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Human Life

Postby ladyhawk » Thu Oct 6, 11:59 2011

I'm posting this here, because I don't know where else to put it. It's not a rant, just something I was thinking a lot about today and wanted to share.

I've started to noticed a trend that seems to be taking place in this country: a severe lack of reverence for existing human life. I say existing because I don't want anyone making the mistake of thinking that I am talking about abortion. I am not. I believe that a woman should have the right to choose, period. I'm not going to debate that with anybody.

The life I am speaking of is the life of people. That's important to distinguish, I think.

Anyway, it really hit me after having a couple of discussions at work this morning.

The first one involved football, since it is jersey day at work. I happen to be wearing one of my husband's Eagles jersies, so, naturally, Michael Vick came up in conversation. And, also quite naturally, how much everyone hates him came up in conversation. Because, after all, he's a remorseless, dog-killing SOB, right?

I'm sorry, but I disagree. Yeas, he killed dogs, on purpose, and he went to jail. But saying that is is remorseless is really unfair, in my opinion. He did everything the court expected of him. And then he turned his old mansion into a no-kill dog shelter, he regularly speaks to kids at schools around at least the state of PA about animal abuse, raises awareness and donates money. He's gone above and beyond what hte court ordered and seems to have matured quite a bit. Believe it or not, jail can change people!

Which is exactly why it is so strange to me that so many people hate him and that he is protested and spoken so poorly of by so many people so often.

Because then you have another football player like Dante Stallworth. He killed a person. It was an accident. He was drunk driving. But he is an educated adult and should have known why drunk driving is not okay. He did it anyway. So, accident or not, he is entirely responsible for the death of another human being. Like Vick, he was also very apologetic. He even paid for the funeral. He spent two years or so in jail and now he's playing football again. But he still killed someone.

No one said anything. I mean, not really. No protests, no words of hate. Nothing like what was/is done to Vick.

Am I the only person wondering why people act like what Michael Vick did is worse? Am I the only person bothered by this? I'm bothered not because my husband is a Philadelphia fan, but because it seems to me that people care more about animals than other people. Sure, both men did something entirely wrong, but why are animal lives rated above those of humans? The dogs didn't ask to be taken in and cared for, no, but no one asks to be killed in a drunk driving accident either.

Then we were discussing a poll that was recently sent to our inbox at work. It was a poll about the military and how Americans view certain things. Apparently, seven out of 10 people polled think that the sacrifices servicemembers make (i.e. spending years away from family, losing life, limb, eyesight, hearing and risking mental health) are "par for the course."

Take this as you will, but the way I see it, people in this country are becoming drastically unsympathetic of others. Considering the American economy, I can understand completely that is is difficult to feel bad for someone who has a job. I get that. What I don't understand is how people can treat injured/disabled/dead veterens and their family members with such a, "well, what did you expect?" impartial attitude.

All this led me to think of many a conversation I have had with other people in a deployed environment about the locals of the country we were in. Speaking mainly of insurgents and taliban and Al Qaida, there were some uneducated, unthinking people who lumped the entire country's inhabitants into these groups and said some rather ignorant things about how much longer their lives should last.

Why should I or anyone else assume that everyone in one country is evil? And why should I act as though our enemies are not people, not human beings, and do not have any friends or family who care about them? I mean, think about how the family of a service member who was killed in action is impacted. Wouldn't it be a bit dehumanizing to act as though the families and friends of our enemies are not impacted the same way when they are killed? Killing someone else is never something anyone should want to do. Protecting yourself, your family and your country -- those things are different than wanting to kill someone. I'm bothered by how seldom people make that distinction.

In my opinion, the lives of our fellow human beings should be treated with respect. With reverence. The apparent fact that this reverence seems to be disappearing in this country is nothing less than disturbing to me.
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Re: Human Life

Postby rowan » Thu Oct 6, 12:11 2011

I completely agree with most of that.

Though, without seeing the poll and its wording about service members I wouldn't say "par for the course" is necessarily unsympathetic toward our military people. I mean, if you ask me, I would say "yeah if you go into a combat zone, it's likely you will get injured and maybe even killed" which depending on how the question is asked I might mark it as "par for the course". Because thinking that won't or might not happen is kind of stupid, that's why it's combat, right? Those of us who have close people in those situations, I think just... hope it doesn't happen. But you have to know it's there.

What is exceptionally awful, imo, is how vets are treated. That shows more than some poll. And it's not a good showing, sadly.
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Re: Human Life

Postby monk » Thu Oct 6, 14:19 2011

Is unsympathetic the same as apathetic? If so, then I would mostly agree with you too except on the military aspect of it. The way my dad (USMC Master Gunny 20yrs)explained it to me is that in the military you are required to do things that most normal civilian people don't do. One of those things is to kill when ordered to without hesitation. This is a difficult thing to get a normal person to do and one of the strategies that the military accomplishes this is to dehumanize the enemy. Part of that is the derogatory nicknames they use (camel jockey, slant, chink, slopehead, kraut, yankee etc) and another is to highlight their human rights abuses while downplaying our own (war almost always causes abuses on both sides. It's war) and there are other things they use to dehumanize the enemy.

