A meme just came across my Facebook page, and it really saddened me. It was a picture of a presidential candidate with whom I strongly disagree, dangling over a cliff. The image posed the question: “What would you do?”
Commentary on this post really saddened me. Do we really, as a society, place so little value on a human life that we would ignore – or even worsen – the plight of a fellow human being who is suffering or facing death? I’m not talking about heroic lifesaving efforts, nor am I talking about ending poverty or starvation, though it could be argued that these are related to my point. A similar decision is probably faced on a metaphorical level when we determine to which charities we will donate or to which programs our government will provide funding.
What I mean, however, is the literal image: a man dangling over a cliff, about to fall to his death. I cannot conceive of not helping this person, whether directly or indirectly. Certainly I would not worsen his situation by stomping on his hand or kicking him, as I have seen people say they would do.
It reminds me of when bin Laden was captured and killed, and people were celebrating this fact. While I could be thankful that no more would die at his hand, I did not feel that his death was any more a cause for celebration than anyone else’s. He was a human being. He had value. I understood the reasons for his death, but I could not bring myself to see his death – ANY death – as cause for celebration. No more would I celebrate – much less assist in – the death of the dangling political figure in the Facebook meme.
Unitarian Universalism teaches us that all lives have worth and dignity. The Social Work Code of Ethics echoes this statement in its core values. Having worked in the former field for more than four years and studied/worked in the latter for nearly three, I take this concept very seriously.