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Friday, August 01, 2003

More from the Vatican, more pontificating - and a little something about population density

... But not about gay marriage. Indeed, nothing new either since the document concerned was published 15 years ago. It is entitled Christifideles Laici and can be found here. This is all about the role of the Lay Faithful, and I am so far about three-quarters of the way through it. It is called an 'Apostolic Exhortation', which if you read it becomes fairly self-explanatory.

However, what I found interesting was one particular paragraph, which I quote (italics are in the original):

"The dignity of the person is the indestructible property of every human being. The force of this affirmation is based on the uniqueness and irrepeatibility of every person. From it flows that the individual can never be reduced by all that seeks to crush and to annihilate the person into the anonymity that comes from collectivity, institutions, structures and systems. As an individual, a person is not a number or simply a link in a chain, nor even less, an impersonal element in some system. The most radical and elevating affirmation of the value of every human being was made by the Son of God in his becoming man in the womb of a woman, as we continue to be reminded each Christmas."

This is an incredibly strong and hopeful statement. "... the individual can never be reduced..." . It seems, to me anyway, to be in some respects a very 'American' sentiment.

Which picks up on something I commented indirectly upon in my Vatican post yesterday. I am far more used, accustomed, and expect governments to interfere for perceived common goods. I suspect this is because America embodies individulism, most often through the First Amendment. Here in europe we are more collectivistic. Maybe that is a result of having so many people living together. The USA is, from a European perspective, and incredibly empty place. For example, I have no idea precisely how many times the UK could fit inside the USA, but I suspect it runs to the hundreds, and possibly low thousands. But the population of the USA is only about 5 and a half times greater than the UK.

I think I am going to do some more thinking and reading along those lines. What effect has the differing population densities had on attitudes / developments in the UK/Europe on one hand, and the USA on the other. I realise this is hardly new or original a thought (or rather, I assume it isn't), but it's always fun trying to work these things out on one's own.

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