Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Third Man and the Insignificance of Others

In the latest issue (June/July 2008) of First Things magazine Fr. Richard Neuhaus delivers a sledgehammer blow to the face of the proud and the strong in his monthly "Public Square" article. It is so perfect, so precise, and so devastating, it made me sit upright when I read it. He aptly juxtaposes scenes of people who just know they are right, or least want to make others believe they are right ... I want quote it in full:
The taxpayers of California are paying for a multi-billion dollar Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which specializes in embryonic stem cell research and other cutting-edge technology of the brave new world. Alan Trounson heads up the project and says in an interview that he was at first 'very uncomfortable' about dissecting human embryos. But then, on a trip to Naples, he talked with 'members of a Vatican university who persuaded me that if I felt that what I was doing was designed to address some problem of human misery, then it was acceptable.' He means well, so that's all right then. Too bad about the very little human beings, but you have to look at the big picture. Says Trounson: 'In a big-picture sense, I want to be up on the mountain looking down on the Serengeti, watching all the animals move through.' You may remember Orson Welles in The Third Man, standing at the top of the ferris wheel, watching all the people moving through the square below, and explaining why this is the perspective in which to judge his dealing in diluted penicillin. When you're doing bad things to little people, keeping the big picture in mind is a moral comfort.

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