In the military, the rules of engagement are important. These rules that a military force imposes on itself for the conduct of a campaign can vary from “kill every living thing and destroy every building” to “only shoot if you are in imminent danger of death.” What we choose to target is important. If we target the wrong things, we are not only ineffective, but we often strengthen the enemy’s resolve to fight.
Once we leave the military sphere, we tend not to talk in terms of target discrimination and rules of engagement. Perhaps we should bring this language into the wider lexicon. I am not in favor of militarizing society, but our society does seem to turn to lethal force very readily. Joseph Stalin is quoted as saying, “Death solves all problems — no man, no problem.” We seem to have internalized this outlook as a culture. Death as a solution continues to advance on, and threaten life.
Abortion has been a scourge upon the United States for most of my life. Millions of children have be slaughtered in order to solve a problem. The problem may be shame at being pregnant out of wedlock or the perceived financial or emotional burdens of caring for a child, but as the “solution” is applied more and more, it becomes a solution to more and more problems.
Raising a child with profound birth defects is a challenge. Having a child with a short life expectancy is also difficult. The pre-emptive strike of killing them in utero before they have a chance has become normalized. While we may be able to feel some sympathy in these cases, at some point the triviality and selfishness of such actions becomes apparent.
I have read recently of children being murdered because they were diagnosed with cleft palates or cleft lips, both of which are treatable conditions with no long-term consequences. Sex-selection abortions are also common. Anything less than a perfect child at the perfect time is in danger.
Thankfully, abortion numbers are declining after peaking in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Nevertheless, we have the blood of over 52 million children on our hands. As a statistic, that can be hard to visualize. Destroy New York City 6 times and you’re close to the number of deaths. That’s 40 times the number of deaths the United States has had in every war combined from the Revolution to the present day.
But children are not the only “problem” solved by murder. Increasingly, disease and age are being targeted. So-called physician assisted suicide and euthanasia are growing trends. Pain, suffering, and “being a burden” are now problems that are increasingly targeted by lethal weapons. As we increasingly accept death as an acceptable alternative to perfection, we place everyone in danger.
Some may argue that there is a difference on the other end of life, that adults can make the choice themselves. Perhaps some can, but many can’t. Alzheimer’s is but one obvious example. Even those with a “sound mind” may have others around them who make them feel as though they have no hope. Once we lose hope, death becomes a more palatable option. We must rediscover the sanctity of suffering. Until we do, we will continue to indiscriminately kill whatever challenges our comfort.