Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
January 31, 2000
On abortion and pro hockey
The increase of abortion and the decline of hockey in Canada may not, at first glance, seem to have much in common. But if the issues are pressed deeper, the root of much that is amiss in our society might well become clearer.
The late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the American TV homilist of the 1950s and '60s, often made comments such as, "When all is said and done, there are only two philosophies of life. One is first the feast, then the hangover; the other, first the fast and then the feast."
When given the opportunity, most of us opt for the immediate gratification of having the feast first. Yet, it is so often the second philosophy of life we tend to admire in others. For example, we admire Mother Teresa, but few of us emulate her.
This paradox underlies the huge outcry when the federal government announced its intention to financially prop up Canadian NHL teams. "No way are our tax dollars going to further enrich millionaire hockey players," we objected. And rightly so!
The government had felt that hockey is a proud part of Canadian culture. Well, that used to be so. However, what makes a nation view some aspect of its culture with pride is that it embodies personal sacrifice for the sake of a common good. Team sports provide myriad opportunities for that to happen. We see the heights of team spirit embodied in many of the great pro and amateur sports teams of the past.
But today we have to look much harder to find it. When we look at pro sports today, we are inclined to see - alongside still high levels of individual competence - ridiculous salaries, players who think nothing of moving to another team in search of more money, and managers who think nothing of trading or releasing those players who truly have made sacrifices for the sake of the team.
Hockey was part of Canada's glory. Today it is little more than a high-priced form of entertainment.
On Jan. 28, we also mark the 12th anniversary of the Supreme Court's abolition of Canada's already-flimsy abortion law. A so-called individual right of one class of people was given absolute predominance over the right of a powerless group of people to life itself.
This is a barbarity of the highest order. It is cloaked by sterile operating rooms and righteous talk about the right to choose. But it is barbarism, one which seriously undermines the future of society.
Abortion, too, springs from the desire to have the feast first and hope that the inevitable hangover never takes place. Sex in the Western world has been degraded from a sacred act by which husband and wife give love to each other and life to the world, into a plaything. The patient longing and waiting of the virgin are widely looked down upon as frigidity.
Sex has become a free-for-all. Yet even private, intimate acts of extramarital sex between consenting adults have public consequences. There is pregnancy, disease and widespread emotional turmoil. Abortion is a brutal attempt to eliminate one of those consequences. But such a solution only worsens the disease.
Archbishop Sheen's second option - first the fast and then the feast - is not even part of our public awareness today. Ultimately, that option only makes sense in the light of the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is not likely to ever be a popular option in a society used to expecting instant gratification and instant solutions. But the world's solutions too often are hollow and destructive. Only the cross holds hope for humanity.
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