Politics is the art of the possible, or so said someone or other. It is also the art, and I mean art in the fullest sense, of manipulating public opinion. Or maybe it's just the art of manipulating people.
Recent events have brought this to mind - events occurring in the wake of the passing of Proposition 8 in California. Yesterday, two state legislators from Connecticuit introduced legislation that would hand over fiscal authority in Catholic parishes from the diocesan bishop to a lay committee. This arrangement would restrict the parish priest and bishop to an "advisory role". You can imagine that the Catholics in Connecticuit are unhappy. The latest word is that the two legislators have retracted the proposed bill in the face of protest. The message was sent, nonetheless.
Other events include the appointment of Catherine Sebilius to the Health and Human Services cabinet post, and recent attempts by city officials in San Francisco to remove the Church's tax exempt status.
In a way, I'm glad it's happening. Today's news of the Connecticuit bill, I think, put into clear contrast the competing values operating here. On the one hand, you have the civil liberties arguments put forth by the gay lobby. "We should be allowed to get married because we feel like it". On the other, you have the first amendment of the Bill of Rights guaranteeing freedom of religion. It is forcing the issue. We'll see on which side the balance rests.
Anyhoo, I'd still be happy if the balance comes down against us. The reason being that it will force action. The 'tolerance' principles of the so-called progressive movement are being tested. Do they tolerate contrary opinions to their own? You'd never know by the way homosexuals have reacted to the passing of Proposition 8. Do they engage in fruitful discussions, seeking compromise? No. They demonize and vandalize their opponents - and try to bully them into submission. You'd never know it, either, by the way that President Obama steamrolled any opposition to stem cell research by putting "science over ideology". You see, any opposition to embryonic destruction is mere "ideology". Don't you get it? Conversation over. That's it.
This is the tyranny of relativism, folks. It moves with all the force of the Third Reich, and for the same reason: it knows that it is right. The frightening thing is, namely, that it is convinced of the inability to know anything for certain. It is absolutely certain of its uncertainty. Irony is no defense, for relativists admit not even irony.
Freedom isn't free. The price of liberty is discipline and compromise. Part of this discipline is the discipline of mind. If we allow ourselves to be intellectually (and spiritually and physically) emasculated, there are those who think they know something who will make our decisions for us. They could be cool characters announcing how "these little cells" (embryos) will make us capable of giant leaps of medical discovery. Or they could be the robed imam, declaring that "Europe is the disease and Islam is the cure".
The imperative is upon us, fellow Westerners. Start believing in something (besides empty platitudes). If your mind can't muster the strength to cut and shape - someone else's will. And chances are, you'll find yourself consigned to the fate of the weak... And by then it will be too late.