Dear immix Community,
So glad to have you with us for issue 2. The amount of submissions we got for this issue doubled, which was incredible given how tiny we are. We also quadrupled the amount of submissions we published—which again is pretty incredible since there are only two of us who build the website. This issue we have some absolutely incredible pieces—an interview with a young woman from Chicago, a story self-discovery and travel, an emotional journey about suicide and social media, and of course another political update, among the other fantastic pieces!
My thanks go out to everyone who have worked on this issue with me, Molly, Sierra, Matty, Michael, Bob, and of course Brandon as well. I love our submissions this issue as well since we’ve branched out into poetry, fiction, as well as our usual social justice essays. It’s been a fun and hardworking couple of months.
In other news, it’s not been a great couple months for the world. Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump poses an enormous risk to world safety—one even larger than ISIS. ISIS still reigns, though has been losing ground. People around the world continue to think that ISIS and Islam are the same thing, and so treat Muslims with disrespect (let’s stop that). The disproportionate killing of unarmed black men, and unfair treatment of minorities by police continue. The discussion between activists and police is also a disaster in places—some are saying all cops are bad (not true) and some police officers refuse to listen to the claims of millions of people (foolish).
Women around the world continue to be raped without repercussions. Trans men and women aren’t allowed to choose their bathroom in some areas of the world, and are being shamed and killed in other areas. People are upset that black people matter—white supremacist groups are heralded by some politicians. People are still being killed by bombs, by guns, by militia, by civilians. We continue to treat animals as objects instead of beings…
The list goes on and on. We are so far away from a somewhat humane world—and though conditions continue to improve from what they were (i.e. dark ages religious thought, slavery, men butchering men in the coliseum) we also continue to make mistakes we’ve made throughout history. Old challenges of equal rights for non-dominant demographics (people who are not white, male, cis, and heterosexual) continue. Might=right continues through acts of war. Manifest destiny has squeezed its way in through a new form of Trump-ism. Yet a relatively new challenge faces us—sustainability issues and global climate change—two evident problems that populations hypnotized by advertisements, products, and business centric political thought, can’t seem to “get it together” and start working towards a solution.
I write today with a small message for all of us to consider. Mainly this: What do we consider to have intrinsic value? I don’t mean the business term, but the more philosophical one. Intrinsic meaning: Belonging to a thing by its very nature; and value meaning: relative worth, merit, or importance. So I’m asking what has value just because? What is valuable just because it exists, as opposed to being valuable because it does something?
What do we—what do you, do I, does our society—consider to have intrinsic value?
It seems as though most sane people understand that humans have intrinsic valuable. That a person is valuable just because they exist—that you don’t have to produce work, or a product, or something useful to be of “value.” Our legal system hints at this when we outlaw murder of any kind. You can’t murder anyone, no matter who they are—be it a king, a dishwasher, or a homeless person. Yet you can forfeit your value by committing a crime, and be sentenced to death in some states and other countries.
Yet around a lot of our small planet, we judge almost everything else on their productive value. Is this pig of value? Does it provide meat? Is this horse valuable? Does it provide entertainment, work, or glue? Does this tree have value? Does it provide shelter, or habitat? If a tree, or a rock, or a patch of land, or an animal doesn’t produce something it is deemed valueless and we often throw it away (i.e. the rain forest is thought by some to more valuable as agricultural land; breeding female dogs at puppy mills are killed when they stop producing pups).
Many businesses, most governments, and almost all fanatical groups (such as ISIS, the KKK, etc.) do not treat people with intrinsic values. Most businesses run the model of cutting those workers who stop providing the work they deem of most value. Governments often declare war and kill people with little thought to their value as beings. Fanatical groups often find people only have value if they align with their belief systems. If you don’t praise this god, or if your skin isn’t white, or if you don’t adhere to this specific moral or theological code—then you are not of value.
I (obviously) disagree that humans don’t have intrinsic value. If you exist, you have value. I would add this to Descartes “I think therefore I am”—I think therefore I am and therefore I have value.
People have value, no matter what they are contributing to society. The most insane serial killer has value as person (though her/his actions and interactions with people should probably be monitored and limited).
I also believe this should be attributed to all beings—not just humans. Cattle, pigs, squirrels, mosquitoes, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Leatherback turtles—no matter how beautiful, or how delicious, or what have you, these animals have value just because. All plant life has value just because.
In fact I’d go as far to say anything that anything that is alive, or supports life has intrinsic value. One doesn’t have to qualify or quantify anything to know it has value. Land masses, bodies of water, molecules have value without having to produce anything. They are, therefore they have value.
(I would throw “right ideas” into the mix of “supports life” as well. So an idea of love, or truth, or principle. The action of loving someone has intrinsic value no matter what that love produces. Love is intrinsically valuable—but that’s sort of getting off topic).
This idea of anything alive or supporting life having intrinsic value I think is a small part of the solution of the sustainability issues, the global climate change, war, mass murders, etc. My hope is someday we educate on a large level that everything is valuable without having to be productive.
This is I think would be an excellent lesson to the business sector, which often tosses that which is not productive—a line of thinking that has created mass ecological destruction. I think it could give governments much more pause before declaring war—as politicians constantly dehumanize the enemy. The same goes for fanatical groups.
This idea of intrinsic value vs productive value is controversial. There are constant conversations about people deserving shelter, education, and healthcare without needing to be a productive member of society. In the states most of the political world argues this is not the case—in order to have shelter, education, and healthcare you must be a productive member—you must have that productive value. But if we all have value just because we exist, then we do all deserve shelter, education, and healthcare.
The same goes for animals. They deserve to exist and to be happy just because they are beings. Since meat is scientifically unnecessary to live, we don’t have to kill animals in order to survive. These animals have value just for being alive—should we then really kill them and use them for our pleasure?
If we assign intrinsic value to anything that supports life, that means ecological systems, micro systems, plant life, etc. Since these are things that support life, this means that we are using these things (such as wood from trees) in order to live. But if we come at nature with the realization that it is valuable just because, I think society as a whole will be extra careful in the removal of nature. For example, if a rain-forest is valuable just because, yet we need to use materials from it in order to survive, then I think society would be cognizant of its use of the rain-forest materials, and careful not to destroy it—understanding it has value because it exists and therefore shouldn’t be removed from existence.
In short I wonder what you all will think about this statement. Everything that lives or supports life has intrinsic value. Everything that has intrinsic value deserves respect of life. What we do not need to live, we should not use, because it’s destruction is useless. What we do need to use, deserves a careful eye so that we do not overuse it.
But what say you?
Your Editor in Chief,
J. Sam Williams
(If you want, send your comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org)