Recently I was reminded of the value of humanity while enjoying one of my favorite evening activities: snuggling into the couch with my hubby and enjoying a good movie. Once of the best movies we’ve watched lately is Hidden Figures. It’s about three African American female mathematicians doing calculations in a back room at NASA. These three were actually key players in sending our first American astronauts into space. It is a great movie, with great characters and a great story but there is a scene in the movie that is etched in my mind. It’s the one where Al Harrison (played by Kevin Costner), as the head of the NASA team, confronts Katherine Johnson in front of an all-male staff of mathematicians. Harrison asks her,
“Where do you go every day? For 45 minutes at a time you disappear, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day! Where is it you go?”
The silence in the room is deafening as he waits for Katherine to respond. When she does she says, simply,
“To relieve myself. There are no bathrooms for me here.”
You see, in 1961, America was still segregated by race, the bathrooms for “colored folk” were a quarter mile away across the NASA campus. At that time, colored NASA staff worked in back buildings, of out of sight and out of mind. That scene between Harrison and Katherine Johnson seemed to stop time for me. Because I realized that in that moment, Al Harrison came face to face with the value of Katherine Johnson’s humanity. And it changed him.
How do we begin to value humanity?
We’ve come a long way in respecting the humanity of all people groups regardless of race, age, nationality, social class, developmental ability, religious preference… all except for one. There is still one people group we forget about, one who is out of site and out of mind. That’s the pre-born. Rather than being recognized as the valuable human beings that they are, pre-born babies are dismissed as simple tissue and discarded through abortion at astronomical rates. Science has proven that life begins at conception. Whoever tells you different is throwing every embryology textbook ever written out the window. But we’ve politicized the life/choice issue. And while politics are important to our democracy, the value of pre-born life is not a political issue. Because the value of a life does not reside in a political stance. It resides in the humanity of the individual person.
You see, whether we are Democrat, or Republican, liberal or conservative, white, black, old, young, refugee or American, we all have a shared humanity. And that’s what Al Harrison came face-to-face with in Katherine Johnson. The realization of the humanity of this one woman’s life, no longer out of sight and out of mind, elevated her value in his eyes. Harrison realized that she had needs and wants just like he did and it changed him. What if we all allowed a glimpse of the humanity in another person to change us?
A Mind Changed by Sight
One of the most poignant stories I remember our nurses relating this last year (2019) was one in which a young woman walked through our doors at our MyChoice Clinic exclaiming, “Get IT out of me! IT’s killing me. I just want IT out!” She pointed to her extended belly as she talked. During her ultrasound though something happened. As she lay there watching the screen and listening to our MyChoice nurse point out the chambers of the brain and the heart, our client exclaimed quietly,
“Oh… HE has a heartbeat!”
Her pronoun changed and with it so did her heart. From then on her baby was a HE not an IT.” She had just come face-to-face with his humanity and that realization elevated his value in her heart and mind.
So, where does our humanity come from?
That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? The Bible says that what makes us human comes from God – that we are made in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27). Male and female God made us, with characteristics unique to each of us but physical, mental and emotional features common to all of us that give us a shared humanity. But God doesn’t stop at just creating us. He shares in our humanity by sending His son to earth as a man.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (ESV)
This verse is, of course, referring to Jesus Christ, who loved us so much, He came to earth and experienced what we experience as humans. Jesus shared in our humanity and then showed us that our shared humanity has value. He showed us that we EACH have value. And it’s that value that we seek to bring to the forefront for each of our clients.
How does Life Services Value Humanity?
To those of us at Life Services, human life has value in all its variations. We do not discriminate against race, age, sexuality, nationality, social class, developmental ability, or religious preference. No matter what their past holds, we see something incredibly valuable in every person who walks through our doors. This can show up in a multitude of ways:
- a fearful mother or young couple walking through our doors
- an innocent preborn child, whose future might be uncertain
- an abused young woman or homosexual young man walking in for their free STD tests
- a conflicted 35 year old woman seeking some peace for the abortion she had as a teenager
These lives are never out of site or out of mind for us. We see life and the opportunity to help change the trajectory of each human life. Our ultimate goal is that here in Spokane and around the world all life will have protection, value and the ability to flourish.
As we enter 2020, my hope for each of us is that this year, we come face-to face with the humanity of another, maybe even someone kept out of our sight and out of our minds. My prayer is that their lives would impact us in a way that opens our eyes to their value. And my challenge is that we would let that impact create in us a change in heart and approach. Let us become people who reflect the heart of Jesus to every human, especially the pre-born.
Written by Glendie Loranger: Life Services Executive Director
Edits by Elizabeth Mahar
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