Stem Cell Experiments

A short time ago President Bush was faced with a difficult decision. The issue evolved around embryonic stem cell experiments. What ever his decision it was certain to be opposed by a large block who disapproved of it. The potential benefits of such experiments were said to be many. Lives could potentially be saved and the quality of life for others improved. Those assets are not to be minimized. It was thought his decision would influence our culture physically and morally for years to come. Many who conceded it to be morally wrong argued the benefits were so great it was worth the compromise. Those who said there should be no moral compromise were thought to be lacking compassion and insensitive to the benefits.

If it were wrong is it OK to do wrong in order to get the opportunity to do right? There is a moral question confronted by every individual in every age. A certain segment of our society doesn’t like to be told anything is simply wrong.

It is grievous when proponents of moral compromise in order to achieve a good physical advantage later find there was a morally right way. Patience often allows for a win-win condition to be discovered. That is, there is found a moral way to achieve the same physical good. In making his decision that seemed to be what President Bush was delaying in hopes would happen. Well, there seems to be good news.

On January 23, 2002 “NEW SCIENTIST” published an article entitled “Ultimate Stem Cell Discovered.” Catherine Verfaillie at the University of Minnesota — who is an advocate of embryonic stem cell experiments – is reported to have discovered stem cells in adults that can turn into muscle, cartilage, bone, liver, nerve, or brain cells. The cells called “multipotent adult progenitor cells,” or MAPCs, can do everything embryonic stem cells can do.

The research indicates that MAPCs can form every tissue type in the body and can be grown in culture indefinitely without signs of aging. In addition, MAPCs don’t form cancerous masses when injected into adults, a major problem with embryonic stem cells.

Bottom line: This being true there is no longer a need to clone human beings or harvest stem cells from human embryos for genetic research. Future cures for cancer, leukemia, or diabetes can be pursued without the moral controversy surrounding these practices. If these studies are correct as reported the debate is changed. We would be able to be morally right and physically advantaged.

There is sage wisdom is stated two ways.

“Do not evil that good may come.”

“Never do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.”

As with the decision by President Bush there are persons who come down on both sides of those statements. However, they sure keep a moral compass on true north.

Sin: Its Cause And Effect

Disconnect! That is a major problem in America today.

Aboriginal child birth is an example. In the primitive regions of Australia in which remote Aborigines live they don’t understand the connection between conception and child birth. The lapse of nine months between the events causes a disconnect. They think child birth results from the woman sleeping facing a certain mountain the night before. Now that there is a clear example of a disconnect you can fill in the blanks.

The lapse of time between a childhood in which parents fail to instill civic, social, moral, and spiritual values and the time when that same person as an adult becomes a blight in society causes a disconnect. We fail to associate cause and effect.

Sexual promiscuity among young adults is resulting in a rise in sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, child birth out of wedlock, and depression. Disconnect! We fail to associate that with the fact 88% of all sex depicted on TV is outside marriage. We fail to connect this with ten million minors having a venereal disease and one million girls between the ages of twelve and seventeen getting pregnant each year.

Independent sources report one-fourth of all children or teens are suffering from some serious emotional problems, most frequently depression.

Skinny models, emaciated actresses, and cadaverous musicians are depicted as prototype body shapes. In the male world it is the macho athlete, virile model, and all round hulk who is considered the fantasy form to replicate. There is a disconnect between the lionizing of these prototypes and the fact nearly 8% of girls between puberty and age 18 suffer from anorexia or bulimia while over 10% of high school boys take steroids.

Dummies who commit crimes seem never to connect the crime with the possibility of getting caught. It is as though they only consider the benefit of getting away with it and never even think what will happen if caught. Disconnect!

There is a disconnect for many between smoking and lung cancer, between social drinking and alcoholism, between ingesting carcinogens and various illnesses, between reckless driving and auto fatalities, between greed and theft, between hate and murder.

Even if the two are understood to connect there is a second significant factor called deferred payment. Our system of economics involves purchasing on credit. Buy now and pay later makes payment seem less important. The principle of delayed consequence hints that for some reason you might never have to pay for your conduct.

To avoid undesirable results don’t do anything contingent on “getting away with it.” Act responsibly. Plant the seed of what you want to harvest. There is an old adage: “If you sow to the wind you reap the whirlwind.”

Conversely, if you plant wisely you harvest joyously. Conduct yourself today in such a way as to give your tomorrow self pleasant memories.

Sex In School

Across America educators and parents are asking why youth have suddenly become openly promiscuous. As reported in the news sex in the school house isn’t an uncommon thing.

Years ago the winner of a contest sponsored by a major railroad offered the following safety slogan: “STOP, LOOK, LISTEN.”

The same three steps will lead to an understanding as to why promiscuity is increasingly rampant.

Look and listen. For example view “Sex in the City,” and “Friends” on TV. These are two popular cute shows watched by youth. Observe what moral standard they depict.

Change the dial to MTV: stop, look, listen.

Look! Look at what youth are reading and viewing and evaluate what moral teachings are inherent in it. Go to a news stand, youth do, and read such teen targeted magazines as “Twist” and “Boy Crazy.” They are explicit and encouraging of promiscuity, especially oral sex. Take time to look at copies and evaluate what moral standard they represent.

Listen! If you can’t understand the words of most rap or other youth directed music the words are often printed on the label. Most Top 50 radio stations are playing recordings that leave nothing to the imagination. They depict unbridled sex as the norm commonly practiced.

Did you listen to what former President Clinton said wasn’t and was sex? The youth of America did. They can quote him on it.

There is an old computer norm: GIGO. It means what goes in goes out. What is programmed in comes out. The same principle applies to the most marvelous of computers, the human mind. What goes in the portals of the eyes and ears is acted out in life.

