Linda Downing

Have we stopped being human?

Once we regard people as commodities, we cease to be human. Since Roe vs. Wade in 1973, America legally solves personal dilemmas and overpopulation by abortion that has now taken some 50 million lives. The courts decided that life—that is, being human—does not begin until we can live outside the womb, and in many cases, even those babies are killed.

Granted, we are now free of 50 million embryos and fetuses with potential mouths to feed and problems to solve. If our own logic prevails, then the 52,000 and growing number of children crossing our southern border since last October at least qualify as being human, illegal or not. Of course, they are not “our” babies. They are something wriggling under silver blankets, hiding from cameras at detention centers, like the squiggle of a heartbeat in a sonogram.

If Jonathan Swift’s 1729 essay, “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burden to their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public,” was published now, some would miss the satire and think it today’s news. Swift proposed solving the economic crisis of the Irish by selling their children to the rich for food.

Many cutting-edge moderns would be more interested in Swift’s recipes for stewing, roasting, baking, or boiling the product than the plight of starving beggars. Our own arguments boil down to what’s in the pot for us, using statistics to prove our points. We cannot help the whole world, can we? We take care of our own—the 50 million gone and the ones yet to come.

Swift might be surprised to learn what a full pot can bring. In 2014 statistics say 2 billion people worldwide are overweight. The U.S. leads, having 13 percent of the world’s fat population. It seems there is more than one way to kill our sedentary, sugar-eating children.

The host of TV’s Iyanla warns us about settling for less than the best: “Better than nothing isn’t good enough.” So far, we have only come up with better-than-nothing immigration policies. Bleeding-hearts liberals and practical-minded conservatives agree on that.

Europe’s poorest minority group, the Roma or Gypsies, are a problem. The European Union opened all borders to them this year, but no country wants them. Few job prospects and discrimination keep them fleeing from place to place. France annually cleans out Roma shantytowns, saying “homeless children suffer less during summer vacation,” but they return because conditions elsewhere are even worse.

No thinking person argues that when Jesus said “the poor will always be with you” (Matthew 26:11), he meant to do nothing about it. The question regarding these 52,000-plus children in U.S. detention camps is, “What?” Well-known Roger Simon presented the facts and some concrete answers in a recent column: Follow our existing 2008 law to grant already-here children a hearing and legal advice, then get rid of that law and offer more help in applying for refugee status to the desperate south of us through our U.S. embassies in those countries.

World conditions tempt isolationism, but technology may have made that impossible. Our answers regarding our border children must be humane, or we give up our own humanness.

Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together—side-by-side.

Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at