The Value of Life.

38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'" 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

It's pretty rare for me to venture into the world of politics on this blog. In fact, I even found myself in a bit of trouble a few weeks ago raising a question about the role of church leaders in politics on twitter. But hear me out...

Apparently today Vice President Cheney went on Fox and had a bit of a tiff about President Obama's (or rather, the administration's) decision to investigate those people involved in the interrogation of suspected terrorist suspects. For a point of reference, the articles I was reading can be found here, here, and here.

I'm not even really interested in the politics behind this argument. Even as I find myself sliding slightly to the left on some political issues, I would agree that an investigation of this sort surely has some sort of political motivation. More than anything I would imagine this has something to do with a sense of timing. Democrats haven't been doing such a hot job of explaining why their health care overhauls are important, and so it might behoove them to put the Republicans on defense. I get that.

What I didn't get a sense of in any of these articles (and perhaps I should try to find the video online of the original interview) was any kind of remorse for the horrible situation that such interrogations were in the first place.

"It's clearly a political move. There's no other rationale for why they're doing this."

I think that there could be a few reasons for investigating the devaluing of a human life. This is essentially what such interrogation techniques do, they strip a person of their humanity. When we put someone in a situation where we are in control of their feelings of drowning, we show them that we are more powerful than they, and they become less human. When we dress everyone in the exact same orange jump suit with black hoods over their heads, we rob them a little more of their humanity. And really, no matter what side of the political spectrum you find yourself, you probably agree with this. What separates us as a nation is that about half of us think robing people of their humanity is a terrible crime, while the other (rightfully so I might add) thinks that such techniques force people to give us information. But again, one could hardly argue that our actions did not rob people of their humanity at least a little.

And now we arrive at the real problem.

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, b]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[b]and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

The scriptures (particularly this one in Genesis 1) indicate that our humanity actually holds a pretty tight connection with God. Our humanity is the imprint of the Divine, His all powerful signature in our lives. When we strip someone of their humanity, we both refuse to recognize God's presence in that person's life, and as well we act in direct rebellion to God and his creation. Whether we like it or not, God created all of us, even the people we call our enemies.

Which becomes an obvious defense of those who agree with such methods of questioning. I would venture a guess that a majority of those who find themselves in our camps and prisons aren't saints. They want to hurt us and our way of life, and in that sense are our enemies. I get that too. But I would again refer you to the scripture above. Jesus is VERY specific about how we should handle and relate to our enemies.

I'm also drawn to the story of King David. David absolutely had his enemies, but at every turn he treats them with as much respect as he can muster. For instance when David rose to the throne, he had all the authority and cultural support in the world to track down and persecute everyone who was out to kill him before. This of course would include everyone who was in King Saul's family. Which is what makes this scripture so phenomenal:

6 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.
David said, "Mephibosheth!"
"Your servant," he replied.

7 "Don't be afraid," David said to him, "for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table."

8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, "What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?"

David is unwilling to take things too far. He's unwilling to push someone to their limits just to exert his power over them. Above all, it seems as though David understood that people's humanity was to be cherished.

One of the reasons I try my best to steer clear of the political world is because it often has very few practical implications for our day to day lives. We could have debates back and forth on this blog in the comments section about what we believe, how we view the situation, what we think should be done. And then we will wake up tomorrow morning and everything will be exactly the same. Our influence doesn't reach very far I'm afraid (at least not on this blog).

So I would ask us how we rob each other of our humanity? I was incredibly guilty of this today when I was out driving. The people operating the vehicles around me were no longer people, they were morons driving stupidly (by the by, if you were someone being tailed by a green jeep compass today, I am so sorry). How are we robbing people of their humanity in our day to day life, and how can we remedy that situation?

That said, I'm certain there are people out there who would love to comment on this post and debate the politics with me. That's fine, and I'm all for having a little bit of fun. Just two rules: that we treat each other with respect, and that our opinions be backed up with scriptures (obviously the more you use, the more validity your argument has!)

And may God bless us all, even the people with whom we disagree.




David said...

I kind of just glazed over it cause i have to go to bed at 10:30, but i think i agree.... i'll read it again, and give u a full lil rant, but i just wanted to give u a comment to read ;).


Anonymous said...

well, to be fair, most drivers who aren't me ARE stupid morons. i especially hate the ones who do 20 on the posted 45 roads around here - you know, here in the country. i have an arsenal of words reserved just for them.