Posted on January 31, 2015
Vatican takes wrong lesson from dove attack
On the last Sunday of January, the Vatican released the balloons of peace from St. Peter’s Square. You probably recognize this as a biblical allusion to the Great Flood, when Noah released a balloon that returned to him with an olive leaf in its beak. Mind you, balloons don’t have beaks, which is what made it so miraculous.
Pope John Paul II had started an annual tradition of releasing two doves on that particular day, but last year when Pope Francis let the birds loose, a crow and a seagull swooped down and attacked them. Under criticism from animal rights activists, he replaced the doves with “the balloons that mean ‘peace.’” He had to say that out loud, because nobody would otherwise have recognized that balloons meant peace, because they don’t.
Given his obvious desire to placate liberals, the pontiff could hardly have picked a less suitable substitute. As every good liberal pretends to know, helium balloons that land at sea are likely to choke dolphins. You’d think he’d be aware of this, from reading the “50 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet” poster that he’s probably got nailed to the door of the basilica. Never again should another whole school of dead dolphins wash ashore with deflated balloons clogging their blowholes.
Okay, so that’s never actually happened, but the point is that liberals feel that it has, which is reason enough to demand a ban on helium balloons. They’ve probably even dedicated an awareness week, complete with sensitivity ribbons and everything. The unseen effects of a balloon release are therefore worse than those of tag-team birdfighting. The fate of those doves remains unknown. They might have escaped relatively unharmed. The dolphins, however, are doomed to be slaughtered by those floating, manmade petroleum products, just as sure as belching cows will one day incinerate the earth.
The lesson the pope should have taken from the attack, and passed along to the liberals he means to impress, is that being peaceful did not assure the doves of peace, any more than Chamberlain’s declaration of “peace in our time” protected his nation from Nazi aggression. The way those bigger birds set upon the doves was actually a far more realistic outcome than the way the Vatican had planned it, with the doves flying off to presumably live happily ever after.
He could have demonstrated the folly of moral relativism, and pointed out that all four birds were not equally guilty of creating the violence. He might have used the occasion to explain the facts of life to the people with those “COEXIST” bumper stickers that depict the various letters as religious symbols. When the crescent “C” tries to kill all the others, it is not realistic to distribute blame equally, by complaining that those seven letters just can’t get along.
He might also have prodded the Church to reconsider its failure to distinguish between combatants in the Middle East. If it were up to the Israelis, they’d be content to live in peace, side-by-side with the Palestinians. If the Hamas-governed Palestinians had their way, Israel would be destroyed and all the Jews would be dead. To fault both sides equally for perpetuating a cycle of violence is morally vacuous, and Francis missed an opportunity to acknowledge as much.
Another lesson Francis could have taught was that peace and freedom are often in direct conflict with each other, and that therefore peace for its own sake is not always desirable. Those doves were at peace while they were caged, for instance, but peace at that cost is not acceptable for human beings.
Those Eastern European nations that fell under Soviet domination could not have had both peace and freedom. They could only achieve peace by surrendering their freedom, while staring down the turrets of a fleet of Russian tanks. The Warsaw Pact was officially and cheerfully titled, “The Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance,” but its non-Soviet signatories had been anything but befriended, cooperated with and assisted.
If he looked at it that way, perhaps the pope would stop making such oblivious statements about Communism, in which he seems to credit it with genuine concern for the poor. Maybe he’d write an encyclical on the comparative value of peace and freedom, and how they should govern our responses to terrorism, rather than tritely producing the latest tome of twaddle about “climate change.”
Instead, the lesson he’s taken is when the truth hurts, just make stuff up instead – like balloons that mean “peace.”
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