The Value of a Life

I have opinions. Strong ones. And I often share them. Sometimes with a side of snark.

But these days, I’m really trying curb that. At least publicly. And this blog post, it’s been stewing for days in my head. And I’ve tried to think about what I really want to say. And how I really want to say it. Especially because, as of late, the internet, it seems to bring out the absolute worst in us. No one’s political or any-other opinion has ever been changed solely because of a Facebook post or a tweet, no matter how well those posts and tweets are crafted. It’s noisy out there in cyberspace—edgy and cruel, even, at times—and I don’t want to add to the noise.

Still…I have some things to say. And I just want to ask this of you—hear me out. All the way to the end. And if you want be in conversation after, I’ll offer you the same courtesy. Deal? Here goes.

I believe these things to be true:

  1. That there is a God. And that God is first, and always, a loving God.
  2. I believe that same God created life. I could care less how it happened—7 days or a big bang or whatever. It makes no difference to me. I believe that same always loving God created life.
  3. Because of #1 and #2, I believe that life—all life—is sacred and of infinite value—worthy. No matter what. (Did you get that? Worthy. No matter what.)

Because of these three things I believe, these five current (and much talked about) realities break my heart into a thousand pieces:

  1. Hungry children.
  2. Violence, discrimination and/or abuse of any kind.
  3. Capital punishment.
  4. Abortion.
  5. The international refugee crisis.

(How many of you have already focused on #4 and are trying to pinpoint what I will say next?)

These five things, they break my heart because we have made very human, very painful, very vulnerable, very awful, very spiritual things nothing more than political issues. We’ve made people’s lives pure pawns in our political games. And I am sick to death of it.

Human life is not political. Full stop.

Hungry children break my heart because there is, across the globe, enough food for all of us. But we squirrel it away or make access difficult or refuse to find ways to get it to hungry people because of this business or that lobby or who will or won’t gain something from it. It’s such bullshit.

Violence, discrimination and/or abuse of any kind break my heart because I believe with all that I am that we were made for love. And when that having been made for love gets twisted into the horrors of war and gangs and rape and domestic abuse, we fail, miserably, at being human. Hurt people hurt others. And so the cycle goes.

Capital punishment breaks my heart because it means that somewhere, somehow, multiple lives have been ruined. Destroyed. Broken.

Abortion breaks my heart because it is, almost always, despite what many will try to tell you, the result of fierce desperation. I know folks who have had abortions. And NONE of them used it as “birth control.” In every case it was a painful, gut-wrenching, life-changing decision. And it was also a decision made because a caring woman believed she was making the best decision she could with the resources and information she had. My own journey to motherhood included years of fertility treatments—and so it’s hard for me, really hard, to think about a pregnancy being terminated…still…every time I’ve known about an abortion, it has been, as I have said, a decision made with utter heartbreak. I refuse to judge.

(As a site note to this—it also breaks my heart that adoption is so costly, so difficult for families, such a damned racket in some places. Adoption is one of the bravest and most compassionate things a person can do and we ought to be making it more accessible, more possible, for the families longing to love a child.)

The international refugee crisis breaks my heart because how in the name of all that is holy do we get off not helping people who are simply trying to survive? Who are running from war, from poverty, from oppression and just want a safe place to breathe and raise their families? Who are we not to lend a hand?

All this having been said, at the end of the day, these current realities I’ve named break my heart because at the root of all of them is this basic question: How do we value human life? Or, even, do we at all?

If you want to make a strong anti-abortion stance, by all means, do so. But then also help new mothers who need it. Also make a commitment to helping to care for those babies—through foster or adoption or outreach programs—that come into the world without the privilege or resources or support that you did. And make sure those babies and their mommas have health care.

If you want to rail about capital punishment—for or against—do it. But for the love of God, don’t make it about a political party. It’s life at stake—life, y’all. And any time a life is taken, it’s because others have been taken, too, and it is never, ever, as simple as we’d like to make it.

If you want to feed hungry children, please, in addition to making donations to your local food pantry, think about how you can part of a global solution. It makes no sense that millions of pounds of food go to waste in the United States while in our very own neighborhoods and sitting next to our very own children at school, there are those who simply do not have enough to eat.

If you want to do something, anything, about how we physically harm each other in this world, learn about sex-trafficking, learn to notice signs of domestic abuse, refuse to condone violence, and actively seek peace whenever possible.

(Again, a side note: I also believe war is sometimes necessary. And I give my full support to anyone who will fight when it is necessary to do so. Even as it breaks my heart.)

If you want to be a person who values life, you have to value all of it. Even the ones you don’t like or are afraid of. Even the ones that have hurt you. Even the ones that have gotten twisted and ugly and hateful. Those lives, the ones ending in utter heartache in desolation, they break God’s heart, too.

My point is this: At the end of the day, all these things we thrust to the political stage and fight over, they are questions about the value of human life. And these days, what seems to be residing in our hearts is the value of some lives over other lives. And this is simply not okay. On any front.

Call me wishy-washy. Accuse me of wanting to have it both ways. Whatever. But the truth is that we live in a very grey and complicated world. And our only salvation lies in navigating it together. In holding on to one another when things get particularly rough. In holding fast to compassion and respect. In listening as best we can. In stopping hate at every turn and loving, first, whenever possible.

There’s so much pain—in our personal lives, in our communal lives, in our world–when will we choose to be people who value life, so much that we seek to assuage one another’s pain instead of adding to it?

This isn’t politics. It’s valuing life. And we get to make the call on if we value it or not. And my guess is, if we do—if we choose to value human life as something sacred and of infinite worth—it would be a total game changer on every front.

Including Washington, DC., but most of all, in our own lives and communities.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “The Value of a Life”

  1. One of your best post ever.I agree with everything you say you are no way wishy-washy or anything else your heart is full of love we need more people like you in the world keep it up

  2. And all the people said, “Amen”! Thank you for your words….Words that I have failed at articulating as well as you did. Arguments on social media are futile & only serve to produce more division. I’m sad for the loss of compassion among people. I’m sad for the trend of hatred & anger I see among people. I’m sad that some of my fellow Christians mock those who try to be the voice for the voiceless. I’m sad…Confused, bewildered, sad. I pray that respect for all lives, for all people, will become our hallmark in America. Thank you, Julie. Thank you.

  3. In the past few days I have heightened my senses to people around me. What has spewed out of people I love has frightened me to my very core. Confused me and saddened me. From social media to social outings and even the workplace has become so depressingly raging with angry people.
    Sadly, every personal experience has been with Christians, proclaimed Christ followers.
    I am reposting your writings as I agree with every sentence. Praying it touches the hearts of many to the point they really do some thinking and praying of their own.
    You touched my heart, so I am going to work harder in forgiving and working as much as I can personally to make the world a better place for the next generation.

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