Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Value of Life

Recently, my dear readers, I've been considering the value of human life, both how we are valued by God and by society. I've come to some interesting conclusions that I would like to share with you, but I do want to forewarn you that they are interesting!

First of all, we must lay the groundwork. Human life is valued because God values it. Humans have a different value than anything else on earth, because we are the only creatures on earth made in the image of God. This is what distinguishes us from the beasts: we are like Him. I have pondered the soul/spirit of animals idea, and I have concluded that animals do not have a spirit, and I have also concluded that they might have parts of a soul...but that's a different post. :)

Next, what about the value society places on people? The characteristics promoted via the media tell us that beautiful bodies and intelligence are valued, but who decides what is beautiful and what is intelligent? I propose that not everyone agrees on what is beautiful or intelligent; in fact, I think that not everyone would agree with a dictionary's definition of either of those words. So what makes someone beautiful or intelligent?

Society would tell us beauty is possessing physical qualities that fall under a certain mold or model; intelligence is getting into the right schools and studying the right subjects and earning the right grades. But I think God's definitions are different. Again, this could go into a deep conversation about beauty and intelligence, and I hope that I will be able to come back to this and continue to explore the topic, but right now I really want to focus on the human value discussion.

So if society has specific definitions of beauty and intelligence, what happens to the value of someone who doesn't live up to society's standards? And I don't mean just the next John Doe off the street. I mean the mentally- and physically-handicapped, the "special needs," the "mentally challenged" group of people.

Unfortunately, they are labeled less-than-human or sub-human or some other derogatory, demeaning term that denies their true worth. As I've mentioned before, I'm reading a book series about Europe as Hitler reigns, right before World War II. The 5th book introduces a character named Alfie. Alfie was "judged to be mentally incompetent," and lived in a home for children like him. Some of his peers had polio or were paralyzed by other means; some had cerebral palsy and couldn't speak. As the Nazis took over Vienna, the homes that cared for these children were taken over, cleansed, and turned into hospitals for Nazi purposes. I'm sure you can imagine what is meant by "cleansed." I personally do not want to- it's too painful, too shameful to think about.

We've all read about it in the history books, but have we really considered the individuals involved? Have we put faces to the sheer numbers we read about? What will happen when we do? My dear readers, I hope that you recognize the value that all human life has, simply because it is a human life. I hope that these thoughts presented here cause you to value people more, as an act of worship to God, because it is His image represented in all of mankind.

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