Anyone who read the morning papers here in New York — and I presume elsewhere in the country — saw the pictures of the Al Smith Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria. There were pictures of Cardinal Egan sitting next to Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama, and with many other New York and national politicians. All the important people, the movers and shakers, were there in white or black tie, evening gowns, and everything. The politicians got to yuck it up, with the jokes given to them by professional joke writers and the teleprompter to help their delivery.
It was a gala event, and it raised a lot of money for Catholic hospitals and other institutions. That’s a good thing.
I don’t usually get invited to the Al Smith Dinner, unless there are extra seats available and they need to round up the usual suspects. Instead, I had the good fortune to go to the Human Life Review dinner at the Union League Club. I sat with Peggy my wife (dressed to the nines, I might add), and some of the guys from the Respect Life Office. We had lots of fun, and I have no doubt that I got the better of the deal by being at the Union League Club instead of the Waldorf.
We didn’t hear purchased jokes, or any of that kind of thing. Instead, we saw some heroes of the cause of human life receive awards: Wesley Smith, and Rita Marker. Another hero, Nat Hentoff, introduced them. The night was hosted by two other heroes, Faith McFadden and Maria McFadden Maffucci. Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo, also spoke.
You probably have never heard of most of these people, but you should have. Their pictures aren’t on the front page of the paper, but they should be.
Few people in the world have done more to fight against the insidious threats of euthanasia and assisted suicide than Wesley Smith and Rita Marker. They don’t hide behind euphemisms or canned humor, but speak plainly about threats to human life, and the debasement of our culture. They spoke movingly about the preservation of human life being our highest moral ideal. It was a great event.
Events like the Al Smith Dinner are important. We need to keep our institutions open, and we need to deal with Caesar so that we’re not too heavily persecuted. But events like the Human Life Review Dinner are more important, in my humble opinion. We need to be honest about what is going on in our society. We are in grave danger of going from tolerating the destruction of life, to accepting it, to encouraging it, to requiring it. Our children are being raised in a culture where it doesn’t seem to be a big deal that life is so easily disposed of.
That’s nothing to laugh about, even with professionally written jokes.