Campus group dissects ‘better die’ mentality
The National Campus Life Network (NCLN) ‘s latest summer webinar “Better off Dead ??? Began crude and personal.
Keynote speaker Samuel Sey, a prominent and prolific Christian blogger and social media personality, shared his own story at the August 26 event about how his own father indirectly said he would have been better off than Sey was not born.
“When my brother – he is eight years older than me – was born, my parents were extremely poor. Poverty was all we knew in Ghana. My mom got pregnant and my dad basically told him that I had better die because he didn’t believe he could take care of the family with me coming into the family.
“Because of this, my father abandoned my pregnant mother and my older brother and we have not seen him since then.”
After the Brampton, Ont. Resident shared his personal stories, the presentation moved on to a discussion of eugenics, abortion, disability rights and racism. Sey and moderator Ruth Lobo, longtime executive director of the NCLN, examined how these issues could possibly cause someone to say or think “you better die because …”.
“This (‘better to die’) mentality is not just a problem of the past – it is widespread now,” Lobo said. “When you get involved in activism and debates online, you start to hear this rhetoric over and over again. I’m curious how this idea that has spread across so many spectra developed.
Sey approached the issue through a historical lens. He suggested that the ideologies of social Darwinism of the late 19th century led to the creation of a “survival of the fittest” mentality. One of the key assumptions is that biology determines the winners and losers of life. Adopting this way of thinking naturally creates a sliding path towards examining the dissimilarities between different biological groups.
He mentioned 1939 as an important year in the practice of eugenics, which advocated that the human species could be improved by mating people with desirable hereditary traits.
The most infamous example of the movement was the notion of a superior “Aryan race” that emerged from Adolph Hitler’s Germany. In the same year, the Negro Project was established in the United States under the leadership of the Birth Control Federation of America – later called the Planned Parenthood Federation of America – led by Margaret Sanger. The idea was that poverty among the black population in the south could be alleviated through better access to birth control. The project died after three years, and Sanger’s support for the eugenics movement has left his legacy in tatters. This summer, Planned Parenthood of New York announced it would be removing its name from its Manhattan clinic for “its racist heritage.”
Lobo said she was afraid “of how the eugenics mentality has worsened in Canada”.
“I have a friend who had a baby who eventually passed away, and it was really difficult. She met people who said to her, “It would have been better if this kid hadn’t been born at all”. And that’s obviously very hard for her to hear, because you hope as a culture that we can value the little ways that someone can live, even if it’s only for a few weeks or a few months.