Initial Thoughts on Evangelium Vitae, the Culture of Death, Rape Culture, and Hamilton Rule

John Paul II, in Evangelium Vitae, famously coined the term “culture of death.” According to JPII, the “culture of death” is a climate where human beings have become mere instruments of other human beings.

This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency. Looking at the situation from this point of view, it is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another. A person who, because of illness, handicap or, more simply, just by existing, compromises the well-being or life-style of those who are more favoured tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated. In this way a kind of “conspiracy against life” is unleashed. This conspiracy involves not only individuals in their personal, family or group relationships, but goes far beyond, to the point of damaging and distorting, at the international level, relations between peoples and States.

In JPII’s view, the “culture of death” included legalized abortion and euthanasia — all part and parcel of the use of others as mere instruments, and the war of the powerful over the weak. The culture of death is broad enough to include this newer notion of “rape culture,” but JPII was more far-reaching, far more inclusive and logically consistent, and far before his time. The “culture of death” is a better way to think of it, and “using others as mere instruments” is the root of the problem for each case.

It goes without saying that what bothers me most about Trump is the extent to which he proudly uses others as mere instruments — using his strength, using his fame, using “power” over the weak.

To contrast — what I’ve always loved about conservatism, in the United States, is that it has been the best political hope for combating the “culture of death.” Conservatism gives power to individuals, but emphasizes personal responsibility, a civic doctrine that affirms our personhood — it widens its notion of “personhood” to the weakest human beings among us, the unborn.

And here comes the Hamilton Rule. We can’t let the mascot for our “best hope” in the battle against the “culture of death” be a man who represents that culture. Never. Never Trump.