Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ryan's Christening and Ethical Dilemmas

I just got home from my grandson's christening. It was my first christening. Being Jewish I guess this is not unusual. Overall I thought it was a positive experience. Obviously the star was Ryan who after establishing a reputation during his brief life for crying toughed it out and in a period of one and half hours did not cry at all. It made me wonder about the existence of the holy spirit who the priest referenced more than once as being an intimate part of the ceremony.

After leaving the church I called my mother in California. I told her I was leaving church after attending Baby Ryan's christening. Her first response was something about Christmas. I repeated again that I was at a christening. Her next response had to do with something about food. I repeated it twice more and could not get her to either hear or understand.

I finally said, "I was at a baptism in a Catholic Church."

Her immediate response was, "Did they discuss abortion."

I said, "Ma this had nothing to do with abortion."

She said, "I thought you said you were at a Catholic church."

I said, "They didn't discuss abortion. It was a ceremony for Baby Ryan."

She said, "Aren't the Catholics against abortion."

I said, "How are you feeling?"

She then said, "Don't ask, I don't want to upset you, but I had a terrible night?

I said, "What are you doing now?"

She said , "Waiting for Obama to speak. He's going to speak about abortion."

I quickly changed the subject, not because I have any opinion one way or the other, but because it's a little to complicated a subject to discuss with my ninety year old mother who can't hear or understand over the phone.

The abortion question is a tricky one. I am against abortions in general but cannot say for sure that it is against any universal laws so I am pro-choice. One of the more interesting points regarding abortion was one I learned from reading the book "Freakonomics." The author, a well respected economist, basic premise is that we oftentimes misinterpret facts and that in many cases things are not the way they seem to be. Right up my alley. He cites the case of the declining crime rate in New York City. Many people believed this was because of actions of Mayor Giuliani and a general tightening by the police of their vigilance against minor crimes and minor criminals.

After studying the statistics carefully the author's conclusion is that the lower crime rate can be directly attributed to the legalization of abortion. Prior to this, the rich could easily have abortions while the poor unwed mother from the ghetto was forced to have her baby and bring it up in conditions of poverty without any father. Many kids from this type of background ended up as criminals. By lowering the incidence of these births through abortion there was a corresponding decrease in the crime rate.

This issue is one of a few including legalization of internet gambling and legalization of marijuana that is in the news right now. When you listen to arguments about these issues both sides are passionate and make many good points that are hard to refute. I listened to a debate about the legalization of internet gambling the other night. The first gentlemen was in favor of internet gambling. He believed that its popularity was growing tremendously anyway and that legalization would help generate greatly needed tax revenues. I could not agree more.

The second gentlemen said that internet gambling was creating a level of addiction that was greater than had been seen with any previous type of gambling. The ease of having gambling right at your fingertips twenty-four hours a day was proving to be almost irresistible to those with gambling tendencies. I could not agree more.

Obama said today in regard to abortion that we must keep the dialogue open. We need to respect each other's opinions and try to find some ground for compromise, although he acknowledged that there was a fundamental disagreement between both sides. That sounds good but doesn't lead to any solution.

In my mind there is no solution to these issues. The focus about these matters of personal morality and ethics needs to be changed. We cannot change behavior through legislation or through conversation. It has not not worked for thousands of years and does not seem to be working now. What has worked is that our civilization has progressed in a natural way. It is less barbaric and brutal than it once was, although there are those who will argue this point and I must acknowledge that we still have a long way to go.

We spend too much time, energy, and money, focusing on issues that may be interesting but are not clear cut or important, In my opinion it comes down to each of us working on our own personal development and having productive days. There is big change coming. The world that Ryan will be living in when he is thirty, thirty years from now, will be almost unrecognizable to the one that we live in today. The issues that we deem important now will seem petty then. We need to prepare him as best we can, although I have the feeling that he will do it himself.


  1. What big change are you referencing? Have you read Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman? If not buy it or borrow it from the library. Tom Friedman is a genius.

  2. I believe that in thirty years when our grandchildren are adults the world will be unrecognizable from what it is today. Transportion, healthcare, energy, communication, average lifespan,and unimaginable tecnhological advances will produce a global society where abortion, gambling, drugs, will not be major concerns. The major issues will br space travel, cloning, personality alteration, and the viability of marriage and the nuclear family.