04 December 2020

Unalienable Essence

 (I submitted this before the election to a couple of publications that did not publish it. One liked it, but I was not credentialed enough. What do you think?)

Recently, the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Former Vice President Joe Biden infamously said on The Breakfast Club podcast, “You’ve got more questions? Well I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re voting for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

This quote by Biden seems to apply the existential idea of Jean-Paul Sartre’s “existence precedes essence” in a roundabout way. In Sartre’s atheistic view, people are involuntarily thrust into existence as meaningless clumps of cells. There is no pre-rational essence, purpose or value for people in the mind of a god. At some point after coming into existence and achieving rationality, a person decides to have a self-imposed purpose, or no purpose at all. Sartre’s philosophy makes sense if there is no God to ascribe essence onto a human life before coming into existence; however, this atheistic view of essence would be shattered if God in fact existed. In theism, our essence, purpose or value are predetermined by God before we come into existence. In this case, the recognition of our personal essence could coincide, or be in communion with God’s mind, at least partially, or be in contradiction with it.

If Biden’s quote and Sartre’s idea were synthesized, there might be a new atheistic possibility. Other people, other gods, may take the place of the Judeo-Christian God in rationally creating our essence. Assuming atheism is true, we could be open to the possibility that someone else could impute their own perception of our essence, purpose or value onto us. (This is not the same interpersonal dynamic as with The Gaze of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness when our subjective essence is objectified by another while we reassert our own subjectivity.) In this case, we could have as many essences as there are people. We may be in agreement with their assignments or not, just like with the Judeo-Christian God, being in communion with some gods and not others.

Joe Biden may not know a particular black person, but if that person has a problem voting for him, he or she is not black in essence to Biden. The former Vice President is assigning essence not on one particular black person, but on an entire subset of black people who don’t vote for him. Black leftists operating the Black Lives Matter organization (BLM) and running his campaign are real black people. Black people in President Trump’s administration, like Dr. Ben Carson, are not black, whether he personally knows them or not.

Consider one black leader who doesn’t seem to be in full communion with Vice President Biden. Black Entertainment Television (BET) founder Robert Johnson told Fox News,

Now whether [Joe Biden] was as he said trying to be a wise guy or whatever, but if you’ve been supposedly hanging out with black people, you’re eight years Obama’s vice president, you don’t think like that. There’s something in you that tells you I can’t be halfway wise guy, halfway cute by telling a black man and by extension every black person listing that if you even think about voting for somebody other than me and then to use this so-called colloquial expression ‘you ain’t black,’ that’s the biggest turn off I’ve heard from a politician in a long time.

It is a question for Biden as to whether Mr. Johnson is black or not according to the “ain’t black” rhetoric. Since Johnson is turned-off by Biden and may not vote for him, it doesn’t seem that the BET founder would be part of the “every black person” subset according to Biden. No doubt Mr. Johnson has another position on his own essence.

Now consider a statement by Hawk Newsome, the black chairman of the Greater New York chapter of BLM. He told the New York Post, “When black people become police officers, they are no longer black. They are blue. And I have been told this by numerous officers.” Newsome’s statement is another instance of one person or group assigning essence, meaning or value to a group of people beyond themselves.

This could have real-world consequences. In view of the quote by Biden, no black life would most likely be physically harmed if he voted for President Trump in 2020 since voting is carried-out in private. It could be another story for black lives on the police force if Newsome’s quote were taken seriously. If enough protestors, BLM members, and Antifa members took Newsome’s idea to heart and really believed that black cops are not really black lives that mattered, real harm could come to their blue marked lives.

Lastly, BLM wrote in 2018 that, “We deserve and thus we demand reproductive justice that gives us autonomy over our bodies and our identities while ensuring that our children and families are supported, safe, and able to thrive.” The pairing of “reproductive justice” and “autonomy over our bodies” in this BLM quote implies that abortion against preborn black boys and girls is demanded. This has the most dangerous implications for black lives due to the hundreds of thousands of black preborn babies killed every year. When preborn persons of color are not wanted by their mothers, they become products of conception in an abortion chamber.

The unwanted designation of a preborn baby by his or her mother is the ultimate imputation of essence, value and meaning by another person. The differences between being designated a wanted or an unwanted human in utero are human or parasite, precious or bio-waste, life or death.

Mother Theresa’s words at her acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 speak to the power of ascribing value and meaning to preborn children.

And I feel one thing I want to share with you all, the greatest destroyer of peace today is the cry of the innocent unborn child. For if a mother can murder her own child in her own womb, what is left for you and for me to kill each other? … [N]obody speaks of the millions of little ones who have been conceived to the same life as you and I, to the life of God, and we say nothing, we allow it. … [Nations] are afraid of the little one, they are afraid of the unborn child, and the child must die because they don’t want to feed one more child, to educate one more child, the child must die.

At the end of the day, if a mother can declare that her innocent unborn child is not really a human child in essence due to asserting autonomy over her body and her identity in order to kill her child, there is nothing left for you or for me, for black lives or for blue lives, for black Biden voters or for all Trump voters from killing each other.

The final solution against violence is found in the truth of each human’s inherent dignity as Imago Dei which is our true essence, given by God to men and women of all skin hues, born and preborn at the moment of our created existence. This is why the Declaration of Independence announced self-evidently that our essence and unalienable Rights came from our Creator, not imparted to us by those in government, by others, or even by ourselves. Nationally reasserting and unapologetically teaching this American Creed in all schools is the key to bringing peace and unity back to our beloved country.

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