“Irreconcilable” differences?

Found a fascinating article by Averthanus L. D’Souza (http://www.energypublisher.com/article.asp?id=19415 thanks @brrohama) on the recent controversy over Obama’s Notre Dame Commencement Address. The beginning was quite informative, but D’Souza was quick to castigate Fr. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame University, for the decision to invite Mr. Obama, on the grounds that

“In his ‘commencement address’ President Obama, commenting on the ‘abortion debate,’ explicitly admitted that ‘no matter how much we may want to fudge it… the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable.’ In view of this open admission of Barack Obama, how can Fr. John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame University, still argue that there is room for ‘dialogue’ on the issue?”

D’Souza then goes on to draw the parallel to the world at large and bids Obama to heed his own advice when addressing “enemy” foreign nations, since dialogue is not a substitute for moral action.

I don’t think it’s that simple. And I’m wary of D’Souza’s blanket statements on morality. An action is not necessarily ethical simply because it is moral, as morals are more personal and value-driven than ethics. It is self-destructive to refuse to engage in dialogue simply because of “irreconcilable” differences in morals, for to do so is to limit our ability to engage anyone other than ourselves. Moral codes are so individualized, I wonder if they’re not like fingerprints—unique to the individual that bears them. By only conversing with individuals and nations that profess a morality similar to our own, we cut ourselves off from meaningful debate that might stretch and grow us, forcing us to reexamine our own beliefs. While the ideological camps on any issue may be “irreconcilable,” the individuals who constitute those camps do not have to be.

Perhaps that is why so many of us refuse to engage the opposition.


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