Friday, July 29, 2005

a voice from eden on "Frist and embryonic stem cell research"

Vox has good advice for Senator Frist right here. He first notes that new research techniques may provide researchers with stem cells without compromising any embryo's life. He then challenges the senator to truly serve the suffering:
But then there’s also the issue of suffering. "As a physician, Sen. Frist has a moral calling to save lives and alleviate suffering. He honors his Hippocratic Oath today by recognizing the unique healing power of embryonic stem cells," said Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).

I think those who suffer from debilitating illness deserve more encouragement and support than those words from the senator. And they certainly deserve more than from an ethically questionable method that may or may not even bring about their healing. They deserve people who are with them in their time of pain and testing and to help them pass through their suffering. There is a profound meaning to suffering, as Pope John Paul II wrote several years ago in his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris.
Unfortunately, our culture is one that denies the Transcendent as either an absurdity, an irrelevancy or a means of emotional comfort. In other words, many Reasonable people of varying degrees of Reasonableness don't take God seriously. They'll snort coffee out of their noses in laughter at any mention of redemptive meaning in suffering. No, to these people, suffering is a problem to be solved through the applied use of our collective will, i.e. science. After all, they believe, we're the fulcrum of meaning in the universe. Us, the Absolute Individuals. It's up to us to determine the meaning of our lives. Suffering doesn't cut it.

How tragically short-sighted. Surprising, too, when we realize that many of us expose ourselves to suffering on a regular basis in order to gain something. Name an athlete that doesn't suffer the pain of training; yet what athlete turns away from it? Name the sacrifices that medical students avoid on their path to becoming doctors; I doubt you'll find many! Name the entrepeneur that didn't go through many sleepless nights and agonizing days establishing his business; would they evade such struggles and risk their business's failure? Somehow, though, many of us drop this perspective when we experience suffering not of our choosing.

However, these are the experiences in which we must embrace, not deny, our cross. No one wants to suffer. However, when it's unavoidable, we can seize knowing that in doing so our Lord seizes it with us. We can recognize that through embracing the suffering in our midst, we welcome him into our midst. We grow in our capacity to love, for we sacrifice the pettiness and selfish desires for our own simple comforts as we serve those in suffering. When we suffer ourselves, we know that He's with us in our pain. We do not pass through it alone or for no reason. We depend on him even more.

Our culture has lost sight of this. God bestows his Grace to those who suffer, whether directly experiencing the ravages of illness or injury, or indirectly facing it in the suffering of loved ones. Thus, many see suffering as a nonsensical condition that must be eliminated. It is the only evil left that Reasonable people name in unequivocal condemnation. Thus, any thing that can alleviate suffering must be good. Unfortunately, for many, that includes the ineffective and immoral ESCR.

Now is not the time to hide the Gospel. Now is the time to proclaim it in the fullness of our lives. We must evangelize through every act we make in union with our Savior. People yearn to know the meaning of their lives and to believe that they do not live alone. God answers this deepest need of the human heart; we can bring God's good news to them. If the world is to see suffering as the opportunity for us to grow closer to him, we must preach the gospel that allows the blind to see. Let not our hearts be troubled, let not our efforts sag. Ultreya!