In a state far away, a man who looks like me shoots a man who does not. Many who look like the man who was shot organize a public outcry. I’m grieved but I don’t know what to say or do. No one asks me about it. I move on without fear of being shot myself, without hatred toward the shooter and without frustration over a broken system. I move on in relative silence, ignorant of my ignorance as to what the world is like for the men who do not look like me.
While I am sleeping, 100 people die in a bombing halfway around the world. Some of them are children. I wake up, read about it in the news and head off to my breakfast appointment, ignorant of my ignorance as to what the world is like for those who do not live where I live.
On my way to work, there is a woman at the stoplight holding a cardboard sign. The sign says she is hungry, but I think she just wants to get high. The light turns green, and I drive on, ignorant of my ignorance as to what the world is like for those who don’t have a house key and a credit card.
As I drive, I pass a gated mansion with an expensive vehicle parked near the well-manicured lawn. With a pang of jealousy, I think, “must be nice.” I drive on, ignorant of my ignorance as to who they are and how they live.
On my social media feed, a “friend” posts an article that touts an ideology I abhor. I dislike their position and therefore I disregard the person. I scroll on, ignorant of my ignorance as to what the world is like for someone whose opinion deviates from my own.
Varying Human Worth
Every single day I struggle against the human curse of making much of me and making little of others. My life is a constant campaign to be promoted and preserved. I do not, by instinct, consider the soul worth of every other human being. I do not intuitively grasp the weight of how someone who is different from me processes and sees the world. Yet, the more potential they have to affect me—the more they have to offer me or the closer someone is to me—the more I end up caring and that, too, is telling of my egocentric curse.
The truth is that events or persons, near or far to me, like or unlike me, are worthy of my concern and advocacy, yet it is so hard to remember and react like they matter. I want to love, value, fight for and speak up for the one who is different from me and the one who is marginalized and the one who is far off, as well as for the one who is the same and the one who is in control and the one who is close.
I am pro-life, and that means taking up a daily battle against bias. Human worth cannot be calculated based on geography or gender. The value of a person is not determined by their race or religion. People matter, regardless of their position or their possessions. Both villains and victims have value. Whether someone is in the womb or out of the womb does not make them more or less human. While we may have a sliding scale of intelligence, strength, wealth, attractiveness or achievements, we do not have a sliding scale of human worth. I know this explicitly, but my behaviors and thoughts continue to reveal implicit and deep-rooted biases. I must wake up to the ignorance of my ignorance. I treat different people differently.
Throwing Off the Bias That So Easily Entangles
Breaking through bias is an essential element of Christ-likeness. Following Christ means loving enemies, disregarding social acceptability and putting to death snap judgments and self-absorption. People matter because they matter to God. It takes effort to see each other and know each other the way God sees us and knows us.
To love people is to serve people. To truly value others is to actually listen when they talk. To be sensitive to their sensitivities. To be personally broken up over what breaks others. To be moved by what moves them. To get inspired by what is important to someone else. To offer help before they have to ask for it. Pray that God would cure our epidemic lack of empathy.
Everyone with a human soul has worth. When we subconsciously evaluate, “Does this person matter?” our actions should display a resounding “yes!” every single time. Our value is not variable and it does not ebb or flow. Our worth is inherent, given by humanity’s Creator who delights in us. Our worth is profound and worthy of protection by those who recognize it.
We will not always agree, but that cannot ever reduce another’s value or our resolve to esteem and cherish each human life. We will not always concede but we will always love. The contentious nature of our political system and our cultural ideologies or whatever makes us different should not affect how hard we work at loving and serving one another with every ounce of strength, while we stand on the immutable Word of God. We are created equally in God’s image. Let our voices and our actions reiterate with every chance that we are given that people—naturally, absolutely and unchangeably—matter.