Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As Americans we love to quote these words with all the patriotism we can muster, yet the way we live and the decisions we make as a country poorly portray such principles and values.
The trouble arises with the pursuit of happiness. Everyone seems to be in agreement that they want happiness, although they disagree as to the best way to achieve it. Some believe government should provide safeguards and bumpers for the falls in life so that its citizens and residents don't have to suffer. Others believe that pursuing happiness requires that the government remains hands off, allowing people to pursue their dreams and aspirations without the threat of regulation, roadblocks and red tape that is associated with increased government intervention. As a country and a people we want to be happy but we don't always agree on the path to getting there.
Liberty is another matter of contention. Liberty is all about freedom. This is the word that embodies rights. This is the word that makes America purely American. But again, it raises argument and disagreement between Americans. Ronald Regan said it best: "Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty." Part of the country wants more power in the hands of the government while the the other part sees that as the slow degeneration of their liberties.
Trying to convince someone on the other side of the ideological aisle to see things differently is like trying to persuade a two year old to give up their candy: good luck.
These two big principles, although fundamental to our country, are nothing compared to the first principle in our patriotic mantra. They pale in comparison to the most basic, most essential value laid forth by our founding fathers.
Life. Without it we are nothing. Without the right to life... to be born... there is no possibility of enjoying liberty and there is no happiness to pursue.
If someone can choose to take away our lives we have a bigger issue then accumulating wealth or growing the entrepreneurial spirit. People need the security that their life is safe and protected to be able to move onto higher values and aspirations.
In Africa, genocide has run rampant. Men and women have been killed simply because of their family tree, residential location or skin color. Children have been seperated from their parents, orphaned and left searching for a safe haven. In the book, "A Long Way Gone," a boy from Sierra Leone experiences the burning of his town and the displacement of his family. He becomes separated from them and then is taken by the enemy to be a boy soldier. He is forced to perform acts that are horrifying and pure evil. Escaping was inconceivable. He had no safety. Each day was simply another day to survive. He couldn't think about a future or accomplishing something of value. All he could focus on was living till tomorrow. It was not until he was rescued that he could begin to dream again. He needed to be secure and safe in the physical sense before he could concern himself with higher aspirations of liberty and happiness.
This security starts before a child hits a certain age or a certain mental capacity. People need this security and guarantee of a life before a breath can even be taken in this world. Life must be so valued and so sacred that it is put above all else from the very start. This is the way God created us. Before we were formed in our mother's womb we were created in the image of God. He made plans for us before we ever showed up on a pregnancy test or ultrasound machine. God values us and our lives so much that he planned ahead for it and prepared for it. Isaiah 49:1 says, "Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name." God acknowledges His children before they ever reach this earth. They are special and set apart before they even make their first cry of welcome into this world.
God doesn't take life lightly. It is so precious to him that he plans and prepares long before the date of birth. If God puts such a high value on life, who are we to devalue it? Who are we to say that it doesn't matter until we can put a face on it? Who are we to say that a certain moment in the womb is "the" moment that there is actual life? God already named that person. God already made plans for that person!
The time that life begins is not ours to debate and it is not ours to set. God already set the time. By the time we know about a pregnancy God knows about the life. He already set it apart and gave that person a name. Each and every person, created in God's image, is alive and forming while still in the womb. God is using that time to grow his creation. The formation of cells is no accident. They are all part of his handiwork to grow the person God already created.
Life must be secured. It cannot be subject to human opinion and emotion. The security of life trumps all else. It gives us a foundation to pursue our dreams, enjoy our freedoms and find true happiness. Without life the rest is impossible. A country that denies that first freedom to the most innocent and helpless of their citizenry deserves not the other two.