The Sanctity of Life, Unborn and Prisoners
HB189 is a proposed bill which would repeal the death penalty in Wyoming. It is an important bill. One might ask, “How could a single statute change the path that our culture of death is on?”
In our sound-bite age, many do not take the time to ask important philosophical questions like, “What is right? What is wrong? And why?” Instead, many young people are now simply asking, “What is legal?”
Our laws, then, have an instructive moral element to them. We can go on preaching about “sanctity of human life” and “dignity of human persons,” until we are blue in the face. But our young people are very smart, and they are far more interested in what we do than in what we say. As long as we go on justifying the destruction of defenseless persons, the message they will continue to receive is that the value of a person is relative.
St. Teresa of Calcutta used to say that abortion was the greatest destroyer of peace in our day. She was right. But we might also say that when we rationalize the destruction of defenseless persons at any age or circumstance, we are robbing the world of peace.
With so many different world views and ways of thinking, it’s natural that we would struggle to get along. Doing so takes a leap of faith which requires us to assume the good intentions of one another. But when we rationalize the destruction of human persons, whether they are unborn or in prison, we make it harder for everyone to make that leap of faith. If I have no aversion to destroying people, why would anyone assume that I would have an aversion to lying to people? How can I make an appeal that they should assume my good intent if I have blood on my hands?
Life is either sacred in every case, or it isn’t sacred in any case.
If we believe that all human life is sacred, then things become very simple for us. Not necessarily easy, but simple. It means that we have to tread lightly when we approach matters of life and death. Like Moses, who removed his shoes when God told him he was standing on sacred ground, so we must walk softly when we talk about the mystery of life. In so doing, we will have a solid, immovable foundation from which to consider all other questions.
If we should think that life is not sacred, then we open the door to rationalizing the destruction of human persons in any number of circumstances. We are left drawing arbitrary lines in shifting sand. Consequently, peace will continue to evade us.
As the legislative session continues, may we all remember the dignity of our legislators, even when we disagree with them.