What’s changed in America: Value of life has measurably declined

“Welcome back to America!”, I keep thinking as we re-adjust to having been away for two years in Japan. I learned a lot living overseas, about myself, my country, and particularly about how important it is for a culture to value human life above all things.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest trends I notice upon my return is how human life has become increasingly cheap in the U.S. To illustrate this trend I’d like to talk about the following items: the war in Afghanistan, stem cells, gay marriage, Obama, and Alzheimer’s

Life has become cheaper in the U.S., even as we have supposedly become more sophisticated and caring. Take the war in Afghanistan. Back when President Bush was in charge, how often did we hear the press talk about the casualty rate and the death toll? Pretty often, nightly in fact.

Now how often do we hear about it? I’d argue much less. Why? Aren’t the soldiers dying now as valuable and important as before? The answer is no.

In this era of cheap human life, one of the only ways life has value is in the political sense. Soldiers who died in Iraq were valued more by the press because they served their political agenda. Now battlefield casualties harm their agenda and so mention of them is limited. So much for the left’s supposed concern for the lives of our military.

Human lives were also trumpeted as of paramount concern in the heated embryonic stem cell debates of the Bush administration. Those opposing embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) were characterized as callous to the suffering of those who suffer from diseases that could supposedly be cured. We were called “anti-science” and all sorts of other things for our myopic desire to protect human embryos.

But now that Obama lifted the federal ban (note, there was never a private ban on ESCR) and no new cures have been forthcoming, the attention has been lifted. If improving human life were so important, shouldn’t that subject still be front and center?

Nope. Human life served the purpose of advancing the culture of death and can now be dispensed with.

Gay marriage is another hot button topic. Since marriage is the incubator in which new human life is created and nurtured, it has been cherished and protected throughout human history in all cultures (save a very few exceptions).

But now marriage’s role in that regard is dismissed and it is now seen primarily as a vehicle for self-fulfillment, regardless of how new definitions may or may not harm children. Again, human life loses out to political expediency and self-centered considerations.

Obama himself has led the charge against life, lifting the ban on foreign aid if it was used for abortion and generally making it easier and more likely for government to fund abortion in a variety of ways. All the while, he claims the mantle of compassion for his efforts, when in fact compassion should be measured how you protect the least among us.

My last example is Alzheimer’s. This is not so much a liberal/conservative issue as it is one of our culture in general, where we ascribe value to human life only so far as an individual is able to contribute to society, or make us feel good about ourselves.

Alzheimer’s robs individuals of the ability to contribute and makes them instead human “loss centers” who consume resources, both physical and emotional, without paying anything back. We are therefore afraid of it and shy away from those who have the unfortunate condition.

I argue that if we had a proper appreciation of the value of life, we would not see any difference between an embryo, a baby, an adult, a person in a vegetative state, or a victim of Alzheimer’s. ALL individuals have inherent value regardless of their current ability to “contribute” or manifest their value to us in obvious ways.

As human life is cheapened, government continues to expand its power over the populace. Thank God there is some resistance in this country to that trend (even it is regularly derided and marginalized by the press and Democratic politicians; I thought dissent was supposed to be patriotic?).

But ever notice that there is an inverse proportion between the value of human life and the power of government? Totalitarian regimes were never known for their compassion and care and in fact viewed human lives as expendable to some greater cause.

Let us hope we are not on that path, though it sure seems like we are. As Chuck D. once said, Fight the Power!

Trey Hoffman

Peachtree City, Ga.

roundabout's picture
Joined: 01/01/2011

To answer the headline to your comment:

It surely has lost value.

We don't think much of dropping bombs randomly in Iraq and Afghanistan until we have killed probably 200,000 in the last ten years! 5,000 of our own. Crippled badly maybe 60,000.
I guess we need all of those babies to get to 14 billion people!

Neither does China where one kid is it!

Russia just keeps building bigger Gulags for dissenters.

Want to talk about India and Indonesia's quality of a life?

How about Africa?

You are preaching junk.

Main Stream
Main Stream's picture
Joined: 04/27/2006
"Pro"- lifers = culture of death

"Only in America can you be Pro-Death Penalty, Pro-War, Pro-Unmanned Drone Bombs, Pro-Nuclear Weapons, Pro-Guns, Pro-Torture, Pro-Land Mines, AND still call yourself ‘Pro-Life.’ - John Fugelsang

