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Thou Shalt Not Kill

Call me old fashioned, but I don’t think that people should kill each other. Especially on purpose. I’m not particularly versed on the ten commandments, (I know there’s some stuff about not coveting wives or mules that’s offensive and outdated), but I think that Thou Shalt Not Kill is a good one that perhaps needs a bit of a revival.

Death is an unavoidable and inevitable part of life. We are all temporary organisms. Even if all goes well and we escape cancer, accidents, heart disease and natural disasters, we are all eventually going to die.

But that is no reason to take someone else’s life for granted. We each have hopes, dreams, ambitions and desires. The things we want to accomplish in our lifetimes are vast and diverse, but I’m pretty sure that getting murdered isn’t on anyone’s bucket list.

Where does all of this violence come from? Does it all boil down to fear? Hate? Self-worth? Connection?

I don’t know, but I care. I really do. I really would like to understand the mechanism that allows one human being to disconnect so completely from others that they are able to take their lives and feel justified.

We humans are definitely good at justification. It seems there isn’t anything that can’t be explained away if we find just the right measure of defensiveness and blame.

The current president of the Philippines’s war on drugs has seen more than 12 000 deaths in the last four years, around 9 000 died in the Mexican drug wars last year and nearly 500 people in the US are dead of gun violence this year (and it’s only the second week of January!)

Who were these people? Were their lives as precious as yours? As mine? Did they leave behind grieving parents? Lost children?

The cost of violence is so high. It costs in lives, but it also costs in fear. Fear separates us, it divides and conquers. So much of what is unjust in the world is fueled by a steady diet of fear and distrust.

If we can draw a clear enough line between us and them somehow we convince ourselves that that will keep us safe. The illusion of the enemy is out there and we are safe with our own kind.

Except, what does that mean? How do you choose your own kind? What kind are you?

I know for me, if I were to let myself crawl into that mentality, it would mean queer people. I don’t think I’m heterophobic, but I feel a certain safety when I’m in a group of LGBTQ+ people.

Maybe this is part of being a marginalized group, or maybe it’s just part of being human, but I can understand that feeling of commonality and community that draws people to whom they believe are their own kind. On the other hand, I can’t imagine shutting everyone else out.

Most of my closest friends and much of my family is straight. I can’t see myself joining a gay power or a queer supremacy group, I can’t imagine feeling such a sense of connection to one characteristic of being human that it obliterated every other part of the equation.

I understand that I’m a pack animal, but I also know that I can live beyond that condition. I can choose to love, accept and grow beyond the lines that fear and distrust draw for me in the sand. I can choose to understand that humankind is my kind (even if sometimes my cats are easier to understand).

Maybe there’s more that we can do for each other rather than simply agreeing not to kill each other. Perhaps, rather than just refraining from commiting murder, we could also take steps to preventing violence by building stronger connections. The world is no longer a village and so many kids are falling through the cracks in the walls that we’ve built around ourselves.

Kids need adults. They need role models and mentors, they need people to guide them, love them and shield them from the world. If we could each reach out into the lives of those around us and share a connection, if we could model building bridges instead of bridging walls maybe Thou Shalt Not Kill will come back into popularity. Might be worth a try.

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