Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Laws or lack thereof - do they pass human dignity test?

Slavery was always part of human history. What suddenly made it so bad?
Slavery was never intended to be a lifetime condition until Europeans enslaved Africans in the American continent. Slavery was never so inhuman until it got to the American continent.

As for inhuman conditions, the slave ships packed as many people could fit in a small space, with no regards for personal hygiene or the need to breath. Probably so that they could bring as many of them as possible to sell for a profit. Sell for a profit - nothing wrong with that. We're in business to make money, right?

One of the must famous Brazilian poets, known as the Poet of the Slaves, wrote about the horrifying conditions of the slave ships. Slaves in Africa were used to being enslaved, it was part of life. They were not used to the inhuman conditions and treatment until they stepped into the slave ship. What's wrong with wanting a profit, you still ask?

As for lifetime slavery, the African people were not used to the idea of lifetime slavery either. African royalties could be made slaves and then be set free again. As it had happened in so many other cultures throughout history. Slaves in the British colonies actually used to have the right to buy their freedom... some of them owned land and even had servants of their own...for a little while.
But then the law changed:
-Slaves had to be African or Indians
-Slaves could never be set free.
-Africans had no right to own land. The ones that did had their land repossessed.
Why? Why did the government make these laws thwarting the rights of human beings just because they were different?
The answer:
-There was an economical need for it. The landowners needed more workers and the free ones wouldn't do the hard work needed. Without those slaves the plantation would fail, the economy would crash, the society would flunk. There was a pressing need for stricter slave laws. The economy needed. Yes! Indeed! Would want business to fail for lack of workers?
Nothing wrong with wanting people to work to keep the economy flowing well.

In the name of keeping the economy afloat we should pass laws that disregard the rights of certain people, namely the ones who don't have, so that other people, namely the ones who have, can keep things going. What's wrong with that, you still ask?

These are all very practical ideas from a timely perspective.
Are they honorable ideas from a timeless perspective?
As a Christian, we must understand that God values humans. And as the crown of creation, we are endowed with human dignity that another human does not have the right to take away in the name of profit or progress.

What about us? Look at the things you believe in. But really look at them. At their core.
The things we believe today, the things we fight for today, the things we bless today, do they have very sound practicalities that will be best for the well functioning of the society as we know it? Are they logical and good to the free market we so cherish?
However will they stand the timeless test of honoring human dignity?
500 years from now, when Christian kids think of the things we stood for in a society that will not mean much for them then, will they think of us as awful people who did everything it took for society to thrive? Or as people who were more concerned about the absolute value of a human being?
Yes, human beings have absolute values. And this is the real test for any new laws or lack thereof: Do consider, above all else, human dignity, regardless of color, race, social class, age, born or unborn status?
Do we put practical above honorable?
I don't care how good or bad something will do for society or for the economy. If our thinking can not stand the human dignity test, it will not be justified in history. It will not be justified before God.
How do you want to be remembered 200, 300, 500 years from now? How do you want to stand before God in no more than 100 years from now?

Disclaimer: I am not writing against any specific practices or ideas in here. I am just asking you to question your beliefs - your beliefs, not those of others in the present or in history - and see if they pass the test that God would probably use.

No comments: