Here's a hypothetical scenario. There are twenty people lined up along a brick wall. A commander with a pistol stands next to you and asks you to pick out 10 people from the line up to be shot. The ages of these people vary from infancy to old age. Their races, gender, and religion vary. Some of these people were construction workers, teachers, convicts, military leaders, etc. You know a few of these people. Some because they are family; some were your neighbors. The rest you don't know. How do you decide which of the ten should the commander shoot?
I ask this question because Hubby and I got into a rather heated debate about the subject. Because ultimately it boils down to this, how do you quantify human life? Are those who are young worth more than those who are old? Is one race more worthy of life than another? Can a person's gender or religion make a difference in your decision? Does their occupation factor into the value of their life? What would you do for a person who is your family (say your own child) versus some stranger child? Do these things make a difference and should they?
I ask these questions because it's the difference between the Canadian justice system and the American justice system. In Canada, the years of imprisonment for murder is quantified by the years of life. In other words, an infant who is murdered shortly after birth carries a lighter sentence than someone who is murdered at the age of 30. In the United States, the age of the person doesn't matter. However, the value of the person's life is based loosely on their worth to someone else. In other words, people who murder the terminally ill receive lighter sentences than those who murder their healthy co-worker. It's a matter of quantifying human life.
Can we as pro-lifers quantify human life? Can we judge? Are we allowed to quantify human life and dignity or is all human life worthy of dignity? Yes, things like Euthanasia, infanticide, murder, and abortion all aren't debatable. But what about capital punishment and war? Are we allowed a litmus test for the deaths of those people?
You all know my thoughts on this subject. So I pose the idea to get you thinking about yours. The reason is because I'm afraid that not having some sort of moral objectivity can lead a person down a slippery slope. It's self-evident. Look at the number of abortions. If you ask a person who rides on the fence to seriously contemplate what their lack of action does, they will realize that they have made a choice to quantify human value. The same can be said of the Holocaust. There were thousands of people who knew what was happening, but chose to do nothing, look the other way, out of fear and apathy. "They are Jews. I'm a Catholic. What do I care? If I try, they will kill me and my family. I don't know any of these people." It's a bunch of excuses that ends with the deaths of millions.
Edmunde Burke said: "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
So regardless of what the American or Canadian justice system does to quantify the value of human life. What would you do? How would you choose the ten?