Sunday, February 24, 2008

Phones and Motorcycles

Not long ago, my wife had a post called "too bad I don't have a camera phone," which talked about some very Ukrainian cultural experiences. Yesterday, for a brief moment, I wished I had a camera phone to capture what I thought was going to be a very American cultural experience with Dietrich.

We were in a nearby mall and, while Josie shopped for a few things, I did my best to entertain Dietrich. It helped that there was an indoor skating rink (plastic, not ice) since Dietrich loves other little kids and can spend quite a while simply observing them. His dad, on the other hand, got bored after a while and looked for some other amusing distractions. I noticed a few of those riding machines for little kids—a spaceship and a race car, to be exact—but they required that you put the kid in them alone, so they were intended for kids a little older than little D. But around the bend I saw a few more machines—a horse and a police motorcycle, to be exact—and they were just Dietrich's size. I could stand nearby and hold him on the machine while it did its thing.

Next I tried to insert some coins. There was no way any standard Ukrainian coin was going to fit into the slot that seemed to be the intended place of insertion. I walked over to the spaceship and race car and noticed a sign (printed on a standard sheet of paper in Ukrainian, not Russian) that might have been telling me where to get tokens from, but I couldn't read it. I walked back to the horse and motorcycle and noticed the same sign nearly hidden between two huge, illuminated, protruding posters for clothing. Finding the sign wasn't much help, since I still couldn't read it, so I asked a nearby security guard how to use the machines and, since he answered me in Russian, I was off to get a coin.

$1.00 later, and for the first and last time at that price, we headed toward the motorcycle (no pink and baby blue horses for my son!). I put in the oddly but properly shaped token, held Dietrich on the motorcycle and we were off. That was the moment I wished I had a camera phone. But it was a brief moment. Within 5 to 7 seconds, he was certain that he did not like this black and white contraption with its flashing lights and poorly tuned, quite loud engine. I promptly took him off, gave him a few seconds to recover and gave it another shot. He let out a ear piercing shriek and we were done with the riding machine experiment for the winter of 2008.

No need for a camera phone just yet.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bad News for the Futrue of the Sanctity of Life Movement

Although it can be depressing to think about how little progress has been made in the fight against abortion and against the slow move toward the acceptance of euthanasia, one thing is encouraging—the debate has remained in the center of the public square. As long as sanctity of life issues are debated and discussed we can hope and pray that the maxim of Justin Martyr might eventually prove to be true, "it is not impossible to put ignorance to flight by presenting truth." Maybe, just maybe, we can persuade the public and influence the government of the atrocities of abortion and euthanasia by sticking to our consistent, rationally defensible and morally superior message of the value of all life. With these issues debated frequently and fervently, it could and should happen.

But our goals will be harder to attain if the debate simply fades into the oblivion of historical curiosity. If younger generations fail to see life vs. choice issues as worthy of sustained public attention, then our message will have not only intellectual, emotional and moral obstacles to overcome, we will have to overcome issues of general knowledge and basic awareness. According to an article in the Feb. 11 edition of Time, we might be facing just such a change. The article focuses on the youth vote in the '08 presidential campaign and the contributors make the following comment,

"Pollster Frank Luntz gathered a group of New Hampshire students on the eve of the primary there, and the hour-long conversation barely touched on the hot buttons of yore: abortion, crime and affirmative action. Their world, after all, encompasses RU 486, lower murder rates and Oprah. What concerns many of them is the nature of politics: the perceived gridlock of parties, conniving special interests and shallow biases of the media." p. 39

I won't dwell on the lack of substance in the group of issues that do concern this particular group when compared with the issues that they supposedly don't care all that much about. All I'll say is that I hope, for the sake of the human dignity issues, that this little sample of youth is not representative of the broader youth population. If it is, our job is going to get harder, not easier.