John Paul II gave us all a tremendous gift by endorsing the terms Culture of Life and Culture of Death. But as with all great gifts, we must guard these terms carefully so as not to wear them out with misuse, robbing them of their relevance. Unfortunately, this is precisely what is happening in the current debate over CAFTA. A group called Catholics for Faithful Citizenship (PDF) claims the following: “Clearly, supporting CAFTA is inconsistent with upholding a culture of life.” They provide a list of vague quotes by a Colorado bishop and conclude (somehow–I cannot quite follow their reasoning) that free markets are “clearly” inconsistent with a culture of life.
To jump immediately to rhetoric like this–and what’s more, to do so without an actual reasoned argument behind it!–is not only irresponsible, but smacks of trite political lobbying. If this group is truly concerned with a better society, they will consider the freedom inherent in the people for which they claim to advocate and allow them fair access to greater markets. They ought to use some economic prudence here instead of resorting to sound-bite politics, throwing around “culture of life” as if it were the latest political buzzword.
Instead, they have slapped this powerful term onto their half-reasoned view of CAFTA, capitalizing on the term’s moral connotative power, using it to advance a half-truth. It is crucial that sound economic thought is employed by Christians before tossing out irresponsible rhetoric involving our most powerfully relevant terminology. Otherwise, we appear to be no different than other flapping mouths blasting the landscape with an irrelevant wind.