A round-bellied African child and an eager-eyed American politician approach a well. As they creep closer, they notice a sign saying, “If you are starving, I shall provide you with a life-giving substance. Tell me when you last ate.” The child takes a deep breath and with a small grin mutters, “I haven’t eaten in three days.” Nothing happens. The politician rolls his eyes and informs the well, with a most matter-of-fact tone, “I with sincerity can say I last ate an hour ago.” To their great surprise, the well rumbles and within moments spews a loaf of bread. As the child walks towards the loaf, the well barks, “Get away, you’re not the starving one. Unless he is fed, you and all the rest will always be hungry.”
Our politicians are starving, our nominal Catholics are starving, our society is starving. Although we must not underrate the severity of the physical hunger the impoverished are experiencing, it is the spiritual hunger of society’s figureheads that posts a deeper concern. In order to make the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights relevant to our nation, we must first cure our starving population.
Physical starvation is a problem because it affects the body; spiritual starvation is a greater problem because it attacks the soul. A soul controlled by selfishness and perverted ideas of truth is one that cannot provide for the greater good, the summon bonum. It was only through the life, death and resurrection of Christ that the cure for spiritual starvation became available: “Jesus said to them, ‘I am telling you the truth: if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in yourselves. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life and I will raise them to life on the last day. For my flesh is the real food; my blood is the real drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me and I live in them” (John 6:53-57).
The Eucharist, the simplest way of affirming belief in perfect unity, goodness, justice, beauty and truth, is the only answer for spiritual starvation. Because it is through humbling themselves and recognizing that truth indeed exists outside of their subjective whims are humans able to recognize the sanctity of life. Peter Kreeft, a Catholic apologist, in his article, “Human personhood begins at conception,” stated: “An honest conviction is one arrived at after an open-minded search for truth; a prejudice is one arrived at before. Honesty leads to conviction, not away from it.” Only a society of spiritually satisfied members could marvel in that simplicity. Because when one recognizes truth in response to human personhood, he or she recognizes that: 1) human life is sacred, and 2) that pro-life movements strive to protect that sacredness.
It often seems that this understanding of human sacredness is limited to people who openly label themselves “pro-life.” But all people ought to know their rights and recognize their dignity. Strangely, society concerns itself with the monstrosities of murder, pedophilia and pornography while failing to recognize the humanity of the aborted or euthanized. It appears as though there is a problem in society’s diet, a hint of poison added to the beef and potatoes. Not enough poison to recognize it’s there, but just enough to feel the effects.
The reason the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights then presents itself is because it is an objective affirmation of human sanctity and, in its ideal, strives to eliminate the poison from the diet. In the first article of the Declaration, it states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
This is once again reiterated in article 3, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” The clarity and power in these articles is undeniable; only a starving person could pervert them and respond with something as backwards as: “Well, humans continually inflict economic burdens on society.” While a spiritually satisfied person would read the Declaration and sing, “I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth well” (Psalm 139:14).
The question then arises: why rid society of the poison? Why relieve them of their starvation? Why make sure that the UN Declaration of Human Rights is relevant to people? First, because there are many global issues in need of our attention and if humans are unaware of their rights, they cannot act accordingly. And second, because of the fact that it is a universal document striving to protect the sanctity of human life.
It is not limited to evangelical Christians or the “pro-lifers,” but is applicable to each and every person. One cannot deny the Declaration’s existence, but he or she can certainly question its value. This document clearly celebrates that precious and priceless value.
Often, those opposed to the pro-life movement are not ignorant beings and thus, it is not a cry from their intellects that perverts the truth, but rather, a cry from their souls. They are spiritually starved individuals living off meagre diets, poisoned drop by drop. They struggle to love their brothers and sisters because they cannot properly love themselves. This battle with selfishness and selflessness stems from the problem pro-lifers face.
Thus, to make the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights applicable to society, we must first identify an existing problem: humans struggling to appreciate the sacredness of life. Then we must diagnose this problem as an outcome of spiritual starvation. And last, we must offer the only remedy that takes care of selfishness, relativism, and “food” poisoning: the Eucharist.
Zuza Kurzawa attends St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School, Richmond Hill, Ont. She is a co-winner of the 2009 Fr. Ted Colleton Essay Contest.