THE WEST THAT IS THE DUSK

GRZEGORZ GÓRNY

The western civilization was built on the synthesis of three elements: Christian religion, Greek philosophy and Roman law. Is the statement in reference to the modern West actual? If we wanted to refer to another civilisational division, often quoted by John Paul II – to the division into ‘life civilisation’ and ‘death civilisation’ – it does not look good to the advantage of the West. For it often turned out in many international encounters of various UNO agendas that protection of life from conception to natural death is strongly supported by Vatican and all Muslim countries, whereas abortion and euthanasia as well as sterilization are supported by most countries of Western Europe, and also – if there is a group of democrats holding the authority – the United States. If in some western countries even 70 percent of women agreed to have abortion, so – using the papal terminology – it seems justified to include these regions to the group of ‘death civilisation’.

It is difficult to consider today’s Western Europe faithful to Christian tradition, which remains the most secularized area of our globe. Together with the crisis of religious identity, we are observing also erosion of the second fundament of our civilization which is the mental heritage of ancient Greece. Well, the basic characteristic feature of the main philosophical trends of antique Hellada, whose leading representatives can be seen in Plato and Aristotle, was a belief in possibility of reasonable getting to know the truth about the world surrounding us. Whereas in the postmodern thought domineering in the West today there is an opinion that it is difficult to recognize the truth, but the very reference to it is dangerous as it brings a danger of recidivism of totalitarianism. In this context it is worth mentioning the famous saying ‘pope of postmodernists’ by Michel Foucault, who said that every truth enslaves (which is the opposite to the words of Christ: ‘You will get to know the truth and the truth will liberate you’).

A very significant example of returning from the Greek philosophy in the life of contemporary western societies is nearly the general rejection of the oath of Hypocrats. This oath, formulated in about 4550 before Christ on the Greek island Kos, was obliging in the medical world for nearly twenty five centuries. It said clearly: ‘I will never give anybody any poison to their request, nor, I will never intend to do so, nor I will give a woman an abortion pill’. In the mid of the last century, in most western countries (including Poland) the oath of Hypocrats was replaced by ‘medical vow’ which lacks the words that abortion and euthanasia are contradictory with the vocation as a doctor.

Also the third fundament of the western civilization – the Roman law – is successively breached. It is well-proven by a verdict of the Supreme Court of the USA from 1973, legalizing abortion in this country, especially its legal interpretation done by a judge Harry Blackmail. Well, he admitted that as for the choice of a moment at which abortion is allowed, it was necessary to arbitrarily balance the right of woman to the choice with a child’s right to life. One the one hand, having the right to bring death, and, on the other hand having the right to save life, judges pointed to the period between the 16th and 18th week of pregnancy as a moment in which one can kill a child in a mother’s womb. They did not focus on whether the fetus at the prenatal period was a human being – they simply excluded the human life at the particular time from the legal protection.

Firstly – it was a decision made against science which proves that human life beings at the moment of conception. Secondly – this decision opposed to the binding law which treats an unborn child as the subject of property or heritage law. Finally, it was made against the whole civilizational tradition of the western world deriving from ancient Rome – for, if considering human life, one cannot use an argument about a conflict of values, as the right to life is more important than all other rights.

In the spiritual and cultural sphere, today the West reminds a man who lives on high interest rate and sale of property inherited from preventive ancestors, whereas he cannot multiply his property himself. However, he is not doomed to the fate of destiny or unrelenting determinism of history. One of the basic characteristics of the West is a belief about a free will – that these are our personal choices which form the social life. So, the future of the West depends not on anonymous institutions or historic processes, but on particular choices of individuals. It was seen well by John Paul II and Benedict XVI who were appealing for the return of the Europeans to their spiritual roots. Their appeals, however, remain unnoticed.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 23/2018 (10 VI 2018)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Lidia Dudkiewicz • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl