“The United States is defined by values, not by race, and not by ethnicity” -Dennis Prager Right to life; The primary cultural value In every civilization there have been values that tied the people together. Most civilizations, no matter how remote or how prominent, have a unique set of cultural values. These values are upheld and passed down between generations, they can be based on the myth or lore that they spread in their culture, or science and philosophy. But whatever way the values come, they help or hinder the development of the country.
One can see that in every major power in the world, past or present, the values are definitions of the culture. America has a prominent culture in the world. This culture is defined by a specific set of cultural values, that seemly dictates the peoples lives. Values like autonomy and responsibility, work ethic, control of time, and law and equality define America.
Above all of these values, however, lies a core, primary, value that is the primary reason the culture is defined as it is.
The success and greatness that is seen in America today is because of one, core, value that was held at its conception. This value is that humans were made in the image of God, therefore humans have objective moral rights.
Because of this, America has developed secondary and tertiary rights that have both been proclaimed at the inception, and have gone under development since that. The value of human life is seen in the Bible both implicitly and explicitly.
When God is dictating to the Israelites the ten commandments they should follow in their society, murder is prohibited. This is because humans are not subject to the ways of the beasts of the earth, rather they are made Imago Dei, in the image of God.
In Genesis 1:26-27, God says that He will make humans in the image of Himself, so that man might rise above the beasts of the field. Humans have value and worth, given by God, that should not only be protected and furthered, but respected and treated with dignity. The dignity of human life that is seen in the Bible has major ramifications into America and its culture, both historically and in the modern era. At America’s conception, this biblical belief was held.
The rights placed upon the people of America are not dependent on the subjectivity of kings or presidents, rather on the objectivity of the ultimate deity. In Washington’s first inaugural address, he states; Since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity: Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.
This is seen the works of Thomas Jefferson, which reads; “This evidence of our natural right, like that of our right to life, liberty, the use of our faculties, the pursuit of happiness, is not left to the feeble and sophistical investigations of reason, but is impressed on the sense of everyman. We do not claim these under the charters of kings or legislators, but under the King of kings.’ It is reinforced here that the rights endowed on the people through the government were not given by government. Government is not established to grant people rights as they see fit, but to protect the rights that were already given.
God himself imposed certain values and rights that should be the standard for humankind. The ramifications of these values and rights that have been put forward have resulted in advancement that is unparalleled. Because human beings are valued inherently, they are beneficiaries for other rights. Human rights and equality are prominent in a country in which objectification based on sex and race was normalized. Justice is prominent in a country in a world which guilty until innocent and corruption was normalized. Liquidity in social status is prominent in a world in which serfdom and aristocrats were the primary forms of power and government. It is seen here that America’s values have advanced society farther than any other set of values.
America’s culture is superior to others. The right of life being guaranteed is a major headstart for any country. Enslavement of people is not only a horrendous evil, but empires like Rome eventually stagnated and became bloated with their economy being supported on slavery, not natural transactions between buyer and seller. Even in 18th century America, the south’s economic ability was wagered on the enslavement of Africans. When a country deems all life as equal and valuable, it allows for the economy and technology to advance. Autonomy, work ethic, and time: Secondary cultural Values When the government’s role is to protect the rights of the citizens rather than control the people themselves, personal reliance and a sense of autonomy are the product.
We see this in rights like freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Americans can say almost anything they want, and can follow almost any religion. America’s culture differs from many other culture values in regards to autonomy. PEW research found that the majority of Americans believe that success is not derived from outside sources, but from yourself. On top of that, nearly 60% of Americans prioritize individual liberty over Europeans, who tend to value the role of the state.
A poll in 2015 that found 77% of Americans believe that speech, even if offensive, should be protected. This differs from Europe- where they found a lower tolerance for free speech. These figures point to a common consensus that has been made in America- You are in control of your destiny, not the state, nor other people. Whether it be financial, moral, or social decisions, you are responsible for your choices. When personal autonomy is valued, it leads to people trying to make the most out of their lives through their means. The corollary of autonomy and personal responsibility is work ethic.
This is valued because of the way the American class system works. When you are not bound to your place in society, and can work your place up, people often will. Class liquidity is high, where if you work hard enough and dedicate yourself you can climb the social ladder. Higher education is affordable and allows young people to get a well-paying job, which also leads to the ability to increase your socioeconomic status. 73% of Americans deem hard work as a way of getting ahead in life.