birdman's picture
Joined: 10/28/2005
Ok Mr. Hoffman, I get it you hate Democrats

Now let me start by saying that I don't completely disagree with SOME of Hoffman's rant. But the truth is he simply hates liberals and Democrats and sees every one of their programs and beliefs as "devaluation of human life." Let's start with the most ridiculous, Gay Marriage. Exactly HOW does two committed adults wanting equal access to society "devalue" human life? Marriage is the "he incubator in which new human life is created and nurtured?" Seriously? You mean allowing 2 gay men, who would never procreate with a woman, to gain the legal advantages of marriage, will prevent children from being born? ARE YOU KIDDING? Come on Trey, even a wacko like you can't possibly believe that! If this were so, only married would bear children, and there would be no abortion, would there.
As for Abortion. I agree. But what about the poor, the junkies, the teen girls, those that are raped, incest victims? It is one thing to outlaw abortion, it is quite another to totally abandon the child after it is born, as you and your fellow "compassionate conservatives" always do. Will YOU adopt a crack baby? Will YOU offer financial assistance to raise an abandoned child? Will YOU promote a welfare system to help the single mother in the inner city raise her child? Will YOU support a health system to provide well baby checks and health care to poor single mothers? Answer: a resounding NO! But you WILL mandate an unwanted child is born ONLY to abandon all help for the rest of his or her life.
War in Iraq: Are you talking about the fact that we waged an unnecessary war with little preparation or thought of consequences? Or are you talking about the Bush Administration ban on ANY photos or public viewing of the flag draped coffins returning to Dover? Or are you talking about McCains call for unlimited length of the war. But you are right. After 8 LONG years we are tired of it. Too bad. But wouldn't voting to end the war, you know, the call by Obama to withdraw, be seen as actually valuing the lives of our troops? How was McCain's "never withdraw" idea so valuing human life? Truth is we went to Afghanistan to get Al Qeda. Al Qeda is out of Afghanistan. Why are we still there? We went to Iraq to get WMD's and depose Saddam. We did that years ago, why are we still there?
Stem cells: Frozen embrios are thrown away after a certain length of time. Using their stem cells contributes to many medical causes. Do you not value the same life after it is born? Should we have stem cell research? That is a whole new debate. But since we do have embrios being thrown away, why not use them?
But one must wonder Mr. Hofmann, why do you scream for gun control? Why don't you stand up for environmental regulations to get toxins out of our water and air? These are certainly deadly.
I know, the second amendment. Well, the second amendment says : "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." One could make the argument that it specifically refers to state militias who now provide arms to there members. But the Supreme Court has upheld the right to bear arms. You know, that organization that also upheld Roe v. Wade.
Can't have it both ways Trey. You either support the Supreme Court or don't. Doesn't mean you don't fight to change decisions such as Roe v. Wade or Gun Control.
But bottom line Trey, liberals and Democrats don't "devalue" life, they believe strongly in the sanctity of life. Yeah Yeah I know, Abortion. Well not all liberals believe in abortion. But most believe in the right to make the decision, it's called "freedom of choice," and was upheld as legal by the Supreme Court. Don't interpret that to mean "support abortion." Oh, by the way, how come Roe v. Wade wasn't tested by Reagan, Bush, Bush (well he fought partial birth abortion, as he should)? Because for all their rhetoric, many conservatives still don't want little 14 year old "Susie" to have a kid out of wedlock.
But if you look at conservative thought of the day, you can certainly make the same argument.
Health care reform prevents insurance companies from denying health care to those with illness. Prevents them from canceling policies if the care gets too expensive. Provides for care for some 45 million uninsured people. Yet the Conservatives hate this and want it repealed because it's "too expensive." Isn't this "placing a value" on human life?
Elimination of EPA regulations lead to illness and sometimes death for our citizenry. The Conservatives hate environmental laws because they are "too expensive." Isn't this "placing a value" on human life?
Unending war in the Mid-East. How does this "value" the lives of our troops?
Elimination of social programs to help the poor. "Too expensive." "Placing a value" on human life.
Cutting unemployment insurance. "Too expensive." "Placing a value" on human life.
And the list goes on and on.
Bottom line Trey, you may think Liberals "devalue" human life, but Conservative place a monetary value on human life. What is life worth in America? Apparently not enough to justify any type of government assistance. As long as it costs ME nothing it's ok. But if I have to pay even 1 cent to help someone survive, well I'm against it. Yeah....."Compassionate Conservatism" at it's best.

Chris P. Bacon
Chris P. Bacon's picture
Joined: 02/28/2010
Birdman, about Taliban Trey Hoffman

Birdman, you might remember Taliban Trey Hoffman from a few years back, he posted here as "AMDG".

Taliban Trey is now back after two years in "Japan" (the most unique synonym for "federal prison" I've ever heard) and it looks like he's aiming to recapture his crown as Fayette's Biggest Bigot.

You might recall Taliban Trey's previous screechings regarding gay marriage. Long story short, he opposes gay marriage on 2 grounds:

1) the primary purpose of marriage is procreation, and failure to procreate results in a critical shortage of children which in turn means his precious social security payments may not be funded as a result (I kid you not, he actually said this)

2) Gays are gross and he is horrified that he might have to explain to his precious little daughters about the Abomination That Is Homosexuality.

AMDG's picture
Joined: 09/20/2006
Wow, are you guys having fun?

Wow, are you guys having fun? It's too bad that we can't disagree about issues and keep the discussion civil and mature. "Taliban Trey," "rant", including my daughters in your attack? Guys, come on.

