ProLifeCorner- By Larry Plachno- It was 150 years ago, on April 9, 1865, that General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia after finding his troops surrounded and outnumbered. This ended the Civil War. Or did it? Some people suggest that this same battle continues today in other forms.
Many people will acknowledge that the bloody battle was fought over whether people could declare a group to be inferior or less than human. Slavery was legal in the early days of the United States of America. The 1787 Constitutional Convention witnessed the famous “Three-fifths Compromise” whereby slaves would be counted as only three-fifths of a person for determining representation and taxation.
In the following years, the question of slavery became increasingly volatile. There were strong feelings on both sides when states coming into the union decided to be “free” or “slave.” While all of this was going on, numerous people helped slaves escape via the Underground Railroad. However, the U.S. Supreme Court in its infamous Dred Scott decision of 1856 declared that all people of African ancestry – slaves as well as those who were free – could never become citizens of the United States and therefore could not sue in federal court.
Approximately 620,000 people lost their lives in the Civil War. This is more than the Americans who died in both World War I and World War II combined. One would think that this kind of carnage would forever settle the question of whether we could declare a group to be inferior or less than human. But that question continues and has caused even more deaths.
In retrospect, this question should be easily answered. From a Christian standpoint we know that God sent His Son to earth to suffer and die to atone for our sins. Jesus Christ gave us two rules to live by: love of God and love of neighbor. We show our love for God by evaluating our actions and decisions as good or evil. We show that we are a follower of Jesus Christ by defining “good” as what is best for other people and society. Hence, there is absolutely no room in Christianity for deciding that a particular group is less than human.
From a secular standpoint, you have a similar situation. Society operates much like a team. When we work together we all come out ahead. When we put our own personal desires ahead of what is best for others, we have disagreements and major problems. The Civil War was a bloody example of what happens when we cannot agree on good and evil.
It is important to understand that the evil is not limited to slavery but includes any and all situations where people take the position that a certain group is unwanted, inferior or less than human. The basic reason for this being that different people have different ideas on which groups are unwanted, inferior or less than human. They are not going to ask your opinion but will make their own decision. Hence, once people believe that it is OK to judge groups as unwanted, inferior or less than human, no groups are safe.
Sadly, this same question of whether we can declare a group to be unwanted or less than human keeps coming up over and over again. In many cases the bloodshed is worse than what happened during the Civil War.
The historians and researchers point to Communism in Russia as the single biggest killer since the Civil War. This included the murder of hundreds of thousands of Don Cossacks, the intentional starving of about five million Ukrainian peasants and the deportation and death of thousands of Estonians. In most cases the people were killed not because of what they did but because of what they were – in many cases either unwanted or a threat to Communism. One source estimates that more than 61 million people were killed to insure the continuation of Communism. What makes it even more pitiful is that these deaths served no purpose since Communism eventually fell.
The second largest killing since the Civil War took place in China. At about the time of World War I the Chinese government fell apart and was replaced by a number of independent regions that acted like independent nations and were run by what some people called warlords. What resulted was tremendous bloodshed as people died for numerous reasons or simply because they were unwanted or got in the way. The number of victims was estimated as high as 35 million people. Again, most of them died not because of what they did but because of what they were.
What is noted as the third largest killing since the Civil War is the Nazi Holocaust and killing of non-combatants in World War II. Since many of the leaders took the position that any non-Arians were inferior, much of the killing revolved around who people were rather than what they did. While the Jews represented a major group, the killing extended to numerous other groups that were also unwanted including Russians, Poles, Slavs, Serbs, Czechs and even German citizens. Total numbers are unclear but some suggest at least 20 million non-combatants died including as many as one million babies and children who were less than 18 years of age.
A current problem we are facing is the people who do not respect the other gender. While this generally does not lead to killing people, it is causing major problems for society. This has led to a lack of marriage in spite of the fact that marriage is good for both society and the individuals involved.
Both the civilizations of Greece and Rome faced a lack of marriage as their civilizations fells apart. Rome even passed laws to encourage marriage but the citizens failed to heed this warning. Marriage is a major factor in reducing social problems including poverty, homelessness and crime. From a Christian standpoint, Marriage is a reflection of God on earth. When Jesus Christ admonished us to love our neighbor, he did not provide an exemption for marriage.
An interesting question is whether government eliminated the family wage because it felt that married people and families were unwanted or inferior. In contrast, ancient Rome encouraged marriage because it was good for both society and the individuals.
One of the major reasons why marriage is so important is that it is a basic building block of society where people learn to set aside their selfishness and work together as a group. Both marriage and religious vocations stand out in eliminating selfishness. The individual in a religious order owes allegiance to his or her superiors and works to help parishioners, patients, students or any other group their ministry serves. In marriage, the members of the family work together for the good of the family while the parents help each other and their children. This serves as a model for how our society should function.
At his April 15, 2015 audience, Pope Francis talked about the importance of Marriage. “In order to resolve the problems in their relationships, men and women need to speak to one another more, listen to each other more, get to know one another better, love one another more. They must treat each other with respect and cooperate in friendship. On this human basis, sustained by the grace of God, it is possible to plan a lifelong marital and familial union. The marital and familial bond is a serious matter, and it is so for everyone not just for believers. I would urge intellectuals not to leave this theme aside, as if it had to become secondary in order to foster a more free and just society.”
Pope Francis went on to say: “God entrusted the earth to the alliance between man and woman: its failure deprives the earth of warmth and darkens the sky of hope. The signs are already worrisome, and we see them.”
Today, this evil of declaring groups as less than human shows itself in abortion. Several sources suggest that at least 60 million babies have died since the passage of Roe v. Wade. This is now becoming the largest carnage in recent history and possibly of all time. In many ways this reflects the earlier examples by eliminating those who are unwanted or who are made to suffer because of what they are rather than what they do. There are numerous comparisons. To make the Jews suffer more, the Nazis came up with the idea of putting Jews into a railroad car with quicklime on the floor that produced terrible burns and eventually caused death. Not far removed from that, abortionists have a procedure that injects a saline solution into the womb. The baby swallows the salt solution and also suffers the pain of burned skin until his or her heartbeat stops.
Reminiscent of some of the earlier carnage is the practice of dismembering the unborn baby while still in the womb. Other abortionists will deliver the baby alive and then kill him or her through various means. Even the Greeks and Romans passed laws against abortion.
Are we still fighting the Civil War? The big question is whether we can declare a particular group as unwanted, inferior or less than human. If someone feels that they have a right to declare a group as unwanted or less than human, then they essentially agree with the Communists, the Chinese warlords and the Nazi leaders who also felt that they had a right to declare a group as unwanted, inferior or less than human. If one person can do it, then anyone can do it.
Editors Note: Larry Plachno is a successful businessman, publisher, author, and composer of an incalculable number of articles relating to family, life issues and associated problems and solutions. This barely scratches the surface of what Larry really is. His love of God, family and country is inspiring.
For years now Larry has shared his writings with us here at the ProLifeCorner and we are truly humbled by his generosity.
Larry is also an ardent blogger and is a prolific writer. You can follow his work at: www.unselfish.org