Melbourne seems to have five coffee shops along every street, but despite all of that caffeine Australians are remarkably chill. That’s why I never expected to be talking about gun control. Several people have brought it up. Australians have an interesting view on the subject since guns are not permitted. At the same time, though, it’s hard to “get” the American point of view without immersing yourself in our culture. Similarly, I cannot fully understand the Australian opinion, having only been here two weeks. Culture plays a strong hand in each person’s worldview.
Try as we might to separate from cultural influences, I believe it is impossible to do so completely. Culture should be respected – but is there a time we have to push it away? Can anything transcend culture? Does anything give us the right to ignore another’s culture?
Recently, someone discussed human trafficking and culture with me. We talked about the Cambodian village featured in the documentary “Nefarious,” a village where it is typical to prostitute your daughters by day — in order to enjoy TVs, cell phones, and other luxuries. Not for survival. Not from desperation; but for luxury. Fathers sit in front of the house and play cards while their seven year old daughters are raped for profit.
This village has created a culture that accepts exploitation if it means reward. They are building a culture where humans are used, not valued. The person discussing this with me thought education would solve the problem.
“They’re not educated.” He said. “They don’t understand.”
While my friend is a genuinely kind and intelligent person, I wonder about his response. Is the value of a person really something that must be taught? Is it only something that comes with Western education? Doesn’t that mean we’re saying Western culture is the only correct culture – only “civilized” culture?
And even with education or Western culture, understanding that a human soul is priceless cannot be a given. Hitler wrote a best seller. Then he attempted to wipe out all Jews in some of the most despicable ways imaginable.
“Hitler was a fluke,” you might say.
But thousands of Nazis followed him, committing the murders themselves. Genocide. The price of a human being meant nothing to them.
What’s the only way to truly know how precious human life is? It really only comes when we know the Creator. I don’t tell you this from the stance of an indoctrinated Christian. I tell you from my own experience – my own life.
We only realize how valuable human life is when we dismiss the culture of our nation and choose the culture of the Cross. That’s when we see how special each person is: enough for an Almighty Creator to plan their life even before conception (Psalm 139:1-18), enough for Him to care for each detail of their life, and enough for His only Son to die on their behalf. (John 3:16-18)
That’s love. And that’s the true value of a human being.