Friday, May 29, 2009

Morally, Is One Innocent Life Worth More Than Another?

It's very clear that in the secular world lives have different values. Try running over a neurosurgeon and a WalMart greeter and you'll quickly learn the difference. This is to be expected...if I recall, even the Bible carries instructions on making financial restitution for the loss of a life.

But, in the moral world, where we talk in hard to gauge terms such as "justice," and "fairness," how do we value lives?

The reason I ask this question is because now, at this moment, innocent lives are being lost in Afghanistan and Pakistan...and still so, but to a lesser degree, in Iraq.

Specifically, one of our Predators (flown from Florida, or California by a pilot/technician who, after work, can go surfing) takes out a house harboring Taliban and, in the process, kills ten other people, many of whom are children.

Certainly, in such cases, our representative makes financial payments to the family of the slain innocents. This much we know.

But, is this enough? Have we made restitution?

Some would say that Pakistan is a war zone, and, as such, contains innocent people who are sometimes inadvertently killed. I can buy that argument, IF we flip the coin and address the statement I've heard that says that our war on terror knows no borders and, thus, includes our own houses. Would we send a missile into a house holding known Taliban (or other extremist groups) if innocent people were there, too? (Our most recent action of using deadly force in a situation somewhat analogous to the house in Pakistan was when we stormed the Branch Dividians in Waco, with subsequent horrendous loss of life.)

But, now, at this moment, would we bomb a house here where even the slightest prospect of taking the lives of children existed?

Then why do we do so in Pakistan?

Mind you, I'm not saying we shouldn't try to root out the Taliban, which is infamous in its treatment of those who disagree with its interpretation of Islam. I am positing, though, that we ask the question I have posed: Is the life of an innocent person in Pakistan (or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Somalia, or Mexico) worth less than the life of an innocent in U.S. of A?

We HAVE to ask this question; we HAVE to answer NO to this question; and only THEN can we find true justification for the loss of innocent lives in other places (if such justification can, indeed, be found).

Perhaps we don't ask this question for the same reason we don't ask other questions: we don't want to have to answer it with what we really feel.

Mike S.


Rich Baty said...

Good point Mike, I like your ananlogy!

Don said...

I'm reading your book and you got a bit squishy so I looked you up. I don't agree. Our latest move to limit civilian deaths will result in the Taliban surrounding themselves with walking human shields. They don't need hi-tech body armor. They enemy is going to win simply because he is crueler than we are. We can't win because we care more about the enemies women and children than he does.

Mike Sledge said...

You are probably correct!!!! And this is one reason why we have to understand that victories often must be sought in other than a military fashion.

Mike S.

Mike Sledge said...

New article showing statement by our Afghan military commander saying that we have to protect civilians.

Basically, we will adopt a "wait them out" position in situations where the Taliban has taken shelter among civilians. This is similar to how we do it in the US.