Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On hierarchy of truths

In order to understand the bishops' resistance to the current health care bill we must understand the priority of truths. We must understand that these inherent rights that belong to us as human beings differ in their necessity and priority.

The first is the right to life. This is fundamental to the human being. Without the right to life all other rights are undermined because the very essence of their existence is threatened. Therefore any action or policy that threatens the right to life, even under the guise of advancing a good, undermines both the right to life and that good.

Consider a society where the government pays for everything. Healthcare, education, the works. The only condition is that the government could decide that you no longer "contribute to society" and therefore can kill you. Suddenly, all of the rights such as healthcare disappear, and are about as rigid as tin foil.

After the right to life come the necessities. Food, clothing and shelter fall under this category. These elements are needed for basic survival. Human beings have an immediate right to these necessities, and society should provide for them to the extent a society can.

However the right to life supersedes this. Again imagine if you were starving and offered food in exchange for killing someone. You do not have the right to kill that person to obtain the food. His life is as valuable as yours.

Finally come other rights. The right to medical treatment, education, etc. These are rights in the sense that a society again must provide to the best of their ability. But these rights are more relative, in that they are more subject to availability, societal organization, etc.

But again as the right to life supercedes the immediate rights to food, clothing and shelter; the right to things such as health care, etc are superceded by the the above rights. Consider the case of embryonic stem cell research. If such research were to result in cures for various diseases, etc. We would still be required to end such treatment, as the treatment requires the killing of human beings.

This hierarchy must guide us in matters of public policy. If we do not respect the priorities, we will only undermine the rights we are trying to advance, as well as the rights that are higher in priority.

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