Now comes the “STOP” part. How can runaway immorality be stopped? The common answer is appropriate more money for security guards and surveillance cameras. In effect, build a higher fence.

Build a nine foot fence and a way to build a ten foot ladder is the result. To compensate for the ten foot ladder build an eleven foot fence. The ladder business doesn’t work. Taller ladders are always on the drawing board. They are built faster than fences.

A kangaroo was introduced in his new habitat at the zoo with an eight foot fence. The next day he was found wandering around the zoo. They built a ten foot fence with the same result. They built a fifteen foot fence and the next day he was still enjoying his freedom. Not even a twenty foot fence kept him in.

The lion in his adjacent compound asked the kangaroo, “Do you think they will ever devise a way to keep you in?” He replied, “Not unless someone thinks to lock the gate.”

The gate is the individual human mind and will. Only when youth are disciplined by parents who will “STOP” and give the attention youth deserve in order to develop self-discipline will the situation improve.

Marcus Aurelius, one of the “five good emperors of Rome,” said, “The life, like a temple, must be arched and buttressed from within or it will waver and crumble to the ground.”

This is an appeal for full time parental involvement by modeling and mentoring morals.

September 11

On September 11, 2001, more than the Twin Towers collapsed. A false philosophy fell also. Just as a counterfeit concept was gaining acceptance the tower tragedy exposed it as fraudulent.

In that moment we were dramatically reminded morality matters. Our society was being fed a diet of relativism. The theory that there are no absolutes was being popularized. Situational ethics were being propounded as acceptable.

Proponents of relativism teach there are no absolutes. Right and wrong, good and evil, if there are such things, are relative. Under the banner of tolerance they have declared one idea is as good as another and all are to be accepted as equal. Among youth this is causing difficulty in that some students are saying slavery in America and Nazism in Germany were appropriate because well intended people thought them to be. Regardless of who thought them right they were evil.

Ask a proponent of there being no absolutes if they are sure there are no absolutes and they might well answer, “Absolutely.”

Just as the concept that there is no objective difference in good and evil was catching on the terrorist taught us in an instant there is. The word “evil” once more emerged in public dialogue.

Some savants of New Age spiritualism as well as devotees to Eastern mystical religions assert sin is not real and there are no wrong choices. Darwin spawned the idea “wickedness is no more a man’s fault than bodily disease.” Apply that to the events of September 11, and try to get an understanding of the day. How can anyone now say evil is no one’s fault? The idea to destroy the towers and kill thousands crawled out of the dark cave of some devious mind.

The bleakest period in the history of ancient Israel was described as a time “When all did that which was right in their own eyes.” That is postgraduate relativism.

How can anyone advocate good and evil are interchangeable? “Exhibit A” that refutes this deception was demonstrated in New York. Evil guided the planes into the towers. Good drove the rescue workers, firefighters, and police up the shafts in attempts to save lives. Absolute evil and absolute good faced one another and good stared down evil.

Relativism is judgmental, exclusive, and partisan.

Relativism says if you believe in absolutes you are wrong. That makes it judgmental.

Relativism in saying there are no absolute truths excludes your belief in absolute truths and that makes it exclusive.

Relativism excludes all persons who are non-relativists from their supposedly “right thinking party.” That makes it partisan.

This is a time for assessment. We each need to face the mirror reflecting our personal morality and ask if we have bought into rationalism and relativism. Parents need to use this as a teaching time. Obviously the parents of a young William Penn taught their son there are absolutes. In adulthood he framed the issue in these words: “Right is right though all men be against it and wrong is wrong though all be for it.”

Separation Of Church And State

The courageous founders of our country knew full well the likely result of their bold declaration of independence. Often persons say, “Let’s hang together” to encourage friends to stick together on an issue. This challenge to cohesiveness is said almost flippantly. When first uttered by one of the signers of our Declaration of Independence it referred to being executed for what they were signing and continued: “Let us hang together or we will hang separately.”

They were not lacking in resolve nor naive regarding the result. At great cost they gave us our liberty.

These immortal words by Thomas Jefferson are inscribed in the Jefferson Memorial in our Nation’s Capitol: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure if we have removed from the hearts of the people belief that those liberties are the gift of God?”

In our rush to purge our institutions of public reference to deity we have removed from the hearts of many any belief in God from the hearts of many people. A statement intended to insure God a place in our nation’s life has been used to remove Him. It is that infamous banality “separation of church and state.” Few know its origin. Many think it is an extraction from our Constitution.

Many of the colonists came to America from Europe where England had an official religion, the Church of England, Germany had an official state religion, Lutheran, Spain and Italy, Catholicism.

The Baptists in Banbury, Connecticut were fearful a particular denomination would be made the official religion of theirs and other states. At the time the policy was so entrenched that John Adams said, “You might as well expect a change in the solar system as to expect us to give up our established churches.” The Baptists wrote President Thomas Jefferson soliciting his aid in insuring that no one denomination would be made the state church.

Few dare read all of Jefferson’s letter in response dated January 1, 1802. Therein he assures the Baptist Christian and moral teachings as found in the Bible would never be separated from government. In asserting the state could do nothing to restrict religion he assured them there was a “Great wall of separation.” Meaning the principle of the First Amendment prohibited the state from “restricting the free exercise thereof.” The limitation was on the state not the church. Up until 1947 there were many Supreme Court rulings that interpreted the Amendment in that light.

Two days later President Jefferson went to church. The service was held in the House of Representatives with the Speaker’s desk serving as the pulpit. The music was by the Marine Corps Band. Church was also held in the Supreme Court Building and the Treasury Building. That is a clue as to what the First Amendment was intended to mean.

To have a freedom and not use it is little better than not having it. Let’s use our freedom of worship constructively.