I often read the news headlines of the world and am consistently stricken by the lack of empathy in the world. It seems that many of the issues we face comes down to the perceived value of humanity. After a lot of thought, I’ve put my finger on the viewpoint I’ve had for quite some time – it is a silent notion that I’ve carried in my heart that I have finally found the words for:
The value of each person on Earth is precisely 1.
Too often, as a global society, we excuse appalling actions by placing slightly less value on those affected negatively and/or valuing those that would gain from these actions as slightly higher.
There was a situation a small while back where a group of Marines overseas posted a video on YouTube of themselves celebrating the death of an enemy by urinating on the corpse. The small-town newspaper op-ed columnist addressed this from the angle of “Why would Marines video such a thing?” I was appalled. The outrage was not the act itself, but the fact that they allowed themselves to be caught performing it. The author writes, “What part of ‘if there isn’t any proof it didn’t happen’ don’t young people understand today?'”
What value does this writer put on the lives of those fighting for us versus fighting against us? It certainly isn’t 1:1. When a commenter pointed out the discrepancy of due outrage between this violated combatant and fallen US soldiers, he was railed on with comments such as, “I do not have the time nor the inclination to banter this with you. I will NEVER equate those enemies with my son. How dare you say they are equal.”
But aren’t they? They are frightened young men that believe in a strong cause of religious and/or social superiority and will fight any force that threatens those beliefs. They are sons, fathers, brothers, friends. They are people and their value is “1”. Our soldiers are frightened young men that believe in a strong cause of religious and social superiority and will fight any force that threatens those beliefs. They are sons, fathers, brothers, friends. They are people and their value is “1”.
Indeed, problems arise when we either devalue others or overvalue ourselves… even just a little.
Gay Marriage is frowned upon by a much larger percentage of people than the notion of “Civil Unions”. We will give them all the rights they want, but we’ll call it something different. Why is that a problem?
It’s a problem because it is clear that the value of their love, their relationships, and indeed, their humanity is being shown at 0.99999999. They want to be 1… and they should be.
People of faith can equally overvalue themselves. Not all, mind you – many, if not most, are content to live their religious lives as they see fit in peaceful recognition. However, when an individual of faith values themselves at 1.1 and believes that it is their job to “fix” others through continual harassment, or worse, legislation… that’s when problems arise.
It’s a difficult thing, I’ll admit. I try to live my life as a good man, a good husband, and a good father. It would not be a difficult task for me to value myself at a higher rate than someone I find morally bankrupt or personally repugnant. What we need to do is recognize and draw a clear separation between what our opinions can be toward an individual and what rights we attempt to choose for that individual. I may not agree with the Westboro Baptist Church, but I would not attempt legislation that would silence them. I may dislike and distrust, as I have said in this very blog, people that remain purposefully unread, but I would not force them at gunpoint to pick up a book. I may disagree with the methods and fundamental principles behind those that we go to war with… but I do not mourn less for those fallen soldiers than our own.
They are people… and in my heart, I believe that the value of each person on Earth is precisely 1.