Not long ago, I was having a conversation with my son about gay marriage. His opinion was that gay marriage was wrong because it goes against the teachings of the Catholic Church. I was not as concerned with his opinion as I was with his justification, which is an appeal to authority.
This is a problem that is epidemic in our public forum. Instead of thinking for oneself, utilizing reason and experience to determine one’s point of view, many people simply parrot what a person or ideology says out of blind faith. In other words, people let someone else do the thinking for them. It doesn’t help that our media is overtly biased or that our education system preaches its own ideology, but I don’t know if it has ever been easy to think for oneself. In our country, we not only have the right, but the responsibility to do so.
I think a question that would be a good starting place for becoming an educated citizen is, “What is human dignity?” That is to say, is the value of a human being something we can measure by economic or social class, religious affiliation or biological endowments? If all of that is arbitrary to human worth, then why are we basing our lives and justifying our opinions on what is ostensibly worthless? I’m not saying that we should cast out all authority, but that ultimately the authority lies with us in whom or what we give credence and power.
Ned J. Lawrence