Choosing To Serve The Common Good

I just saw the movie Gosnell. For those that do not know what this movie is about, it tells the horrific crimes and trial of the America’s biggest serial killer, the abortion doctor Gosnell. I learned a very important lesson from this movie that can ––and should–– be taught in every classroom. I want to share this lesson here.

When the police man realizes that the narcotics investigation leads to something quite more gruesome ––the death of persons, the violation of someone’s human right of life–– he could choose to simply overlook the issue, because it was not the main objective of his investigation, and actually it would have been more comfortable, professionally speaking, to overlook the issue… but he chose not to overlook the issue and do the right thing: to investigate it further, eventually making possible the whole trial of Dr. Gosnell.

The conversation that this police officer had while he is convincing his colleagues to investigate further the women’s death is worthy of being shared here. As he is told that what he believed ––that a crime was committed–– implied “a lot of assumption” he states all the facts that clearly indicated that a crime was committed and insists to his colleagues:

––Now she’s dead and no one seems to give a damn?

––You seem to give a damn.

––I do

––Ok, what kind of procedure was it?

––Abortion.

––What?

––I thought you were pro-choice

––What does that have to do with anything?

––I don’t know, what does that have to do with anything, Dan?

––It complicates things.

––Am I in the right place here? This is homicide, right? Homicide? Because this is homicide, Dan. It’s homicide.

What is happening here? A crime is committed ––a violation of human rights is committed–– and it is almost overlooked simply due ideological reasons, because it was related to abortion, and “it complicates things”. I say “almost” because eventually it is investigated further… thanks to several public servers that chose to do the right thing despite it was a professional risk for everyone.

What is the lesson that is worthy to be taught about this movie? This is the lesson: the defense of human rights is not and should not be transformed into an ideological issue. The defense of human rights must be unconditional: all human rights must be respected in everyone, everywhere, no matter what.

Affirming all human rights of everyone is not and cannot be related to being pro-choice or pro-life. It cannot be related to believe that Love is Love or that God is Love. Affirming all human rights of everyone must be done unconditionally. If a violation of human rights happens (life is a human right and the woman and babies that were murdered were denied that fundamental human right), it must be denounced clearly, no matter who commits it, and no matter how “ideologically uncomfortable” it could be, or how much “it complicates things”.

When we transform the defense of human rights into an ideological issue, a dehumanization process begins: human rights are affirmed only at the convenience of a certain ideological view, dehumanizing all those that are not convenient to that ideological view, and applying human rights only as it is convenient to that ideological view. I don’t know if you can see what is the problem here: the human life and the human growth becomes an ideological instrument of the socio-political order, instead of being an inalienable end of the whole socio-political order. What should be affirmed unconditionally in everyone ––their humanity, their human rights–– becomes an ideological commodity that is granted only to some.

Does this happen? Yes, it does. We are seeing public servers, businesses and politicians that clearly only promote and respect human rights according to their ideological view or according what is more profitable to them. We are seeing persons that in the name of the promotion of their ideology justify the violation of human rights of those who does not live according to that ideology.

Let’s give an example here.

A person creates a work of art that paints a God that is Love, promoting her faith accordingly (marriage is between a woman and a man, inspiring a new model of personal formation, etc…). Living that faith contradicts multiple ideological agendas of those who are in multiple positions of power and influence… (It actually contradicts any ideology that dehumanizes the human person, transforming him or her into an ideological instrument.) The work of art is meant to share God’s Love, but sharing God’s Love has several consequences that clearly contradict their ideological political agenda: defending all human rights of everyone, not consenting corruption, not consenting the ideological exploitation of persons… So on, so on.

So, the human rights of the person that created this work of art begin to be violated, done in such way that the violations cannot be proved legally. She begins to be tortured constantly ––psychologically torture that can turn into physical torture in certain circumstances–– in the plain view of everyone… All this done in order to break that artist in such way that is harder to her to live according to her faith and to live a normal citizen life. If falsification of reality is needed to break the credibility of that artist, so no one can takes seriously her words and work, it is done accordingly, even if it requires to provoke a false psychiatrical diagnosis made by multiple institutions, to manipulate her medical reports, to use court orders to force her to be medicated and alter her memory and her cognitive capacity… all this done in plain view of everyone, but the authorities and public servers that could do something about it not only do not do anything, but consent, participate and collaborate in the psychological torture, promote it and allow other people to participate, even if that means the exploitation of vulnerable people, like old people, disabled persons and kids that cannot reason by themselves what they are doing.

