Sacred Dignity

Michelangelo CreationThe belief in the dignity of every human being is based on the Genesis account of creation, that we are made in the image of God. The Judeo-Christian tradition celebrates this idea that there is a sacredness, a holiness, to all human life. Our system of laws and our identity as free nations in the Western tradition are founded on this idea.

And so it is vital that we do not disparage Western civilization. We must not equate our values to those of other cultures, as if there were no difference, but rather give place to the Western tradition as vitally superior, a way that respects human dignity.  There is a moral hierarchy, with judgment and approval, and we desire to preserve our own culture in a world that seeks to destroy it.

Being made in the image of God makes us different from other animals, for we are given the ability to reason. We seek truth and ferret out lies. We are blessed with minds that sift and sort facts in order to conclude. We recall the past to conserve its best for the present, so that we may effectively plan the future. And we do this to provide for our children, the next generation, stamped with this sacred dignity as we have been.

Our belief in human dignity is the foundation of our desire to do right and eschew wrong, to uphold truth and expose lies. And so it is troubling to see the public twisting of truth today – Ms. Clinton’s hiding of state emails and lying about them; the mainstream media’s near cover-up of her obstructions; her lying about the Benghazi attacks on September 11, 2012 when she claimed they were a reaction to a video. Lies about lies, covering-up cover-ups. It is deeply troubling that Ms. Clinton, who clearly sees herself as privileged and above the law, is running for the presidency of our nation, a country based on equality before the law.

Our belief in human dignity, the foundation of this equality, also raises concerns when government allows some racial groups to be above the law and others left unprotected. Where police presence is threatened by cellphone cameras, as it increasingly is, those same communities become victims of their own violence. Most black crime is caused by blacks, not police, and those rates are rising rapidly with the retreat of law enforcement in black neighborhoods. According to FBI Director James B. Comey, in a speech at the University of Chicago Law School, October 23:

“Something deeply disturbing is happening all across America…something has changed in 2015. Far more people are being killed in America’s cities this year than in many years…. far more people of color are being killed… And it’s not the cops doing the killing.. We need to figure out what’s happening and deal with it now.”

Without the rule of law and its enforcement, the truth of sacred dignity is forgotten. Chaos reigns, tribes war against one another, families feud for power, and a jungle culture becomes the new American way. Civilization crumbles, dignity disintegrates, spirits shatter.

The belief in the value of human life is an exceptional one, unique to the West and its children of many races around the globe. The twentieth century saw this belief erode when the false narrative of population explosion swept America, propelled by the mainstream media. Paul Ehrlich, a biologist with no credentials as a demographer, wrote The Population Bomb in 1968. This myth of overpopulation birthed the United Nations Population Fund and the Malthusian Club of Rome. Indira Gandhi’s government forcibly sterilized eleven million, among whom 1,750 died. China’s one-child policy, supported by UNICEF, was rigidly enforced, causing a surfeit of boys and a disappearing work force, not to mention the tragedy in human lives. As Bret Stephens writes in the Wall Street Journal: “It’s not surprising that someone like Mr. Ehrlich, trained as an entomologist, would be tempted to think of human beings as merely a larger type of insect.” The lie was lucrative, providing posh conferences and bestseller books, becoming self-propelling.

The truth is that the world’s population could fit comfortably into an area the size of Texas. But without belief in God and the sacred dignity of his people, interest groups seek power and wealth at the cost of truth.

The importance of Western values is seen in a story told by Jonah Goldberg in National Review about General Charles Napier, British commander-in-chief of colonial India. General Napier was asked by Hindu priests to be allowed to practice their venerable custom of sati, where widows throw themselves onto the funeral pyres of their husbands, sometimes forced to do so. The general replied,

“Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”

Not all cultures and customs are created equal; we must evaluate and judge according to our founding belief, the sacred dignity of every human life. We must follow the Napier Doctrine.

In another instance, Mr. Goldberg cites the New York Times’ report that American soldiers have been ordered to ignore child rape by Afghan soldiers, even on U.S. bases. Special Forces captain Dan Quinn retaliated against an Afghan commander who kept a boy as a sex slave. Quinn was removed from his command.

Mr. Goldberg suggests an etiquette manual for Afghan troops that would include: “Do not rape young boys when you are a guest of the Americans. If you wish to follow your own customs in this matter, take note: It is an American custom to beat the stuffing out of men who chain up and rape young boys.” Hooray for the Napier doctrine.

We honor Western civilization. We celebrate the dignity of persons of any age, any class, any race, any gender, any place. We judge other cultures based on this belief.

For we are made in the sacred image of God.

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