How much do lives matter?
ince the daytime murder of a black person by a renegade cop in Minneapolis, society has been arguing over the flag slogan of the African-American community, “Black Lives Matter.” This was answered by a bigoted response that ‘All Lives Matter.”
It seems in a civilized society that the lives of African-Americans, Native-Americans, Hispanic- Americans, Asian-Americans and European-Americans ought to matter. Even though the focus is now on 400 years of oppression of African-Americans, the problem is broader than that.
Life has lost some of its luster in the current pandemic. Thousands of Americans are dying needlessly because large segments of the population refuse to respect the lives of other people by taking the precautions recommended by the best scientists in the world.
Estimates of the expected number of more deaths ahead have not fazed some folks that think they have a constitutional right to kill other people by refusing to prevent those estimated deaths.
There is now a national mandate that all schools will open or the federal government will punish states and school districts by denying them their entitlement in the federal aid program.
Teachers Will Die
This one-size-fits-all approach is going to result in the deaths of teachers. The pandemic number crunchers can give us a close guess as to how many teachers will die. Without their expertise, let’s guess 3,000 nationally.
In the lower grades, teachers are the daytime moms for children, some of whom will be bringing the virus from home. Some teachers will have underlying health problems – heart conditions, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and scores of other deadly ailments.
Many parents of school-age children are willing to let 3,000 teachers die so they can go back to work or get the kids out of the house. Do teachers’ lives matter? How many lives must be involved to matter?
If we could post the photos of the teachers who will be dying, would that make us consider this blanket decision more carefully? As long as the teachers are anonymous, it is easy to send them off to join the health professionals in the virus pit.
Even though the experts predict that we will see another 50,000 virus deaths by Christmas, we are not concerned enough to wear masks, wash hands or distance socially because the 50,000 are still unknown. Lives are cheap because most Americans do not know each other and they have little compassion for other lives. Do these 50,000 lives matter?
So if thousands are dying in California, Arizona, Texas, Mississippi and Florida, does anyone in North Dakota care? Is the loss of these lives more than an interesting news item or a calculation of how long it may take for the virus to get here?
As a nation, we support and adopt policies that end up killing people. We know that more minorities than whites die because of poor health care. Yet we debate over these lives as though we were engaged in some academic exercise. Do these lives matter?
Public Against Change
Then there is abortion, an issue that has divided this country for 50 years without change. Even though Trump named two anti-abortion judges, there has been no change in the position of the Supreme Court on Roe vs. Wade. Public opinion is now against a change, according to Gallup polls.
In the final analysis, the ultimate decisions about abortion, with or without the Supreme Court, are going to be resolved by the consciences of individuals. Because these lives matter, churches need to start talking to their congregations about personal responsibility for life.
The bottom line is that all sorts of lives matter, black lives in particular because they are closest to the fire.