest. Life offers no guarantees, and love is developed and enhanced in the furnaces of affliction, hardship and trials.
Such talk of course seems quaint today, even offensive. We expect, and demand, perfection. Designer babies are now a part of this demand for only the best, the most convenient, and the most hassle-free. If we don’t get a free ride through life, we will find someone or something to blame – and to issue a lawsuit against.
Of course the social quest for perfection is not new. It has been around for some time now. Indeed, we have a term for it. It is called eugenics. This is a movement which had its ideological origins in naturalistic Darwinism, and came into complete expression in the Third Reich. It has long been an evil which civilised nations shunned – or should have shunned.
However, while in the past it was fanatical population controllers and Nazi doctors who engaged in eugenics, now unfortunately it is ordinary parents who are doing it. We have fully bought into the lies of the eugenicists. We want to create a perfect race, or at least a bunch of kids who will give us no problems, make no demands on us, and only serve to please us and meet our needs.
In that sense we may not be so very different from the monsters of Nazi Germany. Sure, we are refined, civilised, and cultured now. But recall that Germany in the 1930s was one of the most cultured, well educated, and progressive nations on earth.
Such conditions did not stop their fall into complete darkness. Nor will they prevent us from descending into a similar sort of barbarism. Today it is “small” things like suing a doctor for not giving us a “perfect” baby. Tomorrow it may be the passage of a law demanding that only perfect specimens are allowed to be brought into this world.
The Brave New World scenarios as depicted in a film like Gattaca may soon be upon us. We will not get there in an instant, but piecemeal – one innocuous sounding step at a time. But the bitter and bleak end will nonetheless still be reached.
Unless we take steps to turn things around now.