While driving to work, I saw this bumper sticker and it had me thinking of its implications instantly.
On the surface, this makes sense. After all, there is a Biblical Commandment that says “Thou Shall Not Kill.” I don’t think there would be any argument this wouldn’t be a Christian sentiment. I also don’t think that most people would have a problem with the idea that society should have structure in place to provide security and predictability to those living within it. However, I think that this falls into the same trap as the Wiccan Rede of ‘Harm None.’ There is the literal interpretation versus the following-the-spirit-of-the-law interpretation.
Life is, of course, sacred. We, as mortals, have made many advances since our arrival as a species…..the wheel, fire, sliced bread, The Internet, coffee, etc…… However, we are still not capable of generating life outside of the process that we inherited. Every time we create life, we are invoking a power or force outside of ourselves…even if we don’t acknowledge it. We, as mortals, have also figure out that we can take life. It can be done in science labs, barrooms, alleys, hospital beds, during surgery, in the act of war, and even in a fit of depression. Having this power gives us some pretty big choices. We have the freedom to make those choices, but there is responsibility in taking those actions. Consequences beyond legal ones.
The decisions we make aren’t always easy to make as there aren’t always obvious choices. It might be easy to keep the “Harm None”/”Thou Shall Not Kill” theme until presented with a tough choice. What if your country calls you to serve in the military which is directly involved in killing an enemy? What if you serve in a support position? Are you any less responsible for the killing? Does supporting the troops back home make you an accessory to killing? If you are protesting the war, does it make you less patriotic or more Christian? Do you become violent to make your point? What about contesting abortion? Do you kill to protect the life of fetuses? Is life just as sacred when you talk about a hardened criminal who commits acts of violence beyond comprehension? Does it become a choice when we see a loved one in a vegetative state or with a terminal disease which becomes progressively worse? What if someone dies in an car accident where you are one of the drivers? Does intent have a bearing here? Is a karmic lesson to be learned?
It is because these choices are not clear-cut that holding an extreme line doesn’t really work. The ALL or NOTHING of both of these concepts, like any ultimatum, is likely to give you an answer that you may not feel is right. After all, you are pre-selecting one of what you’re predefining as only two possible choices. You might be able to take comfort in not taking life, but that doesn’t automatically reestablish emotional equilibrium in all circumstances. Choosing your destination before you either have all the information or choose not to process it all means you aren’t going to end up in the right place. Life is not any less sacred by looking at the gradation of this argument. It means we have to work harder than to attempt to apply one of two choices on a self-imposed scale.
If you are looking for life answers, you have to turn to your faith. Exploring your relationship with the divine force will give you the answers you are looking for. Once you find them, you will also discover that your religious beliefs can’t always fit on a bumper sticker.