This is a stark contrast to europeans, in which only 35% believe this. This adds to the consensus that Americans do not value a state that controls their lives; rather they opt to look at work ethic and autonomy as a way of working upwards. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness -The declaration of Independence Law and equality are prominent in the culture today. Almost everyone in America is equal in the sense of the law. Courts cannot discriminate based on gender or race. Employees are protected from being discriminated on the grounds of race, gender, or religion.
This seems like an obvious thing to people in the modern day, but for the majority of history equality has not been the case. In the past, black people have not had the same right to life that white people did. Women have not always had the same rights as their male counterparts. It is seen here that even in America, their were unequal levels of personhood that were granted.
America, however, has evolved out of that phrase. Compare this evolvement into law and equality with the Caste system in India. The caste system divides Hindus into 4 main groups, each having their own place in society- Brahmins (Priests and spiritual leaders), Kshatriyas (Political leaders and warriors), Vaishyas (merchants and traders), and the Shudras (Laborers and peasants). These classes are said to originate from the original humans mouth, arms, legs, and feet. Although with the new generation on the horizon, they are starting to shift away from the system, it is still prominent in India today. While America has evolved past inequality, the caste system is still in India. Instead of social liquidity and autonomy, there is little hope for anyone to ever advance outside of their predetermined caste. This is why the America has been labeled with “the American Dream.”
America has the most millionaires and billionaires in the world, despite not being the most populous nation. People’s socioeconomic advancement is based on how hard you work, not on what family you are born into. Another secondary value is time and its control. Americans, born into the value of autonomy and work ethic, have learned to value time, and they have looked to utilize it as efficiently as possible. Appointment times are honored down to the minute, as opposed to foreign countries where someone may be very late and it is acceptable. In work life, American’s can be expected to work harder and more efficiently to compete in the market. Non-americans often are surprised at how competitive our culture is. From school grades to sports to family life, it can seem like everything is a competition to be better than others. This, again, is fueled by the values that have been put forward.
Working harder than others often grants bigger rewards. Free Market capitalism ; The tertiary value Values work not only on an individual level, but have helped progress our economy and commerce. Free market capitalism has helped push innovation through competition. America has made more small business in the world, with 543,000 businesses starting up each month, however, more companies shut down each month than start up.
Small businesses have accounted for the 65% net increase in jobs since 1995. The freedom in America has allowed these businesses to try to compete in the marketplace, while new and innovated processes lead the market and force out older, less efficient processes Values such as autonomy, work ethic, time and efficiency have bled into our economics, making it one of the most efficient and innovative systems that has ever existed. While other countries resort to the forced redistribution of socialism and communism, capitalism will remain the morally superior system by relying on voluntary transactions between the business and the individual, opposed to forced transactions between an individual and government.
Why do these values matter? Free market capitalism, fueled by work ethic and competition, has made great strides for eradicating global poverty. When billions of individuals are incentives to innovate and work for the betterment of themselves, it helps to benefit the world as a whole. This is particularly important because one would think as the world population grows, as it has 7 fold over the past two millennia, that poverty would at least go up in proportional context.
Despite the huge increase in population, In 2019, there are 591 million people living in extreme poverty. That is more than 3 times lower than the 2.2 billion living in poverty in 1970. In addition to eradication of abject poverty, free market capitalism has innovated technology in the past few decades beyond belief. This has drastically improved the standard of living through medical and technological breakthroughs. In 1836 Nathan Mayer, Freiherr von Rothschild died of an infected abscess. At the time of his death his net worth was the equivalent of .62% of the national british income.
He was the richest man on earth, but he died from a simple infection, something that now would be treated with antibiotics, and the patient would be sent home in a few days. Economic advancements have made innovations in medicine, and innovations in the widespread use of medicine. These advancements in living standard are made possible by the value system that capitalism relies on, the value of autonomy ensures that you reap the seeds that you sow, and therefore people are willing to value work ethic and time. Capitalism, however, is not the only factor that helps to bring people out of poverty.
