No society in which human life is not valued can long endure. It will devolve into a jungle. America has begun that devolution.
A white police officer is quick to shoot a black man and a black man is quick to shoot a white police officer. Hence, we conclude that we have a problem with race. And we do. But our troubles run deeper. Neither the white officer nor the black man respect human life. Many people do, both those who wear blue and those whom they are sworn to protect and serve. But increasingly, the average American has a low view of the value of human life.
We certainly value animal life. It is no longer acceptable to fish for whales, to club baby seals, to raise cows for veal, to test mascara on a rabbit, or to fight roosters one against another. Why? It is inhumane. A word which was originally used of measures that tended more fully to promote human dignity and to elevate the value of human life—humane—is now used almost exclusively to address human treatment of animals. This has happened because our society values animal life. Various organizations—PETA, Greenpeace, etc.—and environmental groups and policies, concern for ozone layers and carbon emissions, and efforts to leverage renewable energy all testify to a raised consciousness of the value of Creation and the need to steward its resources.
At the same time, our belief in the inherent value of human life has waned. We abort unborn children largely because it is personally or economically convenient; some even profit from selling dismembered babies for medical research. Try that with a bunny rabbit. We press for “death with dignity,” but cannot find a way to affirm the dignity of human living. Our political rhetoric no longer addresses ideas and policies. Rather, we drive straight for character assassination, which is simply a form of verbal murder. We delight in “gaming,” in which simulated mass killing—far outside the authority controls instilled by actual military training—desensitizes generations of young men to the horrors of slaughtering another human being. We decry the human race as a blight upon the Creation and a drain on its resources, no longer believing that humanity is the crowning achievement of that Creation, and that those resources are divinely-ordained gifts that men and women are to use with joy and care.
If man is not made in the image of God, then we really are beasts, and none of us has any reason to be so upset that men are increasingly acting like it. Why does it matter that a cop kills a suspect; why does it matter that a sniper kills some cops? After all, they’re just animals, and this is a dog-eat-dog world, isn’t it? This is just natural selection in process. We came from the jungle; we belong to the jungle; and even if we live in well-manicured suburbs, we are jungle animals at heart. It is only an accident of civilization that has suppressed our jungle instincts for so long.
Or maybe it was no accident. Maybe when boys and girls were taught from birth that human life is special, that human beings are created in the image of God, and that their heavenly Father values them so much that Christ died to rescue them, maybe that is why generations of Americans have acted like men and not animals. Maybe that is why they have so valued human life. Maybe they put two and two together and saw that God did not send His Son to take the form of a whale or a rabbit or the ozone layer or the rain forests or even a baby seal, but a man. Maybe God did that because above all other creatures, He values human life. Maybe He values us because He made us like Himself, and therefore we matter.
Or, we can continue to kill unborn babies, kill ourselves when we no longer feel like living, teach our sons to kill without remorse in the virtual world, equipping them to do the same in the real world, and teach them to protect the environment from man rather than protecting it for man. Let’s keep telling them that they are valueless, that they are nothing more than big-brained animals, and that the very social structures that make civilization possible are an artifice and an accident of history.
Let’s do that, and there will be no number of police sufficient to maintain civilization. We will have a jungle, for we will have come to believe that we deserve nothing better.