There is little doubt that we are seeing a universal rise in prices. Nevertheless, lives are getting cheaper as society continues to tolerate deadly public policy, usually in exchange for money and power.
For several years, we have failed to attack gun deaths with any degree of commitment. After every mass slaughter, policymakers are outraged about gun violence and promise to find the silver bullet that will end the problem tomorrow morning.
The outrage soon melts away and remains latent until the next group of school children are cut down with an assault weapon designed for that purpose. Assault weapons are OK but kids should not be in schools.
Our silver bullet at the present time is a “red flag” law that will permit law enforcement to ask a judge whether or not it would be OK to take guns away from someone they suspect may do self or others harm. Seventeen states have passed “red flag” laws with success determined by time, resources and commitment of local law enforcement.
Because they are difficult to administer, the “red flag” laws get a mixed review. They are not the silver bullets some hoped but they are going to save a few lives. But a few lives are cheap.
The last session of the North Dakota Legislature considered a bipartisan “red flag” law but it was killed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 76-17. The word “considered” is ill-used. With that kind of vote, it didn’t even enter most legislators’ minds. Life is so cheap that North Dakota can afford to lose a few people.
In a poll taken two weeks ago, ABC-Washington Post found that 88 percent of Americans support “red flag” laws and 89 percent support background checks on all weapon sales. Both proposals had the support of 80 percent of Republicans, white evangelical Christians and gun-owning households.
In a democracy, such a large consensus cannot be suppressed forever. Either some positive measures will pass to release the pressure or there will be a policy explosion that will be more extreme than anything considered today.
It is easy to oppose common sense proposals when, even though we know people are going to die, the victims are yet unknown. The same is true about the lives of our great great grandchildren who will die from the consequences of global warming. But then we expect that the price of life will still be cheap.
In Third World countries, 2,500,000 children starve to death each year. We throw away enough food to save every one of them but saving lives is not a priority when life is cheap and somewhere else.
Life is cheap in the immigration detention camps. Children – not immigrants, just children – are dying while in the care of the United States government and few people care. The lives of kids from Honduras and Guatemala are especially cheap.
Then life is cheap in many abortions. Even after considering the life of the mother, incest or rape, abortion is often taken as the easy way out of situations that could have been prevented.
Generally speaking, human life is too important to be treated so cheaply. A human being is wonderment, created by God, infused with the Spirit, loved so much that Christ came to reconcile him/her to God.
So when we directly or indirectly kill another human being, we are killing the most unique thing in the universe. There will never be another human being like that in millions of years.
Lloyd Omdahl is a former professor at UND and lieutenant governor. His work appears weekly in the Herald.