Life and Death on the Gridiron

Satan challenged God to a football match pitting the best players in Heaven against the best in Hell.  St. Peter, speaking on God’s behalf, asked the Prince of Darkness how he expected to win such a contest since the heavenly All-Stars would be disciplined, well coached, and play as a team, whereas their opponents, being a gang of incorrigible ruffians, would be utterly disorganized.  Satan, bristling with confidence, laughed out loud:  “We have the officials on our side, that’s how!”

Such is the way the war between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death is being conducted.  Football’s officials are the referee, head linesman, umpire and field judge.  In the hands of the Underworld, they are known in literary lore as the “Four Horsemen”: Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death.  In their contemporary livery they are:  a perfidious Media, corrupt politicians, meretricious admen, and timid educators.

Under these conditions, those struggling to advance the Culture of Life are penalized for being “violent, anti-choice, and against women,” while their opponents are rewarded for being “compassionate, pro-choice, and for women”.  It is all, of course, most unfair.

In football, a wrong call by an NFL official is considered so egregious that “to pull a Hochuli” has now become part of the language after referee Ed Hochuli, who now must live forever in infamy, made an erroneous call that cost the San Diego Chargers a game.  But on the playing field of life “officials” make wrong calls frequently, deliberately, and with impunity.  What is not tolerated in the National Football League is applauded on the gridiron of life.

The challenge for those who direct their energies in the interest of promoting life is great, but not insuperable.  They will continually work, by word and deed, to show the world that the Culture of Life has more to offer than the Culture of Death.  They will help those in need while utilizing wit and imagination to convince those devious mediators that honest and fair reporting is a moral imperative.

My thoughts at this time center on the plight of Canadian pro-life students who are suffering ridicule, censorship, and denial of their constitutional rights simply because they believe in the value of education.  We must continue to re-state the obvious:  1) that induced abortion, that violently ends the life of an unborn child, is incomparably more violent than setting up a right-to-life display;  2) that a choice is free, and not a mere guess, when it is based on relevant information, not when it is deprived of it;  3) that it is not pro-woman to prevent her from obtaining critical knowledge about the nature of abortion and its consequences, while keeping her mummified in a cloak of platitudes.

In the bizarro world of George Orwell’s 1984, War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.  The “officials” who are mediating the abortion issue in Canada are convincing people that Knowledge is Violence, Ignorance is Freedom, and Education is Discrimination.  Orwell intended his book to be ironic, not the profession of an ideal!

How did it higher-education become lower ignorance?  Why did choice become infallible when knowledge became unreliable?  When was it decided that the best way to treat women is to keep them in the dark?

Culture is an effective educator, though its subtle processes often go unnoticed and therefore uncriticized.  It often functions like a colorless and odourless gas that people breathe in without suspecting how it will adversely affect their mode of thinking.  Education should involve, for one thing, examining unexamined assumptions.  If the unexamined life is not worth living, as Socrates advised, the unexamined culture is not worth living in.

Pro-life advocates must remember that they are struggling against forces that are faceless.  Their hope lies in the faith that, ultimately, God is in charge and the hope that life finally will prevail because of its inherent superiority.  On the other hand, life has a face, characterizing both the pro-life allies and the unborn who they seek so valiantly to protect.

The struggle against the forces of darkness is a lifelong enterprise.  But it is made specific and therefore all the more dramatic in the current struggle on behalf of life.  Canadian pro-life students, precisely because they are discriminated against, are learning a most valuable life-lesson.  “The fire and the rose are one,” wrote T. S. Eliot.  Education, whether in school or in life, is not a handout.  It is not the automatic result of paid tuition or generous parents.  It exacts a price paid in frustration and the experience of brutal unfairness.  But these fires can cleanse and purify.  They can serve as the needed factors that change a mere “intelligence,” as Keats called it, into a “soul,” into someone who is “personally itself”.  And how are such “souls” formed?  “How but by the medium of a world like this?”  The experience of unfairness, together with innumerable hardships and disquietude, can be an effective catalyst in the making of such a “soul”.  In the self-forgetful act of helping others, we become better persons ourselves.  “He who loses his soul, will find it.”

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About the Author

Dr. Donald DeMarco is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo, Ontario; a Visiting Scholar, Holy Apostles College and Seminary; a Distinguished Visiting Teacher, St. Hyacinth College, Granby, Massachusetts; Faculty Member at: Catholic Bible College of Canada; St. Joseph’s College, Edmonton; Mater Ecclesiae, Rhode Island; Domus Mariae, Rhode Island; John Paul II Institute, Melbourne, Australia; and a Lecturer for the Sisters of Mary Immaculate, Cambridge, Ontario. He is the author of 21 books, including, How to be Virtuous in a Not-So-Virtuous World with Fr. Bill McCarthy, MSA (Los Angeles, CA: Queenship, 2007); several hundred articles in scholarly journals and in anthologies, and articles and essays appearing in other journals and magazines and in newspapers; and innumerable book reviews in a variety of publications. His education includes: B.S. Stonehill College, North Easton, MA 1959 (General Science); A.B. Stonehill College, 1961 (Philosophy); Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, 1961-2 (Theology); M.A. St. John's University, Jamaica, NY, 1965 (Philosophy); and Ph.D. At. John's Univ., 1969 (Philosophy). His Master's dissertation was "The Basic Concept in Hegel's Dialectical Method" and his Doctor’s dissertation was "The Nature of the Relationship between the Mathematical and the Beautiful in Music". He is married to Mary Arendt DeMarco and they have five children.

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