"You Can Fairly Judge the Character of Society by How It Treats the Weak, the Vulnerable, the Most Easily Forgotten".
That surely wasn't the case when President Bush (as a reporter for Knight Ridder put it) urged new college graduates at Concordia University "to promote `a culture of life' in America as part of a lifetime commitment to serve the weak, the vulnerable and `the most easily forgotten.''' His speech, according to reports, was repeatedly interrupted by standing ovations.
Speaking at the largest Lutheran university in America, President Bush challenged graduates of Concordia to "protect and honor life in all its seasons." Located just north of Milwaukee, Concordia graduates many who go on to become ministers.
Alluding to abortion and lethal stem cell research, the President told the approximately 500 graduates, "Our worth as human beings does not depend on our health, or productivity, or independence, or any other shifting value the world might apply." Mr. Bush added, "Our worth comes from bearing the image of our maker."
Referring to America's long record of compassion, the President said, "We believe that everyone has a place and a purpose in this world, that every life matters, that no insignificant person was ever born." He told the graduates that "America needs your good heart in meeting a basic responsibility: to protect and honor life in all its seasons." A compassionate society, Mr. Bush said, "shows a special concern for those at the beginning of life, those at the end of life, and those who struggle in life with disabilities."
What follows are excerpts that pro-lifers will find of particular interest. You can read the President's entire remarks at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/05/20040514-4.html.
President Delivers Commencement Address at Concordia University
THE PRESIDENT: ...
Many of us find that there is much more to life than getting and keeping. True fulfillment comes with the responsibilities we assume: to care for our families, and to love a neighbor as we want to be loved ourselves. This is more than a familiar saying; it is the foundation of a meaningful life.
A person shows his or her character in kindness and charity. And what is true in our lives is also true in the life of our nation. You can fairly judge the character of society by how it treats the weak, the vulnerable, the most easily forgotten. Our own country, at its best, strives to be compassionate, and this isn't easy. Compassion is not merely a vague feeling of empathy, it is a demanding virtue. It involves action and effort, and deep conviction - - a conviction as old as Scripture and present at the founding of our country. We believe that everyone has a place and a purpose in this world, that every life matters, that no insignificant person was ever born.
America rejects the ethic of sink or swim. America rejects social Darwinism, because strength is not the same as worth. Our greatest failures as a nation have come when we lost sight of our compassionate ideals - - in slavery, in segregation, and in every wrong that has denied the value and dignity of life. Our greatest strength as a nation is that we bravely face our flaws and do our best to make things right. Our greatest successes as a nation have come when we broadened the circle of protection and inclusion. And this work is not finished. We will press on until every person shares in the promise of our country. ...
Second, America needs your good heart in meeting a basic responsibility: to protect and honor life in all its seasons. A compassionate society shows a special concern for those at the beginning of life, those at the end of life, and those who struggle in life with disabilities. Most of you, at some point, will be called to care for a dying relative, or a frail and aging parent, or someone close to you with a terrible sickness. Often, in their pain and loneliness, they will feel they are nothing but a burden, and worthless to the world. And you will need to show them that's not true. Our worth as human beings does not depend on our health, or productivity, or independence, or any other shifting value the world might apply. Our worth comes from bearing the image of our Maker. And the hardest times of your life may be the most important, when you bear witness to this truth by your sacrifice and loving kindness to another soul.
This commitment to the value of every life also challenges our society. Technologies that have extended life also make treatment decisions harder at the end of life. New methods of research hold promise in treating disease. These innovations show the resourcefulness of humanity, and they must be guided by all the wisdom of humanity. Our standards must be high, and clear, and fixed. Life is not just a tool, or a commodity, or a means to other ends. Nothing good or just can be built on the destruction or suffering of others.
These convictions have deep roots in our nation's founding. Our Declaration of Independence calls life an endowment of the Creator, and on earth, an unalienable right. Applying this belief has always been a test of our democracy. Your education has prepared you to add to these debates with respect for others, and with confidence in your own beliefs. By your voice, and by your example, all of you can help to build a culture of life in America.
The great events of these historic times can seem remote, and beyond the control of individuals. Yet, we have recently seen how much difference, for good or ill, the choices of individual men and women can make.
One person can do so much harm, or so much good. One person can show the compassion and character of a whole country in an hour of testing. Never doubt that you can make a difference, because the call that comes to you is yours alone. And a great deal depends upon your answer. By bringing care and hope into other lives, you can fill your own life with purpose. By caring for life at every stage, you can make our country a more just and welcoming place. By showing the generosity of America, you can help change the world. ...
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|Publication:||National Right to Life News|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2004|
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