The Essence of Personhood: Yesterday, Today and Forever
In a world gone mad, there is a controversy for every topic under the sun. We have, sadly, become a global Ball of Confusion, as the Temptations sang in 1969.* If they only knew the prophetic portent of those words. In 2015, we are still cogitating over what is a human being. For there to be over seven (7) billion people on the planet today and billions more who have preceded us, the question remains but the answers have gotten out of hand. The law now proclaims that corporations, firms, organizations and other non-sentient entities can be considered persons.
What happened to the universal understanding that human beings were created in the image of God? Yes, I said created, ergo, of a special, unique and divine origin. To consider that someone's skin color (melanin), hair (keratin), body morphology (nose, lips, etc.) - the preceding based on genetics over which one has no control - and location, status, language or any other external and irrelevant attribute which could not determine their essence and value, is beyond intelligence, morality and common sense.
* People movin' out, people movin' in.
Why, because of the color of their skin.
Run, run, run, but you sho' can't hide.
Two U.S. Supreme Court Justices contributed to this error in comprehension. In 1857, Justice Roger B. Taney said in Dred Scott v. Sandford, that blacks were inferior beings and "had no rights …" Hiding behind the 5th Amendment, he justified retaining slavery and indeed, expanding it, by virtue of the notion that slaves were the property of their owners and they could not be deprived of their "property".
Is the product of a human male and a human female
a human being?
"The next evolutionary step for humankind
is to move from human to kind." — Author Unknown
Personhood was not an option for my great-great grandparents, Harriet and Dred Scott, according to the new law, as it was being interpreted on that day. And not only them, but anyone (one what?) who was of African descent. Although there were thousands of Blacks who were born free, lived free, voted, were never slaves and were considered citizens, however, their fate was tied to this notorious decision. Were those who were once persons, after March 6, 1857, no longer persons?
One hundred and sixteen years later In 1973, Justice Harry Blackmun declared in Roe vs. Wade that the baby in the womb was the property of its mother with no rights nor, yet, any citizenship, therefore without protection from the potential loss of life.
And who or what gives anyone or any entity the right to demean by definition, law or impression the value and worth of another human being? We can say or print anything we'd like, that doesn't make it so. I can say I am 5'10" tall, but that statement would be a lie.
What is true, is that "like begats like" as the Good Book says, meaning that each seed replicates after its own kind. Humans bring forth humans. Unborn humans would be protected if they were pronounced to be what they are, human.
Someone famously once argued, "A baby is a baby when the baby is born." Pray tell, what was it up until then and mere seconds before its birth?
"Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is." — Albert Camus
We all know we can look at some people and have absolutely NO idea if they are of one race or another. So what really, does it matter? It matters only when some who fancy themselves in the place of God, make determinations and or broad statements that CREATE differences. There are references to languages and nations in the Bible, but nowhere does it refer to race except the implication of the human race by virtue of one progenitor. Race is an illusion: a construct to create differences in class.
Consider these statements from Acts 17:26 which should be familiar to many of you but don't miss the expositional conclusion of the matter, it is the key to the madness. ("He" references the Creator God.)
King James Bible
From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.
International Standard Version
From one man he made every nation of humanity to live all over the earth, fixing the seasons of the year and the national boundaries within which they live.
From one man he made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times and the fixed limits of the places where they would live.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
"And from one blood he made the whole world of humanity to be dwelling on the whole surface of The Earth and he marked out the times in his decrees and set the coasts of the dwelling places of humanity."
Jubilee Bible 2000
… and has made of one blood all the lineage of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.
Now notice this expositional treatment:
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And hath made of one blood, … That is, of one man's blood; the Vulgate Latin version reads, "of one"; and the Arabic version of De Dieu reads, "of one man"; of Adam, the first parent of all mankind, and who had the blood of all men in his veins: hence the Jews (u) say …
"the first man was, 'the blood of the world';"
"the reason why man was created alone (or there was but one man created) was, on account of families, that they might not be stirred up one against another;" that is, strive and contend with one another about pre-eminence …" (emphasis mine)
and they add … And it is a certain truth that follows upon this, that no man has any reason to vaunt over another, and boast of his blood and family; … when all belong to one family, and are of one man's blood, whether Adam or Noah …
Hence, the pretense exposed in the Dred Scott Decision, is of man's devices and bares no marks of fact or of sanity. It certainly lays no claim to truth. To deny a human being of their God-given right of existence with the assurances proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence is an affront to all that is Righteous and all that is of divine origin. Justice is such a thing, for which we still seem to be in search of as humans. Righteousness and Justice are indeed akin to each other. Righteousness stands alone and Justice is inherent in it.
Likewise, Wisdom and Understanding (or Knowledge) are inseparable twins. You won't find one without the other in Scripture. Hence is the message from its Author.
Knowledge is available, in which we find Understanding with which we are given Wisdom. Without these, we have the ball of confusion mentioned earlier. As that ball of yarn, as it were, unravels more and more, we find ourselves bereft of common sense. It is said that a lie told often enough is soon believed to be the truth.
Consider science, philosophy, logic, theology, math and common sense. All play a role in learning what is and what is not true. A studied research on the issue of personhood leaves us with one conclusion.
Everyone abhors the outcome of the Dred Scott case because inherently, even when people do not know the legal ramifications and the back issues, such as the usurping revocation of established law to slow and temper the spread of slavery, there is a gut wrenching reaction to telling Dred Scott and his people they are property. Likewise, there is an abominable revulsion to hearing about or seeing the termination of a preborn child. As a society, we had better get it right and soon. Time is no longer on our side to sit idly by and say or do nothing. Dred Scott was overturned by the 14th Amendment because the issue became citizenship and personhood. Will this generation have the courage to do the same?
"Human beings are too important to be treated as mere symptoms of the past. They have a value which is independent of any temporal process - which is eternal, and must be felt for its own sake." — Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians
Written by Lynne M. Jackson
Great-great Granddaughter of Dred Scott
President and Founder
The Dred Scott Heritage Foundation
Friday, January 1st, 2016
Lynne M. Jackson
Great-great Granddaughter of Dred Scott