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Core Values: What Are Our Goals?

by Sarah Slater


This project intends to make our organization’s values clear to all our supporters, friends, and allies, so we can explain why we make the decisions we do. 

In this essay, I will elaborate on our four primary goals, to better explain what drives our work and why we do things in the way that we do. 

As an organization we have four primary goals that guide all of our actions. These goals find expression in written form, as parts of our mission and vision statements. 

1. Bring an end to violence against human beings at every stage of life from conception to natural death.

2. Create a culture of peace and life, to replace our currently existing cultures of war, violent conflict and killing.

3. Ensure that every human life is respected, valued, and protected, rather than disrespected, devalued, and attacked.

4. Maintain a commitment to nonviolence and nonviolent means in everything we do, because we believe that violence can never produce peace.

The first goal is the primary focus of our efforts, and is stated negatively: we want to end these forms of violence. The second goal describes the kind of society necessary to achieve that goal. The third goal relates to the specific way that people in that society should treat each other. The final goal relates to the means we strive to use. 

Goal: Bring an end to violence against human beings at every stage of life from conception to natural death.

As an organization, and as participants in a number of different movements, our goal is to see the end of aggressive violence as a means to resolve conflict, since we believe that an end to conflict precipitated by killing does not, in fact, result in peace—only a temporary cessation in hostilities.  This is the fundamental mission which has driven us as an organization since Aimee Murphy created Life Matters Journal in summer 2011, as an online magazine. 

An End to Violence

The single thing which unifies our staff, board, and supporters is opposition to aggressive violence against human beings. We differ in our preferred means, the priority we give different kinds of violence, our tactics, strategies, and in many other ways, not limited to: politics, religion, background, preferred language for discussing violence, personal experiences with violence, what we consider acceptable ways to protest, and more. 

Aggressive Violence 

What specifically, though, do we mean by violence? “Violence” can be used to speak of a variety of things, and certain actions (like surgery) resemble or are even identical to acts we would consider violence, yet because of their intentions they are not what we would consider to be a violent act we would oppose. By aggressive violence, we at Rehumanize mean, specifically, actions intended to wound the physical body of, or end the life of, a human being.

In addition to actions like shooting, stabbing, or punching (actions commonly recognized as violence), we also include opposition to medical violence. Medical violence is the administration of a medication or other medical action undertaken with the deliberate intention to end the life of a human being. Examples of medical violence include such practices as medication or surgical abortions, lethal injection as a method of capital punishment, and the administration of medications to end the life of a human being (in the context of MAiD, euthanasia, assisted suicide, etc.) 

Physical Violence 

While language is an important justification for aggressive violence, and we advocate against dehumanizing rhetoric, we do so as a means to our primary goal of working to end actions that can literally kill human beings. We avoid talking about language as “violent”, preferring instead to use more specific descriptive language like “dehumanizing”, “aggressive”, “insulting”, “abusive”, or to state that it is language which “incites hearers to violence”. 

At the time of writing this document, we focus our efforts on opposing legal and/or socially acceptable forms of violence. We recognize that even imperfect legal systems are the proper forum for dealing with offenses against justice like murder or rape. We would like to see the legal system expand to cover what we consider illegitimate forms of violence (abortion, assisted suicide) and reduce or eliminate its own violent actions (capital punishment, war, torture). 

Human Beings

Science demonstrates that human beings are human from the moment a new, genetically distinct individual is formed after sperm-egg fusion, and we argue that they retain full rights and dignity from that point on. We rarely use the term “person” because of its use in contemporary political debate to deny rights to some human beings. 

We unite around care for human beings’ lives in our advocacy. We avoid becoming entangled in arguments about the morality of issues like eating meat or environmental protection concerns, because our supporters and fellow movement members have a variety of opinions about those issues. 

We don’t rank human beings in importance.  Every human being’s life is equally important. We reject the utilitarian mindset that says that the death of many is more important than the death of a few human beings.  

At Every Stage of Life, from Conception to Natural Death

We affirm that each human being is worthy of protection starting at their conception—the beginning of their life as a distinct, self-directed human being. We believe it is right to treat human beings at the end of life with equal dignity to those in the active/ “productive” years, or those at the very beginning of their lives. Human beings are not important for what they are or can do; and human beings cannot lose their dignity by doing wrong.  

Goal: Create a culture of peace and life.

Abolishing violence is a monumental, idealistic goal, and could be pursued in a number of ways.  It’s also a negative vision for what the world should not be, not a positive vision for what the world ought to be like. In order to end violence, we believe it is important to work to build a culture of peace and life, to replace our currently-existing cultures of war, violent conflict, and killing. 

Create a Culture

All of our supporters unite around a rejection of our existing culture’s valuation of human life as interchangeable, disposable, and unworthy of protection. Our culture has a high tolerance for killing, sees support for war as identical with patriotism, and has difficulty imagining a world without violent resolution of conflict.  

Because we exist as a bridge-builder between movements and organizations, and are nonsectarian and nonpartisan, we do not offer our supporters a singular religious or political philosophy. Instead, we join together around what we have in common: support for the first and most fundamental human right—the right to life. What we have in common is a desire to see a society which values each individual human life. 