In this case doing something to denounce the violations of human rights would be “ideologically inconvenient”: defending the human rights of the person that made that work of art contradicts very “powerful” ideological agendas. It doesn’t matter that violations of human rights are being committed even by persons involved in government’s services: all that matters is to affirm their ideological agendas, even if that means to dehumanize a whole society, and even if the intention of the artist that made the work of art new was to oppose anyone, but just living her faith (that is another human right, by the way).

This is a very important detail: when anyone tries to dehumanize someone else, the dehumanized is the one that tries to dehumanize, and if it is a socially promoted death-culture, the whole society becomes dehumanized… I mean: when a whole society promotes to dehumanize those who doesn’t stand certain ideological view, or those who are inconvenient to a certain ideological view, promoting only the human right of a few, we face a systematic dehumanization system. Said in other words: we have an ideological concentration camp, like Auschwitz was.

So, do we keep the human rights violation proceed just because it is not pro-gender ideology, or pro-nationalism, or pro-socialism, or pro-populism, or pro any other ideological view? Can the defense the human rights of some ––of those who are convenient to a certain ideological view–– can be done by violating the human rights of others?

These are the kind of questions and situations that are possible when the defense of human rights becomes an ideological instrument. This cannot be allowed anywhere, anyhow, to anyone. When a violation of human right happens, we need people like the police men and women in this movie: public servers that are able to stand for human rights unconditionally, not because it is a pro-life issue, not because it is a pro-choice issue, not because it is a pro-ideology of gender issue, not because it is a pro-religious freedom issue… but because it is a human issue: when violation of human rights are systematically allowed, a dehumanization process is allowed, like it was during nazism, and this cannot be allowed, for only for the common good of our whole country but of the whole humanity.

As one of the police officers of the movie says: “The way I see it, you got a couple of choices here…” You have the choice of serve humanity’s common good and make possible to stop all kind of dehumanization… or you have the choice of serve ideologies and allow dehumanization and systematic violation of human rights to keep going on.

I made my choice: to serve the common good. I made this choice not only as civic duty, as a public service for my people and my nation, but as a faith duty, as a God-given duty: among the many things that radiating God’s Love implies, it implies to make possible that everyone can grow as a brother and a sister of the same human family, that everyone’s dignity can be recognized unconditionally. If violation of human rights are allowed, especially if they are systematic, that is not possible. You cannot radiate God’s Love and consent or even commit violations of human rights.

I don’t mind if some people say “this is about anti-abortion agenda, no one touches that…”, or “this is about anti-LGBTT agenda, no one touches that…” I even do not mind if some people say “this is just about pro-religious freedom agenda…” or “this is just about pro-life agenda…” Whatever side people see it, left or right, I don’t mind. Violations of human rights is dehumanization, and it cannot be allowed, no matter what. Human dignity and human rights must always be affirmed, no matter what.

All this may seem that is something that a government should do: affirming everyone’s human rights. It is true. A government should be ordered to make possible the recognition of everyone’s human rights, to make possible everyone’s growth in communion, as a brother and a sister of the human family whose human rights are unconditionally recognized, including their human right of life and freedom. When a government is not ordered to serve the person and violations of human rights begin to be allowed by public authorities, we can begin to talk about crimes against humanity…

But the truth is that we can also make possible the unconditional recognition of all human rights of everyone in our ordinary lives. The change doesn’t begin with the government: the change begins with each citizen. One citizen that chooses to stand for human rights is enough to defy a whole system that only promotes the defense of human rights of some, justifying the dehumanization of everyone else. As John F. Kennedy said: “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” I know what I can do for my country. As a citizen, I can promote unconditional recognition of all human rights of everyone, I can make possible that everyone can grow as a brother and a sister of the same human family, I can promote a non-ideological conception of the human person. As a Christian, I can make all that possible through radiating God’s Love unconditionally, giving a true hope to my people, to my nation and to humanity: no matter how gruesome dehumanization can become, God’s Love can make all things anew.

