By Tom Quiner
Each one of their lives was equally precious. They were convicted of no crime, other than they were inconvenient or simply unwanted.
What has abortion wrought for America? It has made this country less civilized. It has diminished humanity by dehumanizing pre-born humans.
I believe there is a long term goal to the sweep of human history, and that is the civilizing of man. Mankind’s history is brutal. Tribe after tribe, nation after nation has butchered their neighbors down through the millennium.
Are we making progress? I’m not sure.
The twentieth century was our bloodiest ever. Religious persecution was especially acute, as more people died for worshipping God a certain way, than the previous 19 centuries combined.
We witnessed an unprecedented expansion of so-called abortion “rights” in a country that was created with a creed that stated every single person is endowed with a fundamental right-to-life.
Human life is precious. It is more important than animal life. It is more important than Mother Earth.
I don’t mean to paint a totally negative picture. Mankind has made strides in the arts and sciences that have enhanced civilization in many ways. In this country, the poor live like kings compared to the average citizen of a third-world country.
But the dignity of man is under assault in Western Civilization as well as the rest of the world.
Historically, almost every culture has used the death penalty as punishment for murder. We’ve been hard-wired by our Creator to heed the message that “thou shalt not kill,” as I discussed in a previous essay (“The source of morality”).
Does capital punishment make us more civilized? I think not. It compounds one death with another. Many of my conservative brethren disagree with me. They site the Old Testament as validation of the efficacy and justness of the death penalty. They make a good point.
I get it.
Isn’t it time, though, for man to grow up? It’s been two thousand years since Christ walked this earth. His message is, if anything, even richer, even more meaningful in this era when so many no longer find meaning in life, whether it is their own or someone else’s.
What is the meaning of life? It is that life has meaning, even that of a man who has murdered another man. Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is still justice.
As a practicing Catholic, I am animated by the Church’s teachings on the subject. The Catholic Catechism acknowledges the state’s legitimacy in punishing capital offenses:
“Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense.”
The Church does not deny the possibility of the death penalty for a capital offense, but frowns upon it:
“Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
“If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.”
There are practical reasons I oppose the death penalty. Capital crimes that call for a death penalty are far more expensive to litigate, and more difficult to obtain conviction, than crimes which call for life imprisonment.
Even when conviction occurs, only one in ten are actually ever executed, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. This prolonged process, which can take years, even decades, is difficult on the families and friends of the victim, as confirmed by researchers from the University of Minnesota and University of Texas at Austin. Their interviews revealed that those in Minnesota …
“show higher levels of physical, psychological and behavioral health” — since ostensibly “the appeals process in Texas was drawn out, elusive, delayed and unpredictable.”
Even worse is the possibility of convicting and executing an innocent man or woman. It has happened far too often in our nation’s history, especially to our minority populations.
The United States of America needs to return to being a nation that respects the dignity of human life. The first step is to stop aborting our posterity. The abolition of the death penalty is a lesser, but still significant, step in making our country a more civilized nation.