That he wouldn’t want his daughter “punished with a child” should she become pregnant as a teenager is Senator Obama’s latest revelatory extemporaneous statement. I commented on the insight that this gives the voters about the Senator’s pro-choice agenda yesterday but as I have pondered this statement further, it shines a light on a greater cultural issue that we must address if we want to avoid the further degradation of society that threatens to engulf us. Aside from the moral issue of referring to the unborn child as a “punishment” we must examine the mind-set that cultivates the idea. It is nothing less than the complete abdication of personal responsibility to simple solutions meant to mollify any lingering sense of accountability for the decisions we make.
To be punished succeeds a choice that one has made to run afoul of a societal or legal construct. I speed and run stop lights, I get a ticket or lose my license. I cheat on an exam and get caught, I fail the class or get expelled from school. Though some will disagree even with these examples, most of who exist in the modern world accept that the regulations implicit in the examples are in place for the common good. A segment of our society however, sees certain behaviors as beyond the reach of cultural standards. Using the example provided for us by Senator Obama, there are those among us who believe that sexual activity should be entirely free from consequence though it is well known that impregnation can be a direct result of intercourse. Instead of insisting on accepting the personal responsibility for engaging in sexual intercourse, there is a cultural movement to insist that a woman must be free to eradicate the baby and remain free from consequence of her decisions.
This notion of the complete eradication of personal responsibility in favor of seemingly easy and cost free solutions has wheedled its way throughout our culture. Students protest expectations that they read, speak, and write correctly because their earlier educational devotion did not prepare them adequately for a rigorous challenge. They demand that the coursework be made easier so that they can continue to receive the value-diminished excellent marks that they have come to expect. Any teacher that stands up for the integrity of scholastic requirements is deemed unfair and their teaching status challenged. And on and on it goes. This demand for a life replete with freedom of choices without consequence extends into every area of life until one day we arrive at a utopian society in which all problems brought about by our choices are fixed by an external authority.
There are many in our society, Senator Obama included, who envision this external authority as the government or, in stickier situation, para-governmental organizations such as the abortion industry. They would ‘free’ us from those moral constraints which have served humankind throughout history but are anathema to an ‘enlightened’ culture. Why have consequences when the solutions are so easy? Get pregnant by exercising your ‘choice’ to engage in sexual intercourse? Kill the fetus and move on! Problem solved. Make a bad decision in any aspect of life, no worries, someone else will fix the problem. This all sounds inviting until we realize that whatever behavior we reward (by removing the consequence) we naturally get more of and so the cycle deepens. As we accept this cycle, we revert to a kind of childhood where mommy and daddy fix our mistakes for us. When we live in this kind of environment, Mom and Dad define the limits of our liberty in return for this benefit. Are we willing to continue to return to a governmental mommy and daddy?