This is something that must be taught in all classrooms: the unconditional recognition of everyone’s human rights is not an ideological matter and it is not only a government’s duty. This recognition begins with each citizen, through choosing in our ordinary lives to help to grow everyone in communion, to recognize everyone’s human dignity unconditionally and to make possible that all human rights of everyone are unconditionally respected. This means to constantly choose to serve the common good, not the ideology of some. When you dare to choose this despite any kind of intimidation you may encounter, sooner or later you create the change that your country needs to recognize everyone’s human rights unconditionally, not only because you are pro-life, not only because you are pro-religious freedom, not only because you are anti-ideologies (any kind), but because you are pro-growth, pro-humanity and pro-democracy.

That is another very important detail: being pro-human rights also means to be pro-democracy. In order to promote democracy two very important things are needed: the rule of law and the right conception of the human person. Making possible that everyone’s human rights are respected is united with promoting the right conception of the human person. If you don’t have the right conception of the human person, you can’t affirm the human rights of everyone. When you make possible the right conception of the human person, you also make possible that all human rights of everyone are unconditionally recognized, and when that is done you are not only serving the common good by making possible that everyone can grow in communion, as a brother and as a sister of the same human family: you are also promoting democracy, promoting a social order that makes possible the best growth possible of everyone and for everyone.

So… we all have a choice to make in our ordinary lives, right here, right now. Do we stand for humanity or do we stand for ideologies? Do we promote ideological concentration camps or do we promote everyone’s best growth possible? Do we serve the common good of everyone or do we serve the ideological good of some? Do we promote a democracy or do we promote an “ideocracy”? Do we serve our country and our humanity or do we serve our ideologies? Do we promote the recognition of all human rights of everyone or we promote only the recognition of the human rights of some?

All those questions could be resumed in one: How I made possible today the recognition of everyone as a brother and a sister of the same human family?

This may also be asked in an even simpler way: do we choose to humanize or do we choose to dehumanize? Do we choose to “abort” humanity from our society or to radiate humanity to our society? Do we choose to serve a culture of growth or a culture of death, to serve a nation that helps to grows in communion or a nation that helps to dehumanize systematically?

I repeat again the phrase of the movie: “The way I see it, you got a couple of choices here…”

It doesn’t matter if ideological agendas “complicate” things: affirming everyone’s human rights, including the rights of those ––even children–– that are ideologically exploited, is a choice that is well worth the “complication”. That is what a true public server ––all teachers should be public servers–– is called to choose: to serve the common good, to affirm all human rights of everyone, no matter how complicated it can be. Teaching to answer this kind of questions wisely, to choose making the right choices ––and if the right choice is not possible, choosing to make the right choices possible…–– is part of choosing to serve the common good.

If you are a Christian, as I am, choosing to serve the common good also means to choose to radiate God’s Love unconditionally, no matter what, no matter who, no matter when, no matter how… because that is what a true Christian does: choose love over hate, choose a culture of life over a culture of death, choose peace over violence, choose fraternity over exclusion, choose patience over anger, choose mercy over worldly justice, choose humility over imposition of power, choose conscience over convenience… choose to radiate God’s Love with every choice.

So, what you are going to choose?

I have already made my choice, with all the consequences it may imply.  As a citizen and a public server, I choose to serve the common good. As a Christian, I choose to radiate God’s Love.

Let’s keep growing!

Toxic Dehumanization

Classrooms are not exempt of the many social problems that ravage our humanity. Today I am going to talk a little bit about one of those social problems: toxic dehumanization. What is toxic dehumanization? For explaining this I need to explain some details further.

It all began when someone told me he wanted to “eradicate toxic masculinity”. I had no idea of what that term meant. I do know what “machismo” is, but at that moment I had no idea that “toxic masculinity” is basically its synonym. The person then explained me that it was a term that was just created as a psychological disorder by APA…

Then the next day the famous Gillete ad came, and suddenly the term “toxic masculinity” was everywhere.

