Today we honor the memory of one of the great figures in the struggle for civil rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We have seen so much progress in that struggle, but that struggle continues. The evils of abortion and fatherlessness disproportionally affect the African-American community and were Dr. King alive today, he would undoubtedly be appalled at this present state of affairs. The sanctity of life and the sanctity of the family: these are the great civil rights issues of our time, for these are the rights of children. These are the rights of our future, the true silent majority. If we do not defend them, we will be judged by our posterity for our own silence.Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marching for civil rights in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963
Children place great demands on their parents. We come into this world utterly helpless and naked. We cannot survive on our own. The great lie embraced by our culture is that as we grow older, we become self-sufficient and no longer need the help and care of others. When we believe this lie, our attention turns away from love for others and towards love of self. The ordering of society around the protection and upbringing of children is overturned and instead of being seen as a gift and a blessing, children have become an accident and a burden. Mother and father are seen as interchangeable with no thought for the sacredness of what they are able to accomplish in the union of body and soul.
When the link between childbearing and marriage is no longer deserving of special recognition, the rights of the child, where they exist at all, are superseded by the wants and desires of the parents. Instead of mastering self-control and planning for the future, we have become a culture of instant feedback and constant stimulation. Instead of bequeathing our children with the incalculable wealth of continuity with the heritage and legacy of preceding generations, we will leave them with a dysfunctional, disjointed, and destroyed society where every man is for himself, whatever the costs even to his most intimate relations. In all of this, our children will pay the price.
As these bonds with the past and future are broken and as children are increasingly seen as commodities to be traded–or destroyed–at will or chattels to be bound by the ruling of a judge or property to be conveyed by legal contracts, we will also see increasing pressure by the state to separate children from their parents in the name of the public good. It is already happening: there is the well-publicized case of Justina Pelletier, or the recent kerfuffle in Montgomery County, Maryland over adolescent children playing without adult supervision, or most ominously, the recently proposed and then scrapped regulation in Goochland County, Virginia which would have required teenaged home-school students to justify their religious beliefs. These incidents would have been unimaginable even a generation ago, but the divinely ordained bond between children and their parents is already so badly attenuated that they have now become commonplace.
I too have a dream, that across this land, every one of us will feel the marks of God’s infinite and unselfish love in our hearts and recognize that we are not flesh-bound automatons, but as St. Paul tells us, created spiritual beings made for a higher purpose than mere selfishness and self-gratification. I have a dream today, that we will at last fulfill the promise of our founders and of Lincoln and of Dr. King, and that all God’s children, black babies and white babies, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will all be allowed to live and to grow and to know the love of a mother and father, and that even the least among us will be finally be treated with dignity as human persons in both body and soul.