Where to start. How about the wars. Democrats voted overwhelmingly in support of the Iraq war, so don't just lay it on Bush or conservatives. Obama himself extolled the Afghan war as the good and necessary one. So, if you're going to attack me on that point, at least have the intellectual honesty to admit that the Democrats supported both efforts, at least initially.

The loss of innocent life in war is horrible indeed. I would bet large sums that the soldiers in theater had no intention of killing innocents. It certainly wasn't our intention, as it is with terrorism. Civilians die in war. Does that make war always and everywhere bad? How about WWII? You are primarily harping on this issue to justify your opposition to the wars. Again, using life for political purposes as opposed to having real compassion, or at least it seems so.

Abortion: if you don't agree life begins at conception, then you won't agree with me on this issue. My belief is based in science and supported by faith. If an embryo is not a new human life, then what is it? It's genetically distinct from the parent and grows on its own volition. Same with embryos. The argument that we should just use them anyway since they're going to be thrown out dodges the issue. I am also against in vitro fro the same reason. It results in the destruction of human life for essentially selfish reasons. Most abortions are done for the same reason.

The canard about needing to adopt the unwanted children is ridiculous. THey would be adopted. They are everyday. That would not be an issue.

Gay marriage: marriage has gradually been divorced from its true purpose for decades. Gay marriage culminates the process and firmly separates marriage from procreation. I have no particular animus towards homosexuals or gay marriage advocates. I just feel it is unfortunate for what it says about how we view marriage and, by extension, life.

That's probably all for now. I doubt we can discuss these things civilly and without recourse to name-calling. That is on you guys. Grow up.

roundabout's picture
Joined: 01/01/2011
birdman, hoffman

I have in much less suavity tried to make your above arguments, usually one at a time, on here, but even if some thought that some of those reasonings were correct, they would not admit it due to polarization of politics.

You are basically correct on most of your essay.

It has come down to this; in order to elect the dude that I think will do some of the things "I" want or need, I will vote and speak for him or her--even if there is only one thing that I want, the rest be damned.

We need to find a candidate who doesn't "say" the things we want to hear to get elected, but by his past has proved that he has good judgment, or simply asks for your vote to do what he thinks is best for most. Even if he votes against some republicans some of the time, and some of the democrats some of the time! We crucify those people now!

birdman's picture
Joined: 10/28/2005
Bacon and Roundabout

True. I usually avoid comment on Hoffman but his rant connecting everything non-conservative to the devaluing of human life is just too much of an absurd leap to sit quietly. I agree, roundabout, but we have professional politicians. The statesman died years ago. As the new millennium grows our political gap widens. It is idiotic beliefs like Trey's that lead to the total disregard of anything that isn't "what I believe." In the age of the internet, where facts are at your fingertip, it amazes me how unwilling our citizenry is to actually learn for themselves. Easier to simply believe your favorite pundit. Case in point was the ridiculous "death panel" fear struck into the hearts of the conservatives by brilliant people like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. Even though the whole issue was merely having Medicare pay for end of life counseling, if requested, an idea proposed by a Ga. Republican Congressman two or so years before Health Care reform. It became the mantra of opposition.
Truth is we all vote for who we think will do what we believe is best. Problem is that too many are told what to believe. We don't make up our own minds. Here is another example. Ask any conservative as to how many want Health Care repealed and they will tell you that the Republicans were "mandated" to repeal it. Yet the Wall Street Journal report yesterday states:
"There is also division on what to do with the law now that it’s, you know, the law. A combined 47% want to either expand it or leave it as is, while 43% say it should be repealed or repealed and then replaced by something else. But the notion of defunding provisions of the law — a strategy being considered by Republicans — is not a particularly popular one. Some 62% disapprove of that route, while 33% approve and 6% don’t know or refused to answer."
So, a very short time researching shows that despite what Beck or Palin tell us to believe, the facts are different.
Bottom line is we will not elect someone who will actually DO what is right. The Debt Reduction Commission had great ideas. They were tough, but will work. Among them was some tax increases, cuts in spending, cuts in benefits, etc. Not one single politician has the guts to do this. So we continue on the road to bankruptcy.
The Repubs. claim they will cut the deficit, we'll see. Bet they don't. They'll simply convince conservatives that if we cut taxes all will be right. But those leachy, no good, dirty rotten "poor" people will simply, with the help of the Democrats of course, bleed us dry. Not to put a "value" on life, but ol' Trey would certainly support just "lettin' em die" from their own laziness.

PTC Avenger
PTC Avenger's picture
Joined: 01/08/2008
Another gem from wannabe

Another gem from wannabe columnist Mr. Hoffman. "I argue that if we had a proper appreciation of the value of life, we would not see any difference between an embryo, a baby, an adult, a person in a vegetative state, or a victim of Alzheimer’s." Dude, you're nuts.

The distinctive human problem from time immemorial has been the need to spiritualize human life, to lift it onto a special plane beyond the cycles of life and death which characterize all other organisms. And who uses the word "populace" anymore, honestly?