Well, as I see it, the true problem is not “toxic masculinity”. I am not saying that I agree with “toxic masculinity”, I do agree that it is a social problem. What I say is that “toxic masculinity” is a symptom of another disorder, instead of being a disorder by itself.

As I see it, the disorder behind “toxic masculinity” and many other “social disorders” is “toxic dehumanization”: practices that legitimizes a powerful ideological dominant position in society and justifies the subordination of the human common good and human personal formation to an ideology.

Let’s use the Gillete ad example. If this ad was truly meant to “eradicate toxic masculinity”, it would have not been used precisely to promote the use of psychological aggression (aka: violence) as an indicator of power, something that “toxic masculinity” promotes.

We can’t only promote “the best man can be”. We must promote “the best human being can be”. There is a slight different in seeking to promote only what can be good only to some and what can be good to all. Promoting only the growth of some is violence, if violence is defined as anything that violates human rights.

Something that is very commonly related to “toxic dehumanization” is doing everything just as an opposition to something or someone. Instead of affirming their being according who they truly are, they will affirm who they are according to who or what they oppose, because an ideology can’t be affirmed by itself, so it must be affirmed as an opposition to someone or something. Said in other forms: toxic dehumanization promotes the growth of human being as a process of opposition to who we are (a process of dehumanization, a process of ideological opposition to the human being), instead of being a process of affirmation of who we are (a process of humanization, a process of personal affirmation of the human being), as it should be. If you choose not to affirm what it is (the being), the only way you can affirm yourself is in opposition to the being. This applies one the almost–forgotten–by–everyone ontological properties of all beings: no being can be and not be at the same time.

Instead of affirming the truth (“this is dehumanization”), toxic dehumanizers will say “this is humanization” but only to promote the best personal formation possible of some: of those who are convenient to their “ideological dominant position”. All others who do not “comply” with that position will be seen as “opposition” to them. All others who are not convenient or important according to that position will be simply dehumanized.

If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, you will realize that this is happening today way too often and that toxic dehumanization ––a disorder that switches the social order from promoting the best growth of everyone to promoting the “ideological dominant position”–– is a very serious problem of our society, a disorder with many symptoms, like toxic masculinity. You can see toxic dehumanization in the poor people that die of hunger because there are not important as human beings to those who are only interested in promoting the ideological dominant position. You can see it in the so many children that instead of getting an education that is ordered to promote the best growth possible for everyone and making possible that everyone can be the best they can be, it is ordered to promote the ideological dominant position, leaving those who are not convenient to the ideological dominant position behind. You can see it in the many disabled, vulnerable and elderly people that are helped only if they comply with the dominant ideological position, of that are helped only in the way that it is convenient to the ideological dominant position, instead of being helped in the way that helps them grow as the best person they can be… so on, so on, there are many ways to see how toxic dehumanization ravages our society as a process of ideological opposition that happens inside out.

The only solution to toxic dehumanization is igniting personal humanization processes, igniting an integractive humanism, a new humanization: practices that legitimizes a human personal inclusive position in society, centering society in the human common good and promoting the best personal formation possible of everyone. There are so many ways to do this! Just be creative.

So, how to do this in the classroom? How to promote the human common good and the best personal formation possible of everyone in the classroom?

For me, the answer is: helping to grow unconditionally, contemplating everyone not only as a student –or a teacher, or a boss, or a director, or an administrator, or a janitor…–– but also as a human being that is in the middle of a growth process where mistakes are allowed and part of the process.

As a Christian, contemplating everyone as a human being is rooted in a very beautiful God-given giftedness: contemplating unconditionally in everyone the light of human dignity that God has given to every person, to every son and daughter of the Creator. No matter how a person behaves, he or she is not defined by his or her behavior. Every person must be defined primarily as God defines him or her: as a human being with a God-given dignity that must be respected unconditionally.

So, think for a moment: how can you start humanization processes exactly where you are? Whatever the answer is, dare to plan it and to execute it. Eradicating toxic humanization and promoting humanization processes everywhere is a duty not only of a teacher, but of everyone citizen interested in serving the common good, interested in creating a more human culture, a more human nation, a more human humanity… a better world for all, where anyone ––not only men, or not only those convenient to the “dominant ideological position”–– can choose to become the best they can be.