Richard Simmons III on Racism and the Value of Human Life

In these unprecedented times of division, grief and pain, we are forced to ask ourselves, “What is the value of human life?”

Human life, if there is no God, is cheap. In a godless universe, man is nothing more than a mass of chemicals.

Friedrich Nietzsche said that humans are merely animals. B.F. Skinner, the famous psychologist at Harvard University, reduced people to the status of a machine. Jean-Paul Sartre, the French existentialist, regarded mankind as nothing more than a “useless passion.”

Before he became a Christian and recanted his atheistic belief, Mortimer Adler, one of the most prominent philosophers of the last century, saw human beings as nothing more than sophisticated animals. For this reason, he said, “There is no logical reason to treat mankind differently from any other animal. Therefore, to exploit minorities or to exterminate the homeless could not be condemned any more than killing steers in a slaughterhouse.”

Again, if there is no God, Adler is logically correct.

Courtesy of Richard Simmons III

Contrast this with the life of Mother Teresa, the benevolent Catholic nun who dedicated her life’s work to caring for the sick and poor of Calcutta, India. These people lived out their lives in pain, fear, and loneliness. Many times, Mother Teresa was asked why she cared for those who were doomed. She responded along the lines of, “They are created by God; they deserve to die with dignity.” She clearly believed that every person is precious and has a great value that was formulated by God’s creative act.

So, whose perspective is correct? And what does this have to do with racial reconciliation?

I was born in 1953 and grew up in the turbulent 1960’s. During this time I lived in Birmingham, Alabama, where there were all types of racial turmoil and prejudice.

I grew up in an all-white neighborhood, went to all-white schools with all-white teachers, and attended an all-white church. I was totally segregated from the black community and I knew no blacks other than Edith, who worked for our family. This is how I grew up. Looking back, I assumed this was the way the rest of the world worked.

However, I recognized there were certain undercurrents in our city over racial inequality and social upheaval in the black community. Birmingham became an international symbol of racism in 1963 when Bull Connor directed the use of fire hoses and police dog attacks on blacks. As a nine-year-old, I didn’t really understand what was going on but it troubled me.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Richard Simmons III