Human Worth

How do you put a price on someone’s life? To actually be able to see how much an individual is worth? Is it by the amount of money they make (their net worth), the amount of positive change they have brought to the world (humanitarianism), how many lives they have saved (a hero), how much they mean to those closest to them (a loved one), or simply the price someone will pay to have them as their property (a slave)?

I remember times throughout middle and high school when we would read a book with the topic of death and the teacher would ask us to do an exercise and rank which person we would keep or kill from the story or boat or island; and then justify it to the class. What an odd thing for a 13 year old girl to do. But yet, here at 24, I still find myself and those around me, weighing the cost of a life every day.

Did you know it costs $245,340 to raise a child from 0-18 in America (Thomas, 2014)? And if, by chance, your child enters the prison system, you (as a taxpayer) will continue to pay $167,731 per year to house and care for your child (Associated Press, 2013).

Did you know that children who are being sold by human trafficers can be purchased anywhere from $2 to $25,000 per child, depending if you want a little girl from Mozambique or a kid from the UK (Havocscope, n.d.)? Imagine, buying a child…a little human life…for only $2. When compared to a British child, that little girl’s life isn’t worth much.

Furthermore, it costs on average around $3,500 to have a hospital birth in America (Fetters, n.d.). However, the drugs for lethal injection only cost around $100 (Erb, 2014).

Then there are those groups in society that don’t value based on money, but on merit. Doctors and lawyers and engineers are more valuable and important than garbage-truck guys. And I won’t deny, those people are vital and necessary….but so is the garbage guy. Just think…if the 8.1 million people who call NYC home did not have their trash picked up for even a few weeks, what a mess there would be!!! You see, each person on this Earth has a purpose and role to play. The Bible tells us in Psalm 139 that God knew you in your mother’s womb and formed every aspect of you before you even breathed a breath. You are fearfully and wonderfully made! Yet, there are those people around you who live their life putting a price on your head.

In my studies for therapy I have spent a lot of hours both reading about and interacting with those with mental health. I worked for 3 years in an acute-care hospital, surrounded mainly by elderly and dying patients. I’ve watched friends and family enlist in the military to fight for our country and freedom…knowing it is quite possible they won’t make it out alive. I’ve encountered educators who have changed my life, and strangers who have changed my way of thinking. Each and every single one of these people are important.

I was born in the most wonderful country on Earth, to two loving parents, in a neighborhood surrounded by good people. I am white, female, educated, and Christian. I could not be more privileged.

That being said, I can never know how it feels to be another person. Of a different race or circumstance. I don’t know what it’s like to be you, and you don’t know what it’s like to be me. Regardless of our spot on the ladder, there are struggles and difficulties. But I can tell you one thing…all lives matter.

Black lives, white lives, Asian and Hispanic lives, police lives, criminal lives, mentally-ill lives, elderly lives, abused lives, abuser lives, homeless lives, wealthy lives, child lives….they matter.

And you know why these lives matter? Because they exist.

The violence and divide that has plagued our America for too long is getting worse, not better. Those who break a law are being killed over a small misdemeanor charge. Police are scared to do their jobs, for fear of backlash from the public and private sector. What does that say about us, as a nation? What does that say about you, as a person?

Pastor Rudy Rasmus says, “You can never remain unchanged by your circumstances. Everything you encounter affects you, either for the good or the bad.” You play a role in this world. You may not live in Ferguson or Baltimore or Atlanta or any other place of violence…but you are making a difference there.

You see, Pastor Rasmus says something else…he says, “those who see themselves as fellow travelers on the road of seeking God have the greatest impact on people.” This could mean you. People around America are thirsting for a leader…a positive role model who is open and honest and has a heart for the people. Our country is full of those who are manipulative and conniving with a hidden agenda.

Be different to make a difference. Just take the time to do so, and I promise you will see results. That’s what Jesus did, and that’s what we are called to do. When Jesus called out to Peter and Peter jumped right out and attempted to walk on water….he wasn’t very successful. However, Jesus saved him simply by extending a hand. It has been said, “Jesus created the entire universe with a word. Certainly, He could have simply spoken and rescued sinking Peter. In His dealings with people, however, He often chose to touch them.” Have you ever truly thought about that? Jesus touched him, and that simple act saved Peter’s life. Maybe your touch could do the same.

