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Alberto de Lucas Vicente, researcher of Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra, Spain


Mon, 29 Jun 2020 10:06:00 +0000 Posted in group Vocento

I am probably not the only one who was surprised by the demonstrations of the Black lives matter movement. As someone who is taken out of a dream (nightmare, in this case) or a bubble isolated from the world, it was hard for me to digest suddenly a topic that had no direct relation with the pandemic we are living, accustomed to it monopolizing the news of all the media. Perhaps that strangeness, that look with new eyes, from a distance, like that of the outsider looking in from the outside (not because he is not affected by the problem, but because he was not prepared for it) led me to a closer examination of topic.

It is true that the pandemic has so abruptly revolutionized our whole world that it has broken with everyday life, which is so good for some things, but so bad for dealing with problems: the repetition of the bad things makes us live anesthetized, numbing us to a reality that should shake us up. The strangeness that the news produced in me, however, was not only due to this fact: something in the whole problem (a sense of anachronism) transported me to the last century, to an era that should be already overcome, at least since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A detailed analysis of the protesters' slogan led me to one of the keys to the equation. Said slogan, name also of the social movement that proclaims it, is or should be a truism: black lives matter, not because they are black, but because they are human beings. If the former needs to be proclaimed today, it is because we are not very clear about the latter, something is going wrong. We are, therefore, facing a problem of focus, the classic fixing the house through the roof.

It is a blur that cannot be fixed with a pair of glasses, which we have been dragging along for too long now, because it hides a very harmful anthropological conception that is slowly but surely being implanted in our society. The life of blacks matters, the life of the elderly (or of those older than X) matters, the life of women matters, the life of homosexuals matters, the life of immigrants matters, the life of children, born or not, matters, the life of the sick matters, the life of those who suffer from some syndrome, peculiarity or disease matters. Any human life matters and they all matter equally. All of them have the right to exist, we have the duty to preserve them and to avoid any subject violence against them, the duty to protect them. This should be the basis of any legislation (or execution, even exceptional, of the law). If this is not very clear, the rest of the legislation lacks the fundamental foundation, and with it the society that supports it. If exceptions are established or the value of human life is hierarchized, so that some are worth more than others, it is a very short step to justify genocide. If it is established that certain personal, community, social, economic, health, or any other kind of benefits are above the life of a single individual, any life ends up being dispensable.

Human life has value in itself and any human being has a series of fundamental rights intrinsic to his or her condition. This should be the idea underlying any governmental decision and the premise that sustains any current discussion : racism, care of the elderly in nursing homes and the right to attendance, immigration, euthanasia, violence in the family, abortion, homophobia, ecology, torture, death penalty... If this premise is lost, any decision will be a tap on the compass, it will contribute to lose the north.

The problem with the gradual change in the anthropological conception I mentioned earlier is that when things break all at once, it is often easy to repair them: it is easy to make everything fit together again. When something erodes, suffers constant deterioration and in various foci, the solution can lead us to the sadly famous Ecce Homo de Borja. Today, the focus is often on the human being as a problem and his death (or damage) is, at best, collateral damage, a lesser evil, if not the solution. But if human beings matter, if human life matters, the rest matters, the world around them; otherwise, the survival instinct and selfishness relativize any damage that may be caused and we are losing pieces to recompose the puzzle.