One thing right- and left-wing totalitarian regimes have in common is their hostility, in practice, toward parental authority. The "property right" they target most consistently is the one by which children belong to their parents – not just in the existential sense in which objects belong to the people who possess and use them, but in the sense of the shared way of being in which all humans belong to the same species.
Thanks to our discovery of DNA and its workings, we understand this sense of belonging more literally now than ever before in human experience. Or, at least, we ought to understand it. When the Bible says, of man and woman, that "the two become one flesh," we can, with the right instruments, look directly at the objective conjunction of physical elements that makes it so. We can identify the particular individuals whose fleshly information contributed to the union.
We know, therefore, that the child belongs to the parents in a sense more intimate than the physical activity long identified with its conception. The child is the conception of their unity in the literal sense of being a word (an outward appearing figure) whose meaning reflects the union of their distinct existences, as two persons materially conjoined. Aside from identifying the parents with the child, our present working knowledge of this conceptual fact about their offspring provides a basis for identifying a community of individuals to whom the child is related. That community can include individuals with physical congruities that can become vital to their chances of surviving certain health hazards.
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All this goes to confirm the belonging that unites parents and their children is not an intellectual or emotional afterthought, willfully produced after the fact. It is an objective reality, an informational imperative that human understanding can recognize, but which it does not consciously produce. The parents' interest in the child corresponds to the root meaning of that term (from the Latin inter - "between" + esse "to be"), with reference to the two individuals who, between them, contribute the material that informs the child's physical existence.
It's ironic (in a sense that may indeed prove tragic for humankind) that our more explicit understanding of the belonging that gives rise to parental responsibility coincides with a vicious assault on the parental authority that responsibility necessarily entails. The bond or obligation to care for one's child implies respect for the means required to do so. The means include, among other things, the liberty to direct and instruct one's offspring, as required to serve and preserve their well-being.
These days it's common to lament the decline of this sense of parental responsibility. Yet the same people who take that decline as an excuse to demand government intervention enthusiastically support attacking the authority that parental responsibility entails. They connive at school regulations that keep parents in the dark about the sexual activity of their offspring, including abortion. They demand easy access to abortion, even though the callous disregard for the child's humanity it involves hardens the heart against the caring affection that upholds parental responsibility. Now, in cases like that of British toddler Alfie Evans, they imperiously stab at the heart of that affection. Ruthlessly, they assert the power to kill the child against the parents will; against their desperate pleadings; against the deeply human compassion that has led millions to offer help in support of their efforts to exhaust every method that might help preserve his life.
As a matter of ideological tyranny, governments are shredding the decent heart of parental responsibility. In its place, they offer "expert" professional care. And they enforce edicts from medical and legal practitioners, as well as government bureaucrats, whose coldly calculated decisions prove beyond doubt that they despise and systematically seek to destroy the heartfelt kinship that has sustained human family life, for diverse nations everywhere, throughout the history of the world. Because the episodes of this ideological tyranny pre-occupy our minds and emotions, we do not stand back to ponder the fact that the heartless abuse of power governments now practice against familial authority is not just the effect of particular circumstances.
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It reflects the abandonment of the understanding of human affairs that respects the imponderable but proven fact of human goodwill. Such goodwill is rooted in the aspect of our being that transcends material intellect and calculation. It speaks from the reason of the heart that is common to all human beings. That reason holds forth in the court that lies within us. From its precincts, we look upon our experience with an eye we cannot turn upon itself, an eye whose operational imperatives our empirical method of understanding cannot comprehend.
We know the rules that govern it, however, because we experience their effect. It tugs us toward the will that corresponds to our best interest, our best hopes, our best prospects of ourselves in action. Sometimes this good sense appears on the great stage of human events, where people presuming to impose their better will avidly invidiously seek to amass the power to do so. But it has most reliably appeared among the multitude of people who have followed the path of belonging that binds parents to their children, and families to their kin. Along the way they learn, from little things, the large capacity for love and caring that reaches beyond itself to encompass all those who act from that same heart. In their actions, they reveal themselves to be of our kind, in spite of any differences between us.
What sense does it make to pretend we seek a world in which all humankind will live with a good family's heart when we are entrusting power to vicious ideologues bent on destroying in the very institution through which it first extends its love. I pray that in time we will come to realize that when we let them leave infants like Alfie Evans to die – compelling parents to cast away the cords of family love and obligation – we destroy the prospect of compassionate human community. Thus, the very thing these totalitarian ideologues deceitfully tout as their utopian goal is what their defeat of parental love purposely cuts off at its roots.