Violence and protest and discourse has become common-place in our world. However, we can’t allow the frequency to determine our reaction. There is a song by Jack Johnson with lyrics that say, “Why don’t the newscasters cry when they read about people who die? You’d think they could be decent enough to put just a tear in their eye.” Yet we have all become numb to the needs around us. We don’t allow the needs we see on television, or even the needs we hear about around our family dinner table, to touch our hearts.

Today, and every day, we need to practice valuing our neighbor….regardless of who that may be. When Jesus commands us to love our neighbor, he doesn’t let you pick and choose. All neighbors, close to home and across town. And if we will just extend that love to others that Jesus shows to us, we can’t help but scream ALL LIVES MATTER!

References

Associated Press. (2013). NYC’s yearly cost per inmate almost as expensive as Ivy League tuition. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/09/30/nyc-cost-per-inmate-almost-equals-ivy-league-education-expenses-tied-to-rikers/

Erb, K. (2014). Considering the death penalty: Your tax dollars at work. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2014/05/01/considering-the-death-penalty-your-tax-dollars-at-work/

Fetters, A. (n.d.). What to expect: Hospital birth costs. Retrieved from http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/considering-baby/financing-family/birth-hospital-costs/

Havocscope. (n.d.). Human trafficking victim prices. Retrieved from http://www.havocscope.com/black-market-prices/human-trafficking-prices/

Thomas, E. (2014). This is how much it costs to raise a child in the U.S. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/18/cost-of-raising-a-child_n_5688179.html

All Lives Matter

My heart hurts for Missouri. My heart aches for those who believe their violent protests last night were justifiable. My heart hurts for America. It seems like no matter what we do these days, we are taking steps in the wrong direction.

As a Caucasian female, I can not look at any African American and say “I know how you feel”. I don’t, I won’t, and I never will. However, I can tell you that I took a semester-long African American Literature course at East Carolina University taught by Dr. Reginald Watson. This class was one of my absolute favorites my entire time there. Dr. Watson is a black man. But unlike so many civil rights advocates, he didn’t condone separation and distinction among “his people”. He said, “African American history is American history.” Being one of three white students in the entire class of 50, I was highly outnumbered. However, the discussions that we had during that time, most of which had the potential to be tense and touchy subjects, were amazing.

After the verdict was given last night, the protesting turned into a riot. When that happened, all the moments leading up to it, the peaceful protesting, the “cause” that so many marched and stood up for….it was all lost. Those protestors who were dissatisfied with the verdict sought vengeance for the seeming injustice to Mr. Brown’s life. But who did they really hurt? They didn’t hurt the prosecutor or members of the grand jury. No, they burned businesses, vehicles, and hurt those in the streets. The demographic make-up of Ferguson is 65% Black, 30% White. So who did they hurt? Themselves. Each other. Their cause.

Now, instead of having their voices heard and respected, people just focus on all the negatives acts they did. They proved the nay-sayers right. They became the statistic.

Many took to social media giving their support and using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. This may outrage me more than anything I have seen so far. As a human services worker and Christian, I am over hear screaming ALL LIVES MATTER!!! All lives. Not just white or black. Not just male or female. Every life has the same opportunity for purpose in this life. No life matters any more than another.

I saw an old friend on Facebook say last night that she would be scared to have sons because she would be sending them into a society where the odds are against them because of their skin color. This person happens to be black. To that, I think, I could say the SAME thing about my sons. The odds are just regarding different things. Her son may be more likely to be shot, but my son will be more likely to be used as a scape-goat.

No crime is a victim-less crime. However, in some cases both sides will be victims.

We HAVE to stop this race issue. We have to. If we are ever going to be equal, we have to stop setting ourselves apart from others. The foundation of the civil rights movement was equality for those who were marginalized, which at the time was African Americans and women. It has since=e evolved into equality for all people, regardless of race, sex, able-bodiness, or sexual orientation. However, organizations such as the NAACP have a different agenda. The advancement of colored people. Yet again just choosing one group to be lifted up above the rest. To tip the scales in “their” direction. This is not going to produce equality.

The first step to equality is to stop identifying ourselves by our skin color.

However, before this even happens we have to ask the question….do you really want equality? True equality?

Personally, I think not. I can promise you that I don’t want to be equal in all ways. As a woman, I am allowed certain privileges that men are not. I also receive certain negative effects. This is the way it works when we are not equal. For example, as a woman, I don’t have to sign up for the draft. This guarantees me that I will never be forced by our country to go into combat against my will and risk my life for those in America if I don’t want to. To me, that is a blessing. On the other hand, I will earn an average of $0.78 for every $1.00 that a man makes doing the same job. And to me, my freedom of choice is worth 22 cent.

