Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Respecting Human Life

I was sitting at my computer at 3:22 when I first saw a friend on Facebook post about the explosions in Boston. The questions began racing. How many explosions? Where? When? Accidental or intentional? If intentional, by whom? Why? How many were hurt or killed? Would there be more? The same questions everyone else was asking.

I checked headlines and footage trying to understand exactly what had happened. And I mourned for those killed, those hurt and those afraid. It was a sad day in Boston yesterday.

But something bothered me. I wasn't surprised. Unlike September 11th all those years ago, there was no shock. And I thought I should be shocked. I should be rocked to my core that an American city was bombed, that Americans were hurt or dead. So I searched for footage thinking maybe it just hadn't sunk in yet. I watched video of the bombs going off. I saw people thrust away from the explosion. I saw runners fall. I saw photos of people running, crying, and bleeding. It was all horrible. And yet I couldn't shake myself into being shocked. It seemed to make twisted sense.

I've been following the Gosnell case and tried to help via Facebook with spreading the word last Friday. (I have a Twitter account but I don't use it.) So I thought maybe I'd just become desensitized to the violence but this was a completely different kind of violence and I hadn't thought much about the Gosnell case since last Friday. Maybe there was just something wrong with me.

But I began asking why this would make sense. And pieces began to fall into place. We live in a disgustingly violent world, violent globally and across our country. Internationally, we are neither loved nor respected as a country. At home, our country is divided on most issues. Maybe once America stood for something brave, something honorable, something true that demanded respect and admiration. It doesn't anymore. Not abroad. Not at home. 

Rebecca Hamilton over at Patheos has a piece up that got closer to what I was trying to put my finger on:
The only way to become safe from other people is to structure our society in such a way that we end the continuous abuse and disregard of our children. We must stop raising up psychopaths. To do that, we’ve first got to admit that we are doing something wrong. I see a complete refusal to acknowledge that running throughout our public discourse....If we are going to stay sane as individual people, we must accept the reality of our lives for what they are. That means accepting that Boston, Sandy Hook, Aurora, the Amish school girls, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Oklahoma City and even 9/11 are not isolated events. They are part of our national life. They are what happens. We have to face the horror of their having happened and add the certainty that they will happen again on top of it, then learn to live with this bitter knowledge. 
She points out that there is something inherently wrong in how we are doing things and until we address the fact that we are doing something wrong and try to fix it, this sort of thing is going to continue. 

She points out though that
That does not mean that we have to learn to accept it. It means that we have to stop viewing each horror as a separate event and realize that they are all connected in the psyches of those who commit them. This indifference of killers to the people they kill is not new. 
She connects all these events to the simple and blatant disregard for human life. Our country has embraced a culture of death for decades, most obviously in our propagation of abortion. And America hasn't just defended the "right" to kill the innocent at home but also encouraged it abroad. Without any inherent and communal understanding of the dignity of the person and the inherent value of human life, why should such events be surprising?

Anyone who has read the grand jury report of the Gosnell case and not been repulsed and horrified at what he has done has no humanity. His abused of women and murder of babies is mind-blowing yet Gosnell is where abortion has logically led. Melinda Henneberger wrote in the Washington Post that 
Gosnell himself seemed confused, when he was charged with so many counts of murder, as to how that could be. Because even at that point, he didn’t appear to see the children he’s accused of beheading as people.
He remarked of one baby who's neck he "snipped" that he was "big enough to walk him to the bus stop" yet he didn't see them as people. Think about that. Is my 3 month old a person? my 2 year old? How about my 5 year old? My 7 year old? My husband? James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal writes
When you dissent from Roe v. Wade, you notice that people committed to the pro-abortion side almost never acknowledge that the question of abortion poses a conflict of rights or of legitimate interests. Try to pin them down as to where they'd draw the line--at what point in fetal development does abortion become unacceptable? It's pretty much impossible. The court in Casey said abortion could be restricted after 23 to 24 weeks, earlier than Roe's 28 weeks, but groups like Planned Parenthood oppose restrictions on late-term abortion, too. All they care about is "a woman's right to choose."The line-drawing exercise is indeed a vexing one. We aren't "pro-life"--which is to say that we do not favor the outlawing of all abortion--and not only because of the difficult cases Simon notes. Our own moral intuition is that an early-term abortion, or the use of an abortifacient to prevent implantation, is different in kind from a late-term abortion or infanticide.But we concede that intuition is irreconcilable with the scientific fact that the difference between a zygote and an infant--or, for that matter, an adult--is one of degree: All are the same human being at different stages of development. (To be sure, the natural occurrence of apogamy, or monozygotic twinning, makes that last statement a bit of an oversimplification, as do recent and prospective technologies like in vitro fertilization and cloning. That doesn't make the puzzle any easier to solve.)Any line one could draw between acceptable abortion and homicide would be an arbitrary one. Both extremes in the abortion debate are united in rejecting the line-drawing exercise in principle for that reason. But either "principled" position leads to monstrous results.
Once you start declaring any human life as expendable, the question becomes how to decide which ones can be terminated and which can't. Are 6 week old fetuses expendable? 12 week old fetuses? 24 weeks? 9 months? Babies? Toddlers? School children? Women? Africans? Americans? Jews? Christians? Who decides and how? 

The ugly truth is that America has been "playing God" with human lives for decades, so while events like Boston, Sandy Hook, Aurora, the Amish school girls, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Oklahoma City and even 9/11 are heartbreaking, they should not be surprising.

There is hope though. America still has many good people. We are not a nation beyond hope. But if we are going to stop the blatant disregard for human life, we must become a nation united in the protection of life. Regardless of religion, science confirms that a unique human being is created at conception and in order to be the "land of the free" we must begin with the understanding that the first freedom must be the freedom to live. If we want to see less death, we must stop sacrificing at the altar of death. America must become a defender of life, every life.

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