A Culture of Peace and Life

Peace is not simply the state of “not being at war” but entails positive conditions of joy and flourishing, not simply for some, but for all of society. We are united around a vision for a culture of peace and life: we want to see society flourish, with every human being able to live in harmony with one another, without the risk of being killed for another person’s convenience. 

The phrase “culture of life” is commonly used to describe a culture that values human beings’ lives. Occasionally, the phrase “culture of life” connotes bare life to the general public outside of the pro-life movement, i.e., the condition of only being alive but suffering miserably. Being alive is better than being killed, but we have a wider imagination for what life can be, than simply a reduction in how many people are killed. 

Goal: Ensure that every human being’s life is respected, valued and protected.

The preceding two goals have discussed the principal reason for which we organize (our goal of ending aggressive violence), and cast an intentionally broad vision for what a society that could end violence would look like. Our third goal more specifically discusses the way in which we encourage our supporters to treat other human beings’ lives: to respect, value, and protect them. 

Human Life is Protected 

No one is fully in conscious, fully independent control at all times during their lives, and at some times in every human being’s life we are all fully dependent on others. We advocate for protection of human life that we can all rely on when we cannot protect ourselves; protections which should be both in law and in social norms. 

Protection in the Law

We hope to live in a society one day where people aren’t executed for crimes, no matter how horrendous. We also hope to see a world where deliberate killing is illegal for any reason, including by state actors and the medical industry. (Intentional killing by private actors is generally already illegal, with reasonable exceptions we don’t object to—like those exceptions for self-defense).  

We are also specifically interested in seeing legal institutions which care for other people refrain from dealing out death or actively kill people in their care (killing in war, euthanasia, killing of unwanted children in abortion clinics).

Protection in Social Norms

Our goal is to see a world where people don’t allow others to kill with impunity. There have always been taboos against killings in some situations, but there are also intentional killings that are not taboo. Often, agents of the state are permitted to kill certain types of people in certain situations without consequence—even where those killings are already illegal, such as in jails and prisons. 

We imagine a world where people don’t look the other way when killings or attacks happen, even against vulnerable people (the homeless, the unborn, those in prison, enemy combatants in POW camps, civilians in other countries, migrants, elderly people, those with disabilities.) 

Human Life is Respected

Human life is fragile and every human being is unique and irreplaceable. We believe that the fragility and uniqueness of human life should be recognized. Furthermore, people should take actions, not only to avoid killing others, but also to avoid putting people in situations where they may be at increased risk of killing.  For example, in addition to putting people at risk for involuntary euthanasia, legalizing assisted suicide has been shown to put pressure on humans who are poor, disabled, and/or aged to seek it out for themselves.

Respect for human life entails not putting people in places where they feel that their life has no meaning, or that they are a burden to others. 

Human Life is Valued

Although we are people of all faiths and none, we are united in our belief that human life is good and valuable. Our societies should treat human life as a good in itself, something every human being has as an inherent right, which no one can take away from them under any circumstances. Others have an obligation to take active action to preserve the lives of others, even when external conditions are unfavorable. Because human life is a good in itself, for every human being, we all have an obligation to protect others’ possession of it. 

Goal: Maintain a commitment to using nonviolent means to accomplish the goals above, and specifically through 1) education, 2) serving as a forum for discourse, and 3) engaging in public action 

Our fourth goal regards our means to achieve our desired goals (discussed above). We are deliberately committed to nonviolent activism in our means, because we don’t believe that violent revolution, or violent coercion, can result in peace. Our three chosen nonviolent means primarily include education, discourse, and action. 

Our commitment to nonviolent conflict resolution is intrinsically related to our opposition to capital punishment, police brutality, and war. Violence is generally seen in our society as the only method to obtain peace. We don’t agree. Violence leads to more violence, and killing leads to more killing.


We were founded as a print and online publication, and education remains a key component of our work. We both educate the general public about our areas of interest, as well as equipping those who agree with us to understand reasons for opposition to violence.


We are also a forum for discourse. We both engage in debate with those who don’t agree with us, and encourage discussion among those who partially agree but disagree on some substantive issues on or on means. 


Our last principle is action. Nonviolence is an active practice, not a passive theoretical position. We encounter the public through protests, public lectures, sidewalk advocacy, and demonstrations outside sites where violence is justified or commonly takes place. By promoting our beliefs in public, we demonstrate that support for human life can be consistent, contra those who deny that that is possible. 

Why these specific means? 

It is true that there are a number of goals we hold which will require other means than education, discourse, and public action (for example, changes to the law require political action.) There are reasons we remain committed to these primary means rather than expanding our work into other areas. 


We were founded as a publication and our educational mission remains important to us. We focus on the connections between issues rather than operating as a single-issue group; single-issue groups are better able to achieve political ends, but often can lose sight of other equally important issues. We believe that other groups, by specializing, can achieve their goals by focusing narrowly on whatever means are important to them (for example, legal aid clinics, or direct service groups). We strive to work in partnership with people across sectarian lines/political lines. Finally, we strongly believe in grassroots activism rather than a top-down approach. Though legal changes are necessary to protect human life, and we do work with many groups who are working to change the laws, legal change unsupported by the public will not last. So we have focused our work on working with people one-on-one.


Disclaimer: The views presented in the Rehumanize Blog do not necessarily represent the views of all members, contributors, or donors. We exist to present a forum for discussion within the Consistent Life Ethic, to promote discourse and present an opportunity for peer review and dialogue.

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