The Quality of Mercy

One of the elements that makes Western civilization unique is the unspoken recognition that we comprise a brotherhood against death. In the West, no one is allowed to go into the darkness in quietude or with indifference. When a small boat is lost, hundreds set out to search for it. When a hiker disappears, the area is combed thoroughly for weeks if necessary. When a small child lies deathly ill, the nation itself is mobilized. Nothing -- not convenience, not expense, not even the risk of death to the rescuers themselves, is allowed to get in the way. It is part of our religious faith, our literature and art, and our day-to-day lives. When the effort fails and someone is lost without trace, we brood over it for years, because it represents the breaking of an unspoken vow.

Progressivism, as part of its war against our civilization, has done its best to degrade this impulse. Through crime, where the fate of the victims has been rendered secondary to that of the criminal, through de facto legalization of drugs, the "victimless" crime that destroys multitudes, and the plight of the homeless, who die, in the mightiest cities ever created, in conditions of horror that simply would not occur in the poorest peasant village.

Now the progressives have taken aim at health care, in an attempt to turn the healing art, one of the most noble of human endeavors, into another moral cesspool. The impulse to snatch a fellow being from death where at all possible is to be replaced by a set of rigid, inhumane, and easily corrupted rules set not by doctors, philosophers, or theologians -- or even everyday people -- but by bureaucrats. ObamaCare is intended to replace the grand gesture, the extra mile, the simple act of decency with the obtuse grunt that "rules are rules". No exceptions, no special cases... unless you're related to Nancy Pelosi, maybe.

This week the rules came up against our way of life, and the rules lost. A child lay awaiting mercy. Her lungs had failed her, and she needed an exemption from one of those hyperrational "rules" -- that adult lungs cannot be used for children. The high priestess of our new order, Kathleen Sebelius, patron of abortionists, washed her hands of the matter. She turned her back on a dying ten-year-old and walked away.

Our culture did what it always does. The country at large arose in pure defiance. A judge intervened. The organs were found. Trained doctors and technicians devoted their time and applied their skills. At last word, the lengthy and complex operation was a success. The child is resting, ready to breathe once again on her own. 

This is the first chunk to be pried off the brutal and faceless facade of ObamaCare. It will not be the last. The rules will be invoked again and again, and will be defied again and again until that abomination is at last lifted from this society.

But it is more than that. It is a reaffirmation of what we are, and the tradition that we are heir to. It has been popular to assert that the axioms on which the West was based have vanished, have been degraded to a point that they have no application in this age. This episode makes it clear that no idea could be more mistaken. 

A long life and good health to Sarah Murnaghan, our congratulations to her parents, and our gratitude to Judge Michael Baylson and the specialists who saved her.

And the rules? To hell with them all.

If you experience technical problems, please write to