Friday, March 11, 2005



I took a couple of days off blogging because sometimes, when you look hard at the world and the values it seems to embrace, it's disheartening.

Death is valued over life, if the person doing the valuing doesn't think that the life involved has worth. But this is an awful lot like getting older. When you are six, twelve seem old, and when you are 15, forty seems forever. But when you are forty, sixty doesn't seem so old after all. The same is true with quality of life issues.

We strip personhood from people we deem to be undesirable. The unwanted unborn, the unwanted crippled, the unwanted. Once they lose their personhood, then people find ways to do whatever they want with them.

We see this acted out in multiple ways:

Abortion, of course. The ultimate sacrifice of personhood. It's not a person, just some tissue, therefore we can do what we want with the unborn. The mentally damaged, like Terri Schaivo.

But it becomes more subtle than that. Some places, its anti-woman. You commit a crime against another person in some places in the world, the females in your family or extended family can be made to pay part of the price with their own body, and then they are expected to kill themselves because they were ritually made impure.

In Darfur, it's perfectly ok to go and rape the darker ones because they are just whatever, infidels, darkskinned, or whatever. Their personhood doesn't count. You can see this pattern all over the world. Your group doesn't matter because you aren't like us. You don't have full-fledged personhood.

In America, it's even more subtle. For some, the person who has inadequate personhood is the person who disagrees with you politically. This person is open to having their tires slashed, their car keyed, property vandalized, to be told they should be euthanized, to be denied freedom of association, to be belittled in classrooms. For some, behaving like a normal member of your sex is enough to get your personhood threatened.

Yet there is a higher way to behave than Carthago delenda est.

Our country was founded on this idea, that goes back to the sacredness of human life, the respect in theory at least, of a variety of viewpoints, and a commonality of humanness that gives us all value:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

This concept, derived in large part, no doubt from the Judeo-Christian idea that we are all children of God, and all worthy to be treated with respect, give us a way around the denial of personhood that leads to so much of the world's tragedies.

It is an ideal, of course, one that fails often in the reality of day to day life, but one we should keep to the forefront. Like Abraham Lincoln, I would like to say:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us ... and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Can there be true dignity of man, true freedom that does not acknowledge the personhood of all people, rich, poor, high status, low status, vunerable, weak, strong and able?

We saw the ripples through the middle east of the taste of liberty that the Iraqi elections created, because the hope of another way, based on human worth.

Cathago delenda est
, the way of might making right is not the only way. But without valuing human life, there can be no true basis for liberty.

Thank you so much for posting about Darfur. I, too, am blogging about it ( I feel so much better that there are people like you out there!
Sometimes all this news is pretty tough on a person - keep up the good work!
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