On my way to get coffee last Sunday I saw a bunny stuck between two traffic lanes. I could tell he was in trouble so I pulled over to help. Walking toward him I could tell he was scared as he hunkered down but couldn’t move. I guessed that a car had already struck him and bones were broken. I went for my phone to call animal control. In the instant I turned away, another car struck him and he was gone.
That weighed on my mind all day.
As my heart hurt a some for that little animal, my thoughts widened to the five Dallas police officers killed the previous week, then to the cop gunned down in a St. Louis suburb and the other cops targeted around the country. I wondered how many people would die in gang violence that weekend, in Oakland, Los Angeles, Detroit and all the other American cities. Someone, somewhere was probably dying as I was pondering.
Lives do matter. All of them. Sentient or not.
Someone said that we are all the right side of an equal sign. For me, that means that we are, at any moment, the sum of the knowledge, thoughts, experiences, relationships with others and more. And we change as new things appear on the left side of our equal signs. We evolve, and hopefully improve.
I cannot tell you how many lives appear on the left side of my equal sign but it is a large number, each shaping me as if a sculpture. Some have left bold lines in my clay, adding new and important definition to who I am becoming. Others imprinting marks so faint as to be almost invisible, with the details lost from both our memories. Writ large, it’s generally a two-way street. Someone on the left of my equal sign likely has me on the left of theirs. Symbiotic. Building lives with the tools of simple arithmetic.
The same is true for all of those who have died on the wrong side of a knife or gun. Who they were was formed by family, friends and strangers within their orbit. Their deaths leave more than just holes in the hearts of those who cared for them. It precludes any chance for new entries on the left side of so many equal signs.
So, lives matter. But which ones? The country was consumed with caring for those killed at the Pulse club in Orlando so it seems that gay and Hispanic lives matter. As more cops are killed on the country’s streets there are more blue stripes on black backgrounds on everything from shirts and stickers to flags and electronic signs along the road. So, cops’ (and by extension, all first responders’) lives matter. When a TV reporter and her camera operator were killed during a live shot, journalists’ lives mattered. Last year’s terrorist attack in San Bernardino brought out that people needing social services and county government employees’ lives matter. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2015/12/a-shooter-in-san-bernardino/418497/
Extrapolate that out to attacks and tragedies worldwide and it is apparent that all lives actually do matter. Most of us treasure all lives. It is part of the fundamental human goodness with which we were all born.
Unbeknownst to most Americans, parts of Chicago have turned into free-fire zones of gang violence. That same Sunday, five people were killed in 33 separate shooting incidents that day. Unless you’ve been following the long succession of reports like this you’re unaware that thus far this year in Chicago, 2218 people have been shot. 330 of those were killed. Did those lives matter? Of course they did.
There have been no protests anywhere demanding an end to the gangland slayings. At least none that got national attention. Is it just a local problem in Illinois? No. It happens less frequently in other cities, but because we’re unaware of their deaths did their lives not matter? Certainly not. We’re suffering heart problems everywhere and too many die because of it.
Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans:
“You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Romans 13:9 (NKJV)
This is why cops and others, the innocent and the guilty are being killed across America and the world. We don’t love our neighbor as ourselves.
It is lost on so many that loving our neighbors as much, and in the same way that we love ourselves is a key scriptural teaching, and critical if harmony is to grow in our communities. Hearts are open to so few. Society is selfish, almost in the extreme. It wants only what it wants. In some cases, it will only tolerate what it wants, and those who want something else are told that they are wrong or evil and must step in line.
Love does not kill. There’s actually a lot more that love doesn’t do in I Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails.
But we are failing, failing each other and ourselves. By claiming that some lives matter less or more than others, we do not love each other like ourselves. Whether you believe in God or not, we must. Our love must make others more comfortable even if it makes us less so. We must be sorry for things we have not done that hurt others. Sorry for their pain and willing to share the burden of it. It’s not easy, but valuable works seldom are. We must do the hard things, especially now.
Last Sunday, scores of people around the world were murdered by other human beings, and I saw an injured bunny, first alive, then dead. For an instant, that bunny’s life mattered to me and then when it was gone, it didn’t anymore. Surely if a bunny’s life could matter to me, don’t all people’s lives matter?