When I first started brainstorming how to teach the topic of human dignity to my eleventh-grade Morality class, I was eager but intimidated. Covering the topic of abortion was a must, but when I sat down to think about how I could cover the topic in a nuanced and compassionate, yet firmly pro-life manner, I was stumped. Many questions flooded my mind: ‘How do I take a firmly pro-life stance, while also expressing compassion for women who have suffered abortions?’ ‘How do I present the pro-life standpoint in a way that is transformative but not preachy?’ ‘How do I help my students see that all people have a right to life, even when that life involves suffering?’
Growing up, bedtime at the Brummond house was quite an extensive ritual. After we took a bath, my mom would let my brother and I pick out three books each that she would read to us before tucking us in. One such book that sticks out in my memory is Happy Adoption Day, a short children’s book based on a song. The lyrics to the chorus were something like this:
“‘What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?’” They paid him thirty pieces of silver…” —Matthew 26:15
It is particularly haunting to see an exact price exchanged for a human life; the juxtaposition of a finite monetary amount and the life of an infinite being is incomprehensible. In Mathew’s Gospel above, the thirty-pieces figure has been traced back to earlier scriptural references, and is thought to signify the compensation due a master when a slave is killed.
No matter how the amount is derived, calculating the worth of a human life is at once both so absurd and crass that it renders the act of killing for a specific financial gain singularly troubling.
“To each one of you Christ says: ‘I am sending you.' Why is he sending you? Because men and women the world over—north, south, east and west—long for true liberation and fulfillment. The poor seek justice and solidarity; the oppressed demand freedom and dignity; the blind cry out for light and truth (cf. Luke 4:18). You are not being sent to proclaim some abstract truth. The Gospel is not a theory or an ideology! The Gospel is life! Your task is to bear witness to this life: the life of God’s adopted sons and daughters. Modern man, whether he knows it or not, urgently needs that life – just as two thousand years ago humanity was in need of Christ’s coming; just as people will always need Jesus Christ until the end of time.”
As a former college track and field sprinter, I have spent countless hours of my life practicing. I have struggled through long workouts to build endurance, faster workouts to build speed, weight-lifting to build strength, and shorter workouts to provide rest before a competition. In each one of these instances, I began practice going through a set of drills. While these drills provided the necessary preparation for the workout, they also functioned to train my muscles to behave in a certain manner. Marching, skipping, high knees—all of these tedious drills were extremely important in creating muscle memory. Every sport has a series of drills or routines that athletes perform which allow an athlete to trust her muscles to act in the way she needs them to without thought.
Training and preparation is necessary not only in sports but in all areas of life, especially the moral life.