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Pillar

The Human Person

The first pillar of a decent society is respect for the human person, which recognizes that all individual human beings have dignity simply because of the kind of being they are: animals whose rational faculties allow them to know, love, reason, and communicate. It also recognizes that human beings are persons, members of the human family who flourish in a community that respects their fundamental rights and who long to discover transcendent truths about the nature of reality.

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Dear reader, as you step away from my story, I have two requests: first, believe women when they tell you about sexual violence. And second, recognize that abortion coercion is real. 
While we continue to seek ways to extend robust legal protection to prenatal children and to persuade our pro-choice brothers and sisters that such laws are necessary to forge a truly just society, we should all be able to come together to stop unwanted abortion. 
When we reject suffering and seek to replace it with artificiality, we miss our invitation to submit to the conditions under which love flourishes. We also lose sight of the meaning and purpose of our existence, which is not to pursue our own comfort and convenience, but to love God and our neighbor, even when that involves sacrifice and hardship.
Enabling “the good death” begins with reviving attentiveness. We must first attend to the dying in our own communities. Care for the dying, in turn, enlivens reflectiveness on our own death. To advocate increased attendance in the death chamber is not meant to scare, nor to set up a macabre museum. It is instead a reminder that all men are mortal and that one’s eternal destiny is of the utmost urgency. It is instead a way to reintroduce and refine the art of dying well. 
Human flourishing does not require escaping the cares and travails of this world, but rather, it imbues them with significance in the light of the Eternal One, in whom we live and move and have our being.
Israelis celebrate their writers, artists, scientists, jurists, industrialists, and statesmen who fought wars of life and death. And of course there are other ways to serve—caring for the mentally ill, for abandoned children, for the elderly and sick. I am grateful for all of these exemplars. But for me, it will always be specifically the young men and women who go to the army intending to return (many, alas, do not return) to their studies when their missions are done. These people go on to have families, large ones, and jobs of all kinds, and different hobbies and interests and vocations. Their commitments are ordered by a conscious dedication to the Lord of all flesh.
If young people are taught to look at history only through the lenses of power and oppression, they will conclude that power and oppression are everything. Conversely, let them be introduced first to the genuinely great historical deeds, philosophical ideas, literary creations, and works of art of which humans have been capable. Then they will discover the ideals that moved our predecessors.
Indeed, a person in such a crisis seems like he or she has a deep need for truthful communication. Once more, not every truth needs to be communicated. But the important truths that they are loved, that their life is of value, and that they have much to live for, can only be convincingly imparted by one whose trustworthiness is manifested by his or her unwillingness to speak falsely. The beginning of a clinical relationship seems to me precisely the wrong time to lead by saying what one thinks is false.
The attraction of subjecting oneself to ideological thought, then, is a new form of something very old: the desire to escape the limitations and uncertainties of the human condition of knowledge and action by availing ourselves of a greater-than-human power.
Constant supervision thwarts a child’s ability to develop important qualities such as resourcefulness, self-awareness, and perseverance. But independence with a strong inner compass, a compass that is oriented toward the safety and trustworthiness of healthy family relationships, helps children eventually carry that attached compass away from home and eventually calibrate it for themselves.
Canada’s infamy has led many to rethink their support for assisted dying, no matter how strong the purported safeguards may be.
Risks are essential to human flourishing. By taking measured risks—to our sanity, our financial stability, our perceived safety—we explore the limits of our ability to withstand discomfort, a posture that then allows us to care for others. In this way, well-ordered risk-taking is fundamentally others-oriented.
If we are to feel at one with the structures in which we labor and dwell, if they are to endorse our existence here on earth, beauty must take precedence over all other factors. Without it, the battle for the soul of civilization cannot be won.   
Understanding homemaking as a craft that produces beautiful (if intangible) results should hopefully encourage young men and women who are thinking about caring for a home and/or children. For the young mother or father overwhelmed by all there is to do and feeling incompetent in the face of the multiple—often conflicting—demands of house and children, it may help to know that homemaking is a skill to be developed over time.
Recovering art as a participation in God’s governance, and as co-creating with God, is crucial to the healthy formation of young people, our places of worship, and our everyday lives. 
For American families, housing has become too expensive. We can make it more affordable if we build enough housing. But in order to do that, we cannot stop at making it legal; we need to make it easy.
The belief that childrearing is prohibitively expensive could be understood as a fruit of our collapsing civil society. Some people today don’t even consider that extended family, neighbors, churches, and other little platoons can, at least theoretically, provide real support to parents. They fall into believing that the only places to turn for help are the market and the state. Parents without community support then shift more burden onto themselves.
The public bioethics conversations of the twenty-first century will be much more nuanced and complicated than the abortion debate of the last fifty years. If we want to speak thoughtfully about how these and other technologies are shaping our future, we will need to move beyond a reductionist approach to human dignity.
By disclosing the folly of our modern worship of the inarticulable Golden Calf, AI could put us on the path to becoming again a rational, serious people, a people of the word. Stranger felix culpas have happened.
The protests are not simply about Gaza, but concern incompatible ways of life and value. They are another moment in the long rejection of Western metaphysics, anthropology, ethics, and epistemology by Westerners coming of age in a culture that teaches them to despise their own civilization.
If our society is to answer the question “What is a woman?” we will have to think more about how women can integrate their professions with their femininity, without stifling it, and about the value of the virtues that women on average exemplify better than men. Considering Edith Stein’s thoughts on these questions is an excellent way to start.
In her popular new book, Abigail Shrier challenges parents to help kids through the hard parts of life rather than relying on the therapy industry.
Maier’s love for the Church comes through in this book and is why others who love the Church will want to read it. Perhaps we can hope for a sequel in which we will get to hear more of Maier in his own words. 

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