Historically there has been such thing as a white privilege. I can not dispute that this is true. It absolutely is. However, because of my ancestor’s race (something which I have no choice or control over) I do not qualify for any type of minority scholarship. I am not considered an asset to the quota that many major companies have to meet when hiring employees. My children may not receive certain services because they will not have the increased risk factor score, solely because they are white. I get punished for being white. And that’s fine with me, because that’s how God made me and I am doing my best at living the life I was given. I will pay full tuition costs to go to undergraduate and now graduate school. I may fail to get the job of my dreams because I don’t fit their criteria. And you won’t hear me complaining.

So ask yourself, do you really want equality?

If so, racial information should not be gathered or considered on any application in America. Not for college, subsidy programs, job applications….nothing. Because in equality, race doesn’t matter. Merit matters. May the person with the best qualifications for the position get the job. May the student who has worked hardest get the first spot in their choice college. THAT would be equality.

Yes, equality in our country would be grand. However, it would cause a major shift in our system. Everyone would have to work hard to get what they want. Everyone would have to work. Because if they didn’t, their group would be underrepresented in functioning society. By default, they would be getting the short end of the stick.

Let’s stop with the excuses. Let’s end the blame game.

Today and tomorrow let’s remember that all lives matter.

The Way I See It

Living in rural North Carolina, I appreciate the immigrants and migrant workers. I truly do. They come to do a job everyone else around here is too lazy to do, and they do it willingly. However, I don’t think they will benefit much from this immigration reform and neither will our country. Because they come here illegally and pay no taxes, farmers can pay them lower wages. On top of low wages, they are paid by the bucket. This is a win-win for the farmer. It lowers his over-head expenses for his operation costs and also guarantees maximum efficiency because they are not paid hourly. Those who do the work do not complain. Their culture is still one of hard-working individuals, quite opposite from ours now days. Their entire concept of work in this country is different from our own. They work here for a gain in their home country. They sacrifice comfort and wealth here for material goods and richness back home. That makes sense, but it doesn’t help America. Many of these families are split up, living thousands of miles apart for years at a time, sending money home every week, until the breadwinner is able to build up enough of a financial cushion to return home and reap the benefit of the hard-work he has sown.

Those who are fortunate enough to come into this country as a family generally want to stay. That’s fine, but we need to work on helping them develop acculturation skills before we begin giving them rights and privileges they don’t understand. We have to work on developing cultural sensitivity on our end and helping them enmesh with the culture on their end. We need to find a way to determine who intends to stay and who wants to go back. That way we can help them reach their goals and be functioning members of society. Immigration reform will hurt those who don’t intend to stay. The main reason they come is because it is work that is tax-free and leads to the ultimate profit of their family back home. If they start paying taxes, they may quit coming. Then who will do their job? Those who are jobless in America and “looking for work”? That would be nice, but that would NEVER get passed as law.

Now, I know this immigration reform the President speaks of is way more far-reaching than eastern NC. I know there are some who come here seeking asylum for all kinds of justified reasons, and do I think we should help those people…yes. Even though the same would not be granted if it were me fleeing to them. That’s okay. I understand. We’re America. We help everyone.

What I don’t agree with, support, or appreciate is our President showing total disregard for our laws, our Constitution, and our rights. He is just one person with one opinion. What gives him the right to over-reach protocols and standards set into place way before his time…with what justification does he does this? Because he thinks it’s a good idea? Because he made, yet another, promise he can’t keep? That’s not the way our country works. That’s not the views it was founded on.

Just because we are America, we don’t have to cater to every individuals needs. Our founding fathers didn’t always get their way. In every case there will be some people who “win” more than others. There is no way to make 100% of people happy. We should do what is best for the MAJORITY of the people. The majority doesn’t look the same as it used to. The minority has now become the majority in many cities, mine included. That’s okay. However, it is not okay for a certain population to benefit from procreation, with the intent to become the majority. I don’t think we should put limits on how many children a person can have. That is a personal choice. But why should one benefit from having more children? Whether Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, or Asian…..this kind of thing just perpetuates the cycle of government dependence, complacency, and increased advantage for decreased earning.

This is all just food for thought. The opinion of one person. But unlike the President, this one opinion doesn’t really matter or count for anything. If only.