Monday, December 10, 2007

A Valuable Life

Did you hear about New Jersey? New Jersey is abolishing the death penalty. While Democratic legislators are working to abolish capital punishment across the board, it was reported that Republican legislators are pushing to uphold capital punishment for certain individuals, such as murderers of children.

This got me thinking. Why is it that the lives of certain individuals (namely children) are deemed more valuable than the lives of others? If somebody murders me, should that person get a lesser sentence then if they murder a child? Why? Is it because, as an adult, I am less "innocent"? Is it because I can defend myself better than a child can (although I would argue that in the face of an AK-47 a child and me would be equally defenseless)? Is it because this is a culture of youth? After all, let's face it - our culture really has no stomach for age. We all know that marketers only care about those aged 18-25 unless they are marketing wrinkle cream or erection medication. Women over age 40 are practically invisible in popular culture. Does this child-centricity extend to the value of life itself?

About ten years ago or so, there was a craze that took over the entire culture. I am sure we all remember the "Baby on Board" signs that appeared in 80% of the cars on the road.

I remember having the same kinds of thoughts back then about how our culture values children more than adults. What exactly were these "Baby on Board" signs conveying anyway? "I know you were planning to smash into me but WAIT! There's a BABY in the car - so of course you'll want to reconsider!"

Did the people with these signs really think that other drivers were riding around like the Dukes of Hazzard, swerving to avoid baby-containing cars and hand-selecting adult-only cars to smash into..."hey - there's a car with no children in it. Yipppeeeeeee! Let's go!!!!!" So it's okay to drive recklessly as long as you stay away from the babies on board?

In my opinion, the lives of each person walking this earth are equally valuable and should be treated as such. I don't care what anyone says - I am just as valuable now as I was 38 years ago. Now I just have to convince society, the media and our lawmakers of that.


Gumby said...

My friend and I have had this same conversation several times, about the absolute STUPIDITY of those signs.
Except we have come to a different conclusion - that the cars with those signs are precisely the ones that we should slam the shit out of!
Should we hit that silver Vo.lvo over there?

No, there's no sign...

Oh! There's one!


Right over there! The blue Che.vy - Baby On Board. GET IT!!!

Ozjeppe said...

Totally spot on - I've been equally annoyed by those moronicly smug stickers for a long time!

lambogurl said...

my husband and i have this conversation every time we talk about capital punishment.

Freelance Feminist said...

I actually have an interesting theory on this.

I just read Bill McKibben's book "Eaarth"--yes, spelled with two "a"s. (If you haven't already read it, do so! It's very good.) For those of you who haven't read it, it's basically a book on how extremely screwed our planet is environmentally. After explaining in pretty explicit detail how much damage we have done to our little blue marble in the sky, McKibben makes a few convincing arguments as to how we got there.

For the past few centuries, our entire economic system has been focused on growth. We need to consume more, more, more in order to boost the economy. McKibben argues that if we want to save the planet, we must move AWAY from growth. Our current system of "more, more, more" has produced waste and has wreaked havoc on our environment. We must instead buckle down and become more durable. We must focus on maintenance, not growth. In other words, we must treat our planet AS AN ADULT INSTEAD OF A CHILD. Children need to focus on growth. Adults need to focus on maintenance. We have been treating our planet as a child, and it's high time for us to move on from that.

What does all of this have to do with your post, "A Valuable Life"?

Here's my theory: THE REASON WE VALUE CHILDREN SO MUCH IS BECAUSE WE SEE OUR PLANET AS A CHILD. We have an incredibly youth-centered culture. This can be seen in consumerism and the celebration of the mantra "more, more, more." I think that society subconsciously thinks that, because our world worships growth, we must pass this worship on to children, who embody this growth-crazy mindset.