- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 22, 2006

Why do we care when our Mothers and Fathers enter the darkness of Alzheimer’s disease, lose their minds and become physically decrepit and unalterably old? Why do we oppose capital punishment, the so called “death penalty”?

Why do some reach out to orphans and lost children and other “people without voices”? Why did Abraham Lincoln and the United States turn away from slavery and make the Emancipation Proclamation the law of the land?

Why do charities and half-way houses, drug clinics, orphanages, refugee help organizations and other social services exist for people who are too old, too poor, too broken, too enslaved or too lost to help themselves?

These are pertinent questions all thinking persons might ponder. Or should. And we ponder them especially today during the annual “March for Life” anti-abortion day, coinciding with the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.

The root answers to all these questions, and the answer to the question of why so many object to abortion, is simple: Enlightened men and women believe in the special dignity and sanctity of their fellow man. Simply stated: Each man and woman is so unique, so capable, so intrinsically close to God that doing violence to a fellow man, killing and even aborting, can never be acceptable.

The first drives of a cognizant human being all include staying alive: eating, fleeing when threatened or in fear, striving to stay healthy. Animals have some of these same drives.

But we humans have other natural drives: We are repelled by irresponsible violence visited by one human being on another. We cringe at the sight.

The key thought is: “so intrinsically close to God.” Man is God-like. This is a truth so obvious, simple and fundamental that the belief is a “core value” of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

The Bible’s first book, Genesis, (1:27) teaches “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female; He created them.” Scholars note being created in the image of God (imago Dei) means more than having certain abilities and attributes. It means humans are the images of God, regardless of what they can or cannot produce for the economy, what they look like, how they act. Bearing the image of the Creator is a privilege extended uniquely to humans. No animals or other “creation” can make this claim.

America is deeply rooted in accepting this special place, this sanctity, of human life. The Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” And the sentence immediately before in the Declaration is also illustrative of God’s special place in man; or man’s special sanctity: “When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.”

So, we in America have a conundrum. Defined as “a paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma,” a conundrum is a “Catch-22” many find impossible to square with their real beliefs. We, many of us at least, shudder at the thought of covering Mother’s face with a pillow and killing her even though she is certain to die soon anyway.

We, at least many of us, are reviled by the killing of our fellow man, even if he or she has committed some heinous crime. Even if he or she has murdered another. And we, at least some of us, are moved by hunger, troubled by war, tearful at the sight of helpless and hopeless peoples.

And we, at least some of us, decry abortion: an act of violence and death against another human being. In America, where “all men are created equal” by law, where “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,” we are troubled by a law that clearly seems in disconnect, in violence to God’s law.

Emma Lazarus wrote the words on the Statue of Liberty, greeting newcomers to America: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

America has been the welcoming nation for the “homeless, tempest-tossed” for generations, for two centuries and more. America remains the beacon of hope, and freedom and dignity for many “people without voices” in the world today. Why then do we turn our backs on the unborn, the most helpless manifestation of God’s gift to mankind?

John Carey is a Falls Church free-lance writer specializing in American history.

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