The Central Thread

I finally finished the book Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom before It’s Too Late by James Robison and Jay W. Richards. (I was only reading it sporadically and had to return it to the library at least once.) I really enjoyed and highly recommend it. The authors do a great job of laying out and linking foundational concepts and explaining how they apply to the big political & cultural issues: abortion, runaway government spending, marriage, poverty & prosperity, God & politics, energy and the environment, education, free trade, etc. (OK, I stole that list from the front flap.)

art from 'Indivisible' book cover The following is from the Conclusion, wherein Robison & Richards isolate several principles that they believe we must, as a nation, ingrain into our hearts & minds and those of our children, pray over, and apply wisely. “[T]hen with God’s help, we’ll have most of what’s needed to restore faith, family, and freedom in the twenty-first century.” This is the first principle, the central thread:

“Every human being has equal value and dignity.

If you want your political and economic views to be based in reality, glue them to this principle. It’s right there in the Declaration of Independence, described as a self-evident truth, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Life is the first right. Without it, you can’t enjoy liberty or any other right.

Everyone knows vaguely that man is more than a mere animal, but most ancient cultures had a much lower view of human life than we do. America emerged from a culture that had been taught for centuries the biblical truth that each of us, male and female, is created in the image of God…. We still have a hard time applying this truth consistently, and the culture of death seeks to erase it from our cultural memory. Yet the truth still haunts the minds of Americans, even those who insist there is no God.”

Hey! Did you know that noted anti-theist Christopher Hitchens was staunchly pro-life? Yup!

“Unfortunately, secularism and progressivism have eroded this belief…. A culture once committed to life now risks being consumed by the culture of death.

Against this, we must proclaim, until we have no voice, that the twelve-week-old unborn baby sucking its thumb, the handicapped infant, the grouchy old widower hooked up to an oxygen tank, the losers that we don’t think contribute to society, are valuable simply by virtue of being human. They don’t earn their value, and the government does not bestow it upon them. A just and humane government recognizes, in its laws, the equal value of every human being. The first duty of government is to protect the right of innocent human beings not to be destroyed by others. Pull out that thread and eventually the whole tapestry will unravel.

The right to private property, to enjoy the fruits of our labor, is closely linked to our right to life. Our property is, in a sense, an extension of ourselves; it is intimately wrapped up in our God-given role as stewards, so a right to property also protects our right to life. This is why no coherent defense of the right to property will deny the right to life.

100+-year-old-man holding infant on his lapBecause we believe that every human being has value, we treat extreme poverty, disease, and death as enemies rather than just bad karma. We can’t create heaven on earth, but we should support policies that can lift people out of extreme poverty in the long run.

None of this is to say that we all have, or even should have, the same skills, motivation, or economic value. In announcing his Great Society initiative, President Lyndon Johnson asserted that ‘we seek not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.’ No. This is to seek what cannot be had — unless we merely want equality in misery. Bitter experience teaches us that trying to establish an ‘equality of outcome’ among diverse individuals not only is counterproductive, but also it violates justice and our dignity as individuals. If you doubt that, read up on the history of the Soviet Union. While insisting that we are created equal, we must also protect our diversity.

This is the first of our principles. Still, it won’t always guide us reliably without the principles that follow it.”

What are those principles, you ask? You’ll just have to read the book.

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