Perhaps a bigger prerequisite to capitalism and its ramifications is the right to property, which also finds its roots in the right to life. “A modern economy is built on clear ownership of property whether tangible or intangible — be it land, shares, or intellectual property.” -Barun S. Mitra, head of India’s liberty institute Securing land rights helps to combat poverty and hunger levels. Countries with stronger land rights are associated with upward trends in income. Affirming the right to your own physical property lets you use your resources how you deem fit, which allows for economic advancement. In turn this helps to reduce poverty. This is why the there is a massive push for property rights in third world countries.
However, the significance of these values go much further than economic benefits. The reason America should recognize these values goes back to the root of these values; The right to life. This is because the right to life is the primary factor in social cohesiveness. When life is no longer recognized as innately valuable, the rights that are wagered on the innate value of life are ultimately subjective. The subjectivity in human rights ultimately leads up to the government, or people playing God. The recent push for women’s rights, with respect to abortion, is an example of the people playing God Even the most elaborate and well-defined arguments for abortion work down to two main claims, the fetus is not a human because it is not
The problem with these arguments is that it does not take into account pre-existing life that do not have these traits, take a person on life support for example. A person on life support may have conscious awareness of their surroundings, but may also have a ventilator or be on dialysis. When the definition of human life is placed at the stake of independence, suddenly people who rely on machines for basic human function are not a human life, or at least a lesser human life.
People who are in comas and aren’t sentient of the world are still human lives, even though they are not aware of themselves. The truth is that this applies to everything. Whenever you do not place human life inherently in a fetus for the reasons above, the argument breaks down when you compare it to the other side of life. In 2018 a toddler named Alfie Evans was admitted to the hospital.
He had a neurodegenerative brain condition. The parents, wanting to prolong his life in hopes of saving him, decided to fly from there home, England, to Italy for experimental treatment. The one problem, however, was that the government would not allow them to do so. In this case, the government made the decision of enduring Alfies life or ending it, something that should be strictly the parents decision. The courts decided to withdraw life support from the child. Alfie, off of life support, continued to breath for nearly 3 days before his death. Even after lengthy court cases between the parents and the government, the government retained the right to withdraw treatment from the child. A similar story was recorded in the previous year, in which 11 month old Charlie Gard died after his parents debated the legality of the situation with the government.
Stories like this, as sad and scary as they are, point to a real, oncoming truth. This this is that the government in England is taking the place of God. For the government to dictate when someone lives and someone dies is immoral. When the officials deemed it right to let Alfie die, it was nothing more than a guess, hence Alfie living off life support for 3 days. If the parents had decided to instead of bring Alfie to the hospital, and instead let him die by giving him no food or water, they would be charged with negligence and possible homicide. It should be no different than when the government does this. The right to life is the primary value in America.
No matter the gender, status, race, or creed, humans have inherent worth. This is valued objectively, with no government or person being able to undermine it. This is because the right is determined by God, as humans were made in his image. The right to life has consequences, values like autonomy, work ethic, law, equality, market capitalism, and time and its control all stem from the primary value. This has led to a betterment in the quality of life in the world, with extreme poverty being decreased majorly, and major medical breakthroughs that have been able to prolong life. Although we have been able to prolong and impove life, the basic principle of allowing people to live has been invalidated in recent years. With the fight for abortion, a fetus can be aborted at will. With anecdotes like Alfie Evans, there comes a higher idea that the government can, and will, become corruptible and not work to protect our rights. The response to this is hard work.
Christians have to dedicate themselves to the principle that humans have value, and rededicate themselves to the fight for that value. And that’s not amicable work. Christians have to look at the core of christianity and realize that christian worldview expects us to fight against the evils of tyranny and sin. The future generations of America will not be able to live their lives based on the fruits of these values if nothing is done With the threat of tyranny and collectivist thought leaking into our culture, with the idolization of exploitation and laziness on the horizon, our values are at risk. This call to action is not based on circumstances or on who your are, this mission is not temporary or subjective. “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.
We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset days telling our children what it was like in the United States when men were free” -Ronald Reagan In the face of objection, collectivism, and hate, the mission is to carry the torch to the next generation. This mission does not end, this mission is eternal. If Christians don’t do it, no one else will. People now are the only ones who can stop the dangers of collectivism and corruption, and protect the principles of life and liberty.