See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 John 3
“We think the price is worth it.”
United States Secretary of State Madeline Albright
The last year has been truly remarkable in terms of the violence, terror, murder and chaos taking place in the world. The protests in our streets have reminded many in the United States of the tumultuous 1960s. Terror afflicts Europe and the World on a daily basis. The world seems to be descending into violence at an accelerating rate. I wonder why we are at all surprised.
For decades we have rationalized the erosion of human dignity. Our culture has practically forgotten that we are all children of God, the Almighty, and heir to the throne of the Creator of the Universe. He creates each individual human with a specific purpose and unique talents. He places His children in circumstances where they might be able to realize their value and live rewarding, fulfilling lives, enriching those around them. He carefully places each and every human in just the right place and at just the right time.
And then we take that life and we carelessly extinguish it. Whether the cause is abortion or war or gang violence or terror, it seems that the world no longer finds life to be precious.
The quote above from Secretary Albright was during an interview in 1996. Our Secretary of State was asked about the US sanctions that had been imposed on Iraq and at that point had cost the lives of 500,000 Iraqi children. The question was posed: “A half million children have died. That’s more than died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?”
Since my son was born the United States has been at war. The war(s) in the Middle East has lasted longer than any other war in our history. It has gone on for so long that I don’t think many people remember how it started. We are always told that war will be the last resort. I am beginning to think that it is the only resort. Robert E Lee commented “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.” I fear that governments have grown fond of war, especially given the disproportionate damage it bestows on its victims.
In the eyes of God ALL lives matter. That includes Afghani lives and Iranian lives and Syrian lives. Their lives are not less valuable. Their lives are not more disposable.
But war has been with us for centuries. Abortion is a more recent and subtle way that our culture cheapens life. The figures are simply horrific. The World Health Organization estimates that there are between 40 and 50 million abortions every year in the world. Let that sink in.
How many teachers and doctors are included in that death toll? Who among them was put here by God’s design to cure a disease? How many among them was given the special touch by the Almighty to alleviate poverty on our planet? How many lives could have been helped or saved by the fantastic amount of human capital that is far too often considered to be a burden?
The richness and beauty of the human experience that has been lost because of the hundreds of millions of lives that have been prematurely wasted should be enough to make us drop to our knees in despair. But it is so casually dismissed that it hardly warrants discussion anymore. Abortion is a stain on our civilization in much the same way as human enslavement was to an earlier generation.
Why have we forgotten about the beauty of human dignity? We are made in God’s image and He gives us each a purpose. It is not for us to decide whether the winds and waves of any given moment find value in that purpose. It is our responsibility to do with human life what we should do with any gift from God: nurture and protect it.
Every life has meaning but we see this most strikingly in stories of great accomplishment from people with humble beginnings. These stories inspire us and serve as a reminder that God’s special signature is on each of our souls.
Not many people know Norman Borlaug. Norman was born in Iowa to Norwegian immigrants in 1914. He attended the University of Minnesota and became a biologist. He invented a wheat variety with a stronger stalk that was disease-resistant. He is credited with saving the lives of over a billion people from starvation.
God can do amazing things with just one life. I encourage all of us to appreciate that gift in yourself and work to realize that potential. But mostly in today’s troubled world I implore all of us to recognize the God-given beauty in each other.