The new dynamic of insurgents in a mostly innocent population is brand new to our military for such a long term and instigating the proper strategy against hundreds of years of military tradition and training has many challenges and quite honestly some open opposition from those who think things don't need to change.


As for the Dante Stallworth vs. Michael Vick issue this is much more clear cut to me. Stallworth killed someone in a one time accident that at the time it happened he would have chosen to not have happened. Vick carried on a campaign of cruelty and death in an ongoing enterprise voluntarily and though he showed remorse upon getting caught and has apparently learned better, would he have done so if he hadn't been caught? To equate the two situations, Stallworth would have had to have set up a bar in his backyard getting people wasted and handing them car keys vs. Vick being accidentally arrested while attending a dog fight when it was busted one time. I don't think anyone is saying a dogs life is more valuable than a humans, I think they are saying that Stallworth made a stupid decision to drive intoxicated that had one terrible accidental outcome while Vick participated and profited from an ongoing situation that caused cruelty, pain, and death to many innocent animals and it was no accident. Making amends is fine and good, but the decisions of these two men say a lot to me about their character in general. I used to go to cock fights in my teens with my neighbor, I think it would make me ill to attend one today, I can't imagine a dog fight.
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Re: Human Life

Postby Sonic# » Thu Oct 6, 14:54 2011

Instances like these disappoint me as well. It's frustrating that people can't get past someone who did something wrong, even after they have paid the price for it and reformed their behavior for the better. Michael Vick fucked up more than most of us would, but he's trying to make amends, and I have to count that for something. I distrust hyperbolic scorn anyhow, but in a case like this their comments are too much.

True, it could be the case that people feel a greater need to look out for their own, and thus are less able to afford compassion for outsiders. However, it could also be the case that people in tough straits tend to band together and share their burdens. My intuition is that both are true, the first more often true to people more distant, and the second more often true within the closer bounds of a community. As for the perceived increasing ignorance of the military, I think one factor is that we haven't had a visible war since Vietnam. Without a draft, without some clear sacrifices being shared by the population at large, without an actual declaration of war, it's easy for must of us to be unaware of the engagement that has continued to go on for nearly ten years now in Afghanistan, for eight years in Iraq, not to mention continued deployments in places like South Korea. I think there needs to be more dialogue with veterans about their experiences, both to aid their reintegration into the community and to help remind us of what those in the military continue to do.

But beyond both of these hypothetical causes, insensitivity has been around for a long while. We see this in To Kill a Mockingbird with the attitude of the community towards presumed criminals, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. We see this in dramas about World War I and II, where one of the anxieties involves whether people back home will remember them (the chaplain in Catch-22 is an excellent example), or once they return, whether they can fit back in (Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor is an intriguing example of this, as a serviceman returns to find his entire family gone). I say this because, while I think there's a reason why we tend to notice it today, I don't think that it's just a trend. As the title of this topic could also suggest, valuing human life inconsistently is a part of human life for many people, and it's up to us to remember its value.
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Re: Human Life

Postby ladyhawk » Thu Oct 6, 16:25 2011

Rowan, I'd have to take another look at my work e-mail to get you the exact wording, and since I don't get back to work until Tuesday, it'll have to wait until then. :/ Sorry about that.

Monk, you've made some good points. Maybe my inability to dehumanize the enemy is one of the best reasons for me not to be a lifer. If someone were trying to kill me, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't just let them do it. But I would have some serious issues with it afterward. As far as the Vick and Stallworth thing goes, I guess I just don't see it the same way you do. They both did something wrong, willingly, that resulted in deaths. Even if Stallworth didn't set out with that result in mind, he had to at least know it would be a possibility. Ans he very well may still be drinking and driving in certain instances had his situation not resulted the way it did, just like Michael Vick might still be fighting dogs if he didn't get caught. Just the way I see it, differently than you do. Although, it wouldn't at all surprise me to find out that I am the minority in seeing it that way, and would certainly explain the level of disdain toward Michael Vick.

For the rest, I think Sonic said it all best. And you're right, Sonic. It has been going on forever. Maybe my age or lack of experience prevented me from noticing it before, but I am noticing it now, and it really gets to me.
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Re: Human Life

Postby Aum » Wed Oct 19, 21:47 2011

The almighty dollar has replaced value of human life, plus there are so many people in the world now that the preciousness of individuals is overshadowed.

This paradigm really needs to come crashing down so that people can get their priorities straight.

Try not to give into the despair and the hate though. The more people practice love and compassion, the more that things will change. Just because you see others devaluing life does not mean they are right.

I'm getting involved in a field of medicine that has real applicable value, but I will probably never be rich in my life time. That doesn't bother me. I'm already helping people to live better lives and to be right with themselves. That is worth more than money.

Things are going to change for the better, it's just going to take time. If the Wallstreet protests have shown us anything, it's that humans have a deeply ingrained sense of justice. The balance will be restored and humanity will get back on track before long.
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