The devaluing of individual human lives is responsible for the past century being the bloodiest in human history and puts our civilization in peril, with both collectivists and “radical individualism” contributing to the problem, according to acclaimed filmmaker Jason Scott Jones.
Jones, best known for his gripping film, “The Stoning of Soraya M., is also the author of “The Race to Save Our Century: Five Core Principles to Promote Peace, Freedom and A Culture of Life.”
In his book, Jones posits that since the start of World War I a century ago, mankind has slipped further into a state of “subhumanism” that is increasingly indifferent to the fate of individual lives.
“Subhumanism is really the culmination of various ideologies of evil that have collided and amalgamated into this new ideology that denies the incomparable dignity, beauty and worth of the human person. From 1914-2014, it’s been the most violent, bloody period in human history, with horrible genocide and total war,” said Jones.
Jones cites five contributing factors that he sees as stepping stones to subhumanism, including the total war concept of targeting entire populations instead of just the military, racism and nationalism and utopian collectivism.
Those concepts are seen as characteristics in the 20th century horrors of the holocaust, Josef Stalin’s USSR, communist China and the Killing Fields of Cambodia. However, Jones also says subhumanism results from the western tendencies of “radical individualism” and “utilitarian hedonism.”
“Those two are probably the most difficult to talk about as Americans, because those are the ideologies of evil that afflict our culture,” he said.
For years, Jones considered himself libertarian in nature, but has since concluded that approach devalues life from the opposite end of the spectrum from totalitarian states.
“When we look at today in the United States, with divorce ripping our families apart, the devastation of pornography and the horrible crime of abortion, we see what happens when we deny the true dignity of the human person and deny our inter-connectivity as part of the human family, he said.
Jones says while collectivists and fierce individualists disagree on virtually everything, they hold one thing in common that is very destructive to society.
“Individualists and utopian collectivists both agree that the only two realities in society are the state and the person. As conservatives and as Christians, we understand there are these beautiful institutions, these natural institutions in civil society, that are intermediaries between the person and the state: the family, the church, community organizations. These are very important to a humane society,” said Jones.
However, he believes these critical institutions are under constant assault, especially from an ever-intrusive government.
“The family’s been ripped apart. We don’t even talk about the family anymore. We talk about the nuclear family, but, really, the nuclear family is nothing but the family decaying. The nuclear family is just one step away from a completely broken home,” said Jones.
“The church has been pushed completely out of civil society. The church can’t be involved in adoptions anymore. The federal government is forcing them to get out of medicine or get involved in the abortion business,” he said.
Jones also offers six “whole-life principles” as a guide for reversing the cultural slide, starting with a renewed appreciation for each human life.
“It is reclaiming and re-asserting the idea that each and every human being, every person, has this incomparable dignity, beauty and worth, whether it’s a child with Down’s Syndrome in the womb of her mother, whether it’s an elderly person at the very end of life, whether it’s the poor, whether it’s the children who happen to be in war zones on the other side of the world,” said Jones.
He further claims that deep respect for each life stems from a transcendent moral order. Jones says many in society get very uneasy at the notion of there being a higher law than the ones in the U.S. code but when push comes to shove we all know it’s true and history provides many examples.
“After World War II, they wanted to try these Nazis for crimes but they hadn’t broken any laws. They, in fact, followed the laws to the ‘T’. So the West, again, begrudgingly has to acknowledge there’s a law above the laws of man. I think it’s important that we acknowledge that to prevent the next holocaust rather than finally, begrudgingly acknowledge it to try those who perpetrated the crimes against humanity,” said Jones.
Other principles highlighted by Jones include extolling the moral unity of the human family and developing a humane economy. But he says the road back starts with honoring life and he says the current abortion debate actually provides a golden opportunity to do that.
“It’s obviously the greatest tragedy in the United States today when one out of three of our children are destroyed by abortion. But it gives us a real opportunity, a milestone to aim for: full legal protection for the human person from the moment of their biological beginning. It is the beginning, the first real milestone into a culture of life, love and beauty,” said Jones.
He also believes that fighting tirelessly for the institutions of the family and church will strengthen society and serve as a vital check against the state’s efforts to control more and more aspects of our lives.
“If we look at the 20th century, from Stalins’ Russia to Mao’s China to the Khmer Rouge, they had to decimate those intermediary institutions between the state and the person. I think this is a crucial step in promoting a humane society,” said Jones.
“We don’t need to ask the federal government’s permission to build a strong, vibrant family, to be involved in our local community or to be involved in our church,” he said.
But how does this change happen after a century of descent into subhumanism? Jones says it’s all about how society is engaged on the issue.
“I think being involved in the arts and education and mass media gives us the opportunity to communicate ideas pretty quickly. We just have to be bold and proclaim them and have a sense of urgency,” said Jones.
“I wrote this book more than just to give answers but to really just create in folks the burning sense of urgency. Things are beginning to unravel, but we do not need to despair. We have everything we need to create a culture of life,” he said.