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Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Engine of History

Origins Part V:

So here it is. Finally, the final installment. Because it’s the final installment, I’ll just get to it. OK, I can’t do that. I was holding sending this out until I could report a victory for the Troglotyke #1's and my boys basketball team. Well, we finally delivered in a squeaker, 39-38. Woo hoo! (Good to get that monkey off our back.) Now back to it.

Recall that we’re using the example of abortion trends as the context for examining social change and exchange. Well, not only do abortion trends not track with the occupant of the White House, but there is very little with which they do correlate. The trends do not track with any political indicator, nor with any economic indicator, nor even with the trend breakdown by economic status of those women who procure abortions, where there has been very little change in the last 10 years.

Investigations have been done attempting to understand the slight decline in abortions during the 90s, including one by AGI and another by the Heritage Foundation. These studies are at least consistent with each other in that they suggest explanations of birth control implants/injections and state regulations and restrictions for abortion for the decline, respectively. However, neither gives a substantiated claim explaining the full trend even from far back as only 1990. Even if they do correctly identify the components of decline, they still only represent a response to an increasing public interest in reducing abortions and unwanted pregnancies and suggest some other, better context for understanding yearly changes in the number of legal abortions.

The only parameter that I have been able to locate that has some appreciable correlation to the abortion rate since the Roe v. Wade decision is the number of abortion facilities in the US by year. Regardless, whether this is causal, correlative, or consequential, we need to recognize that politics and economics provide lagging indicators. So then, how do we understand history?

Step back and look at how we can understand the objective world. Traditionally, there are two starting points, cosmology and human experience. A cosmological view leads to science. Science is inherently iterative in its rigor and its knowledge and action lags accordingly. Human experience, though often less rigorous, is confirmative (nearly coincident), or even anticipative, in contrast to how we can respond with science. Note that this is where revelation fits. Examining the order of personal, human experience writ large brings to light that culture is the engine of history. Not economics. Not politics. Not technology. Not society.

Closing the gap between the way things are and the way things ought to be in accordance with the truth requires first examining, then thinking and acting to create, maintain, or change culture - personally, locally, regionally, nationally, worldly, universally, etc. This is where the context of argument ought to be because at question is whether there is a fundamental uniqueness of each human. Today’s shrillness can be traced directly to the dispute that the human person possesses intrinsic value and dignity and, therefore, has rights and responsibilities re the recognition, nurturing, and protection of a person’s own dignity and the dignity of others. Choosing to do what one ought to fulfill one’s nature as a human person is the achievement of liberty in its fullest sense. Society requires a culture that embraces the truth of the human person for liberty to flourish. It is this kind of culture that leads to harmony. And what is the primary bearer and steward of such (moral) culture? Yep, the traditional family; parents and child.

Is there a link between economic policy and abortion? Absolutely. Is it causal? Absolutely not. It is this reality that betrays those who are pro-life in name only. We can debate “tactics” for reducing abortion until we’re blue in the face, but until the culture is changed there will continue to be a chasm in the body politic. And millions of additional unborn dead. Deny the family by redefining it, or by denying the inherent dignity of persons in one generation by another, and real argument dies. Or to go back to my opening essay, the culture today reduces discourse to thinly-veiled, intense indignation, usually in the form of an accusation that one party is invading, or seeking to invade, someone’s rights for the benefit of someone else’s utility. If argument is lost, then so too is personal development through our social nature harmed. Restoration requires cultural renewal--the sooner the better.

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