What’s at the core of gun violence? Our nation doesn’t value all human life
When another school shooting claims the lives of innocent victims, the conversation gets loud.
We find ourselves engaging strangers on social media imparting our views about the right to bear arms and what that means.
We become emboldened when the innocent die.
The conversation zigzags to mental health and violent video games, and we propose solutions like banning assault rifles and teachers carrying guns. We valiantly forge forward with the hope of no more tiny graves.
We should have these conversations. Our consciences demand these conversations. We have a moral obligation to speak for those who cannot defend themselves, the most vulnerable.
However, we are applying bandages to peripheral problems while our moral foundation is bleeding out. We do a lot of lip service, but at the core, we are a nation that doesn’t value human life.
Our country actually applauds our individual power to take life — whether it is abortion or “dying with dignity.” We are offering every American a loaded gun and calling it personal choice. We have armed ourselves for the most dangerous game.
We dilute the value of all life when we do not uphold the sanctity of human life, and every area of our country suffers. We wonder why people are sexually assaulted, children abused, hate crimes committed, kids bullied, humans trafficked, and a host of other unfathomable atrocities.
We are appalled by President Donald Trump’s alleged mocking of a disabled reporter, but we rally for a woman’s right to kill the disabled baby in utero. We disavow hate crimes because the perpetrator is racist, but we defend a woman’s right to abort just because a baby is inconvenient. We have gone mad.
We have no problem speaking out for those children we “want,” those who don’t inconvenience us, those innocent ones gunned down by a stranger. Those children, other people’s children, become our children, and we rightly cry out for justice for them.
I would argue they were our children before they ever picked up a No. 2 pencil or got on a school bus. They were ours when they were in the womb, when their tiny body was in someone else’s body, when they were in poverty, immigrating, or sick. Our obligation to them has not changed. This is why in many states, a crime against an unborn baby (e.g. death in a car accident) can elicit criminal charges. We cannot stand for children only when they are “wanted.”
The worth of a person is not defined by our plans and desires. The worth of another human being is inherent, God-given, and does not change to fit our plan. It does not decrease with a disability or with poverty or increase just because we want it to.
When a shooter walks into a school or a night club and opens fire on people who make him uncomfortable or because he simply doesn’t want them to live, we are appalled and wonder how this could ever happen.
The message of abortion is this: When my life becomes inconvenient or not according to my script, I have the right to end the life of another person, my own child. Even someone else’s child. How is this different from the shooter’s train of thought? How can we act surprised just because the weapon of choice is a gun instead of forceps?
The truth is we undermine the value of all life and treatment of all the vulnerable when we champion abortion. Unwanted, unplanned, and disabled are the primary reasons deemed acceptable to end innocent human life in the greatest nation on the face of the earth. This is how our logic plays out, like it or not.
We have given birth to a culture that celebrates killing as a solution to crises.
Every year, 9,000 women in Alabama find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy, and many of them lack the emotional, medical, or financial support to carry their babies to term.
Organizations like Sav-a-Life tirelessly work where I live in Tuscaloosa and around the state to serve and help those facing unplanned pregnancies and beyond. I have a hard time accepting that more abortions are performed in Tuscaloosa than anywhere else in Alabama. We live in an overwhelmingly pro-life state, but the bank statements of the underfunded pregnancy centers working on the front lines would tell a different story.
Abortion is a complex issue, and I am barely scratching the surface on the poverty, abuse, rape, and hopelessness pervading our culture that make abortion a plausible option for many. I would suggest that hard circumstances, even wrongdoing, does not justify another wrong.
The solution to poverty is not murder. The solution to rape and abuse is not murder. We cannot accept the tragedy of the self-inflicted genocide we call abortion any easier than we can accept a school shooting. They are all our children. We are duty bound to stand for and protect them all. We are unafraid to dialog, rally, and protest for the innocent school victims. What will we do for the very least of these?
(Mary Grace Lyon is a wife and mother of three in Tuscaloosa)