Last week, Caitlyn Jenner received the ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage (an award presented by ESPN). Many including myself believe Lauren Hill, a freshman basketball player at Mount St. Joseph University who bravely fought brain cancer and passed away in April, should have been the recipient of the award. Lauren showed true courage throughout her illness, even raising over a million dollars for cancer research before she died.
Much has been said about Jenner in regards to how we must respect her transgender life in the name of “dignity” in an attempt to justify the reason why she should have been given this honor.
This controversy reminded me of a recent article published by Bioethicist, Wesley J. Smith, The Dilution of Human Dignity, and how the meaning of dignity has been watered down.
“The term ‘human dignity’ – properly understood – embodies the objective principle of equal and intrinsic moral worth of every human being. These days, it is too often conflated with subjective notions of behavior, aesthetics, and now in the same sex marriage case, a newly coined constitutional right to self-identity.”
Smith, in a separate article, titled, Lauren Hill Should be “Extraordinary Person”, compared how the media essentially ignored Lauren Hill’s extraordinary battle fighting cancer, and at the same time, praised Brittany Manyard, who chose to kill herself by assisted suicide to avoid her oncoming suffering from her terminal brain disease. Smith writes:
“Hill had true dignity. Yet, everyone knows who Brittany Manyard was. Far fewer know Lauren Hill’s name.”
We also saw it in my sister, Terri Schiavo’s case, repeated throughout the media was the absurd notion that Terri’s death by dehydration and starvation was going to be a “death with dignity”.
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Terri’s “death with dignity” took nearly 2 weeks. It was inhumane and an experience no family should ever have to witness.
No doubt our culture, especially the mainstream media, has hijacked our language, confusing the true meaning of words. How else would Caitlyn Jenner win an award in the name of “courage” over a remarkable young woman like Lauren Hill, or how is describing the killing of disabled persons by not providing them food or water “dignified”?
Perhaps more now than ever, we must fight back against this fast changing culture and how we’ve become desensitized to the truth. In particular, how we are incessantly being propagandized by misusing words to condone immoral behavior.