Everywhere we turn, there are signs of human life being increasingly disrespected.
We act shocked at gruesome images of beheadings by the death cult known as The Islamic State, with their unholy combination of the worst traits seen in al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Khmer Rouge, and the Nazis. Its soldiers have systematically rounded up groups of “unbelievers” — which can mean anybody who disagrees with their fanaticism — and slaughtered them in a manner Heinrich Himmler would have applauded. Addicted to bloodshed, they have targeted for total extermination entire categories of people.
Yet, why should we be so shocked? I walk out of my office in New Orleans to the sound of five gunshots down the block and see a man sitting motionless in his car, after another drug deal gone sour.
Later, I hear of another person shot dead just because he was walking through the neighborhood, and still another murdered because someone did not like the music emanating from the victim’s booming sound system.
A mother of two is hit by an out of control vehicle and left for dead on the street. The driver flees the scene without calling for help. It’s unfathomable to think somebody would leave a human being lying there without any care. The victim was rushed to the hospital with two broken legs and severe head trauma, only to die a few hours later.
Then, I read about a gang of teens descending upon a homeless man and beating him to death, “just for the fun of it.”
And, over this past weekend in New Orleans, there were five murders and 11 wounded by gunshot, which is less than the recent killing spree over a long weekend in Chicago, with at least 14 murdered and 58 wounded.
Against such a backdrop, I also follow erudite but, frankly, vacuous discourses among seemingly intelligent people arguing in favor of routine abortion, assisted suicide and “death coaching.”
Add into this mix disturbing reports of high-risk thrill seeking gone wrong, and deliberate, willful, habitual behaviors known by evidenced-based research definitely to harm the body, and you wonder if our society is becoming another death cult.
It is utterly unacceptable when people are abused mentally, physically or tyrannically. Any view of humans as mere objects constitutes abuse and profanation of life.
If God is still granting a person breath and life, there is still value in that life, from conception to the grave and everything in between.
This includes the toothless old woman in the clutches of advanced Alzheimer’s, just hanging on while not knowing where or who she is.
It includes someone with severe disabilities, the baby born with multiple birth defects, the young adult who is autistic, or folks who cannot care for themselves.
You will be reminded of this when you’re about to go under anesthesia for emergency heart surgery, or when you look into the eyes of your granddaughter and remember how close she came to not surviving birth, or when your wife looks up into your eyes from the hospital bed and says: “I don’t think I’m going to make it.”
And you might still be able to smell the cookies and Kool-Aid as you recall the faint strains of a song sung by kids in the church basement during Vacation Bible School: “…they are precious in His sight.”