Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chen Guangcheng: Refuse Asylum?

I believe that sometimes we gain great insight into a problem, and its possible solutions, when we first view something seemingly unrelated “through new eyes,” and suddenly we see parallels we had not considered before, and solutions we didn’t realize existed.
This morning I read Psalm 102 with “new eyes”, and my thoughts drifted to two things in the news recently:  1) The Chinese activist/dissident Chen Guangcheng and the reason for his troubles with the Chinese government:  his criticism of forced abortions under China’s one-child policy, and 2) The Department of Health and Human Service’s mandate that all insurance policies in the United States include a specifically-designated fee to pay for abortions.
This is the time to have mercy …
He will turn to the prayers of the helpless;
He will not despise their prayers.
Let this be written for ages to come
that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord;
for the Lord leaned down from His sanctuary on high.
He looked down from heaven to the earth
that He might hear the groans of the prisoners
and free those condemned to die.
            --- Psalm 102
I know the moral-sounding logic of the Chinese government, which lures even some Christians to accept its abortion policy:  “Look, there are too many people here.  Many are starving and many more will starve.  Isn’t it a good thing to prevent this obvious starvation?”  And I know the moral-sounding logic of the HHS mandate:  “Look, there are some poor and weak women, and some who need abortions to save their lives, even if only for their mental well-being.  Isn’t this a good thing?”  The answer to both questions is only a yes if you begin from a flawed concept of morality.  The interesting point about Mr. Guangcheng is that he seems to HAVE a sound basis for his moral stand; a further interesting point is that Mr. Guangcheng is blind.  He is self-educated, and therefore likely has a sound understanding of natural law.
The Chinese government seeks to enforce its view of morality by imposing a huge penalty for anyone who seeks to have more than one child:  a forced abortion (or even sterilization, I’ve read).  It believes that a huge penalty will stop acts it wants stopped.  In the United States, I read an article that the mandatory paying for abortions by everyone is really a fine for abortions, and will in fact encourage everyone to have fewer abortions, to lower the fine on everyone, but of course that is a faulty logic.  A traffic ticket for speeding is designed to penalize and stop speeders, but if it should ever happen that governments decide it is a losing battle --- they can’t catch every speeder --- and decide instead to enact a “speeding tax” on everyone, the number of speeders will not decrease.  Rather people, who might have not have sped will rationalize “Well, I’m paying a speeding fine anyway; why not speed?”  The same holds true for a mandatory abortion fee:  it will encourage even unnecessary abortions, because the cost penalty is removed, and people of weak morality will be encouraged to weaken even further.
In China, some pregnant women are undergoing forced abortions; they must pay a horrible price.  In the United States, ALL people must pay the price for abortions.  In China if a woman morally disagrees with that policy, she is forced to obey.  In the United States if a woman morally disagrees with that policy, she is subtly encouraged to obey and her morality is deliberately tested in hopes of weakening it.  Which policy, I wonder, is worse:  the blatant wrong which you can see and fight, or the subtle one designed to weaken your resolve to ever fight again.  Mr. Guangcheng is said to be at the U.S. embassy in Beijing.  What a statement it would make to the world, not if the U.S. refused him asylum, but if he were to refuse the U.S’s asylum offer, because he deems U.S. abortion policies as bad as or worse than the Chinese.
Mr. Guangcheng is widely reported as being blind in the Western press, as a means of gathering sympathy for him.  From what little I have read about him, however, I suspect he sees many things very well, perhaps even better than many of us.  I pray that Mr. Guangcheng continues to see the truth about abortion, and that perhaps he might see even better --- and that we might also.   

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