Why Rescue The Perishing?

I recently watched a film on television about the genocide occurring in Darfur. Narrated by George Clooney it focused not so much on the genocide itself but on the response to it by the United States under George Bush. Repeatedly the producers condemned Bush and our country for giving only lip service to this horrific violation of human rights.

Why hasn’t the United States stopped it – at whatever cost? Isn’t denouncing the perpetrators and then doing nothing a form of terribly cynical hypocrisy? At no time did the film suggest how the US might stop the killing.

It must be noted that these same people liken Bush to Hitler because he used force to depose another bloodthirsty regime in Iraq and continues there trying to mediate just such a civil war in that cobbled together nation. What should America do to stop these horrors? Are we, do we want to be the world’s police force? Isn’t this what the United Nations is to do? While these are looming and significant questions, there is a much greater one. Why should we stop the killing?

In a politically correct world where no culture may be held as better or more legitimate than another, by what authority does the West impose its mores on nations in Africa or Asia? It appears as if mass murder is the accepted way for some ethnic and tribal cultures to manage disputes or defend their understanding of themselves. Certainly, the Muslims of the Middle East have a markedly different view of conflict resolution than do Europeans and their descendants in the new world.

What then separates societies that find genocide and ethnic cleansing a legitimate way of preserving the tribe or sect - from those who condemn such practices? What is it about the West that it values humankind so highly? Why should we rescue the perishing and by what authority?

What are human rights? From where do they come? In today’s Darwinistic worldview, which seems to dominate western thought, who or what sets forth what rights humans have against each other or for that matter against any other species? If it is true that man grew out of some accidental chemistry occurring in the primordial ooze and proceeds only to oblivion then what but his power elevates him above other creatures? If man as Sartre concluded, is no more than “a useless passion” why is he more meaningful than the beautiful tiger? If life, per the Bard; “is but a tale told by a fool, full of sound and fury signifying…nothing” then whence man's value, his dignity, his “human rights”? Why bother to stop the slaughter? If nowhere else in 21st century thought, this is the point at which secularism multiculturalism and Darwinism run smack into Moses and Christ.

Christians and Jews come forth here to rescue the humanists from their philosophic dilemma. The God of the Bible is described as personal, vocal and moral as well as eternal, omniscient and omnipotent. Of all the animals, according to the first chapter of Genesis only man was created in His “image”. That would be as personal, vocal, and moral and possessing dignity value above the rest of creation. Later on in Genesis in the story of Cain and Abel, God condemns homicide and further still in The Decalogue He codifies the prohibition against man-killing. Like it or not what we call “Western values” and ethics are directly descended from the Torah and The New Testament. It is by the authority of Almighty God and Him alone that we may free the oppressed and rescue those about to be annihilated and it is for the sake of His image that we are obliged to do so.

Notwithstanding the above, rescue here by Jews and Christians creates its own logical dilemma for the doctrinaire multiculturalist. It is academically very difficult, if not impossible, to barge into a society’s internecine conflicts and impose one’s own concept of justice; without tacitly at least, trumpeting the superior moral stature of your own. Doing this represents a total repudiation of the foundational tenets of multiculturalism. It is even more disingenuous to intervene on the authority of God when one denies His very existence!

Kant, though arguing that we cannot know anything about God and thus He is epistemologically non-existent, nonetheless declared that we must for self preservation, live as though He is. Perhaps the contemporary atheistic-humanist cleaves to this notion? Christians who daily fail to live up to the behavioral demands of their faith while at once calling for others to do so are routinely called hypocrites. Whether this term applies universally is a topic for another day. What is not debatable however is the crass hypocrisy involved in aggressively imposing one’s own values on neighbor cultures while contending the former is not superior or more legitimate than the latter?

Christians are often said to have “checked their brains at the chapel door” while secularists pat themselves on the back for being rational. You decide which is more foolish. To believe in a God who created all things and has endowed man with a special dignity worth saving, or to act as if such a God exists while knowing full well He doesn’t?