Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Social Commentary: The Value of a Human Life

This was posted on the Facebook News Feed on March 16th: sick of this, a soldier who served 3 tours fighting for the freedom of afghans goes bonkers, it happens. How many americans are dead fighting for the freedom of that country! let it go and f@%$ them. (spelling and punctuation errors are theirs)

The person who posted this will not be named for many reasons, the most important of which is to protect their privacy. My intention is not to embarrass them but, rather, to call attention to what I believe is the statement's glaring insensitivity and down right dangerous pattern of thinking! And 16 people affirmed their support for that statement by indicating liked on the post. 16!!

The first thing that I noticed after reading the post was this person's FB profile photo. It was a lovely picture of a handsome couple playfully holding a doll. It might be described as idyllic. Good for them. However, for me, it provided a stark and frightening contrast to what was said in the post; f@%$ them? No - WTF?! What that soldier (who was later identified as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales) allegedly perpetrated was not war, it was murder! Now, I say this without judging Sgt. Bales. He must have been, at least at that moment, insane. Because no sane person would creep into anyone's home, drag their children from their beds and shoot them in their mouths!!! How would you feel if an "invader" (i.e. an armed man who is not of your country!) came into your home, grabbed your child and shot them in the mouth?! You would be RIGHTEOUSLY OUTRAGED, as are the Afghan people. Let it go? How do you just let something like that go? Bonkers was another word used. If it happened in America, we would be going APE SHIT!!

The statement goes on to say: How many americans are dead fighting for the freedom of that country! Although factually accurate, many Americans have died fighting there, it is also seriously flawed in philosophy. It is flawed because it implies that an AMERICAN life is more valuable than anyone else's. How many THOUSANDS of Afghans, most of them civilians, have died?! This is the height of hubris that results in a poor image of Americans when we are considered with a world view. Many people from around the world now share the sentiment of who do they think they are?! And it has left us with a lot of enemies, even where there were once some friends to be found. No, my compatriots, ALL HUMAN BEINGS are precious - the most precious commodity on earth. The sooner we think that way, and, more importantly, TREAT ALL PEOPLE that way, the sooner we will avoid horrific tragedies like the one allegedly committed by Sgt. Bales.

My posted responses did provoke some very positive messages in support of my way of thinking. In fact, the original author backtracked somewhat trying to explain that no harm was meant. And I don't believe that was the initial intention. It just seems thinking like that is somehow ingrained in our American consciousness. But it's time to change. In one response to me, the author suggested that the intention was to express empathy for the sacrifices that our troops have made on our behalf. I understood, but also suggested that if we adjusted our thinking to treat ALL human beings with respect and dignity it just might not be as necessary to put so many of our young people in harms way. The response was simple: agreed. 'Nuff said.

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