By R.J. Godlewski
© August 6, 2013, All Rights Reserved
“America is still the world’s best hope.” Pope John Paul II
In reading Slavomir Rawicz’s book, The Long Walk, a gift that I had purchased for my sister in congratulations for passing a state nursing exam, I am forever reminded of the sheer tenacity of the human spirit. Few, if any, Americans today can comprehend the horrors involved with a chain gang forced-marched across 1,000 miles of blizzard-driven Siberia (after a 3,000-mile ride crammed in a cattle car), let alone a 4,000-mile escape to freedom upon foot, but such stories serve to remind us of the blessedness of being human. Some of us will not succumb to the absolute brutalities of other individuals, no matter how severe they become (such as Rawicz’s detention within a chimney-like, never-cleaned cell for six months as punishment for simply being a Pole). It remains telling that Rawicz’s story – and life – exceeded the duration of the Soviet Union itself. But I digress…
In the doctrine of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “…freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything” (#1740). In other words:
“As long as freedom has not bound itself definitely to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach” (#1732).
Freedom is, indeed, a gift from God. Yet, we can exchange it for something far worse. Slavery does not always manifest itself when others restrict our liberties. Slavery begins when human beings are “bought, sold, and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity” (#2414). Because humans remain spiritual, as well as corporeal beings, effects on our lives are not necessarily exclusive to the body. For instance, our souls may very well be “exchanged like merchandise” even if we fancy that our bodies and minds fight back against the aggression. Like those who endorse or support abortion, we can never really free ourselves from the thought that others may reduce our own dignity to even less than that, which pro-abortionists thrust upon the unborn.