“There is no absolute truth.”
This is just one of the many zingers Ms. Nadine Strossum, first female ACLU president, launched at UNC students at Tuesday night’s CSFL-sponsored debate. Both Strossum and her counterpart, Mr. Scott Klusendorf (president of the Life Training Institute), are renowned as formidable figures in the heated abortion controversy. Tuesday night, however, Ms. Strossum’s argument simply did not hold. Perhaps it was the fact that she bemoaned the widespread problem of “tragic” unplanned pregnancies, yet made known her advocacy for the “benefits” of pornography, a practice that has been proven to increase the amount of violent or irresponsible sexual acts that gives rise to such problems. Perhaps it was the myriad of logical fallacies that reared their heads throughout the night, including the ever-popular bandwagon appeal—the fact that numerous religious people have accepted abortion as a viable option validates the act. Or, possibly, it was the fact that she emphasized her respect for “life in all its many manifestations” and shared a personal anecdote about how she refused to kill a housefly, but fully accepted the extermination of a human life, even if just a “potential” one.
Yet most absurd of all was her following claim. Ms. Stossum alleged that “at the heart of liberty is the right to define your own concept of existence.”
It is chilling to imagine a world in which fallible individuals are permitted to define the nature of personhood for themselves. If the definition of personhood were to change based on the individual, it becomes clear that abortion is a non-issue; it is simply a decision to be made based on personal circumstance. But were personhood to be accepted as nebulous at the prenatal level, post-birth would not be a far cry away—this is an eerie prospect.
Moreover, acknowledging this ambiguity denigrates the value of the human person. Deciding on what defines a person should not be on the same level as choosing a profession or interpreting a piece of art. What a human being IS does not change capriciously. To say that a person’s choice to define what he IS surpasses his value is logically unsound and entirely nonsensical.
Further, Ms. Strossum declared, with certainty, that there is indeed “no one absolute truth.” This, I suggest, represents the crux of many deep-seated issues. To assume that nothing is absolute or certain leaves room for unsettling ambiguities like the question of personhood.
An ancient oracle at a temple in Delphi, Greece reads: “KNOW THYSELF–” a phrase today employed generally in sappy leadership trainings, but which holds a serious weight. Know yourself—know first what you are. At the very least, pinning down this essential fact is crucial to having a sound perception of our frequently turbulent world.