When I consider the events going on in our world today, it is easy for me to judge and segregate between the people I like and those I don’t. Up to now, this has been an unconscious reflex, but now I am aware of it and I cannot accept this trait enhances the greater good I am trying to create. This is because I judge some lives more valuable than others. If I truly believe we are all made in God’s image and likeness, then I must accept that every life comes from the same source. This can only lead to one conclusion; every life matters.
Take a personal inventory
It is easy for me to identify the “winners” of my personal inventory. I can perceive the value in LeBron James and Rafael Nadal. I can validate the greatness of Eric Clapton, or Adele. My “valuable life” inventory grows when I add members of my family, like my children and grandchildren. My parents and brothers also come to mind. So do my old bosses, teachers, spiritual and political leaders and so on. It is easy to accept the value of the lives of those we like, but not at all the ones of those we disdain.
To illustrate the point, the following list is of those whose value society disregards or holds in harsh judgment. They can elicit from some an inordinate amount of hatred, disdain, disgust and even violence.
1) A pedophile priest
2) A convicted mass murderer on death row
3) An opioid addict
4) A meth and cocaine user
5) A Columbian drug lord
6) A Syrian refugee
7) An illegal Mexican immigrant
8) A panhandling homeless person holding a sign at a busy traffic corner
9) A prostitute
10) A slumlord
11) A transgender individual
12) A gay couple
13) A radical Muslim terrorist
14) A white supremacist
15) Kim Jong-un
16) Donald Trump
17) Joe Biden
18) Nancy Pelosi
19) Mitch McConnell
20) A rich CEO
21) A welfare recipient
22) A child molester
23) A welfare mom
24) A black or Latino man/woman
25) A rapist
26) OJ Simpson
27) A corrupt police officer
28) An abortion doctor
29) A member of ISIS
30) A wife beater
30) A crooked businessman
31) A government worker
I could go on with more, but I don’t think it is necessary to make this point.
A greater purpose
Every person has a list of those we value and those we don’t. We root how we see people on the principles and beliefs our environment, experiences and teachers taught us.
Our path to our true self lies in redefining how we view the lives of those we don’t value. This is tough. Sometimes, it is near impossible to do. For example, how does a woman find value in the life of someone who violently raped her?
Recognizing the worth of another human’s life does NOT mean you must accept or forgive the wrong they did. However, relying on hatred, revenge, jealousy, disdain or violence to handle the situation does not serve your greater good. Neither is convincing yourself that the evil done to you by someone else can be somehow justified, it cannot. What is important is that we have faith on the fact that together we all serve a much greater purpose, although we may not be able to comprehend it, than how we are individually affected.
The inherent value in someone else’s life comes from the lesson they can teach us. Many lessons can inspire us positively. A homeless person or a Syrian refugee can engender in us the gifts of compassion, mercy and generosity. Someone with different beliefs, whether political or religious, can teach us about acceptance, inclusion and open-mindedness.
Other lessons can teach us how not to be. A white supremacist can teach us about the senselessness and destruction that accompany hatred and prejudice. Abusers and rapists can help unite us to stand against those who want to defile others with their hatred, sense of entitlement and violence. A terrorist can show to the rest of us that violence solves nothing and can only generate more useless violence.
Imagine a world that values every human being. Would we continue to see war as an answer? Would we turn our back on the poor and downtrodden? Would we seek profits over greater service or lives? Would we neglect our environment? Would we deny anyone’s right to live, work and be happy? Would we revere those who advocate hate and violence? I think not.
You may not be powerful enough to change the terrible things you see in the world, but you can make a difference by valuing and honoring every person around you.
Remember, paying gratitude for your life forward will reward you with dominant spirits of joy and contentment.
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash