One Like Myself

It should be natural to look in the eyes of a loved one and see one like myself.

 

Provided this gaze is authentic love, it permits a moral awareness of the dignity, the inviolability of the other.

 

Slavery, existing throughout human history, has been/is possible due to the human capacity to stop seeing the other as myself. The Europeans saw the Africans as a “sub-race”, as non-human, which permitted them to enslave the latter without losing their feeling of rectitude. In response, the Civil Rights Movement made repeatedly one principal claim: we are equal in dignity.

 

Once equality is truly achieved, no honest person can continue such horrible violence towards his brother or sister.

 

The degradation of human beings is seen worldwide: the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, the attempted eradication of the Tutsi by the Hutu in Rwanda, the enslavement of millions of children in, as is done in India or various countries in Africa, or the use of child soldiers, as was seen during the Sierra Leone Civil War. Today, Islamic extremists, whether from Isis, Boko Haram, or various other groups, spread a wave of death, hatred, and enslavement across the middle east and other inspired acts of violence spanning several continents.

 

What shocks is that human beings are capable of doing such things to other human beings. All made possible by a lack of empathy, compassion, and love.

 

Sadly, we are not free from this very dehumanization.

 

Abortion is the ultimate act of dehumanizing another person.

 

The duration of a life lasts from its beginning until its end, from conception to natural death. To stop that process from continuing at any point is to end a life. Thus, to stop the beating heart of a eighty year old man is no different than to stop the beating heart of a baby in the womb.

 

A life has been ended.

 

Ending a life arbitrarily is an act of murder.

 

Today a baby in the womb, who doesn’t have the qualities that we recognise as being fully human, can be killed, not only without repercussion, but even with financial aid from the government.

 

Abortion is only viable if we continue to say that a developing child is not human.

 

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Consider if we replaced a “foetus” with a one hour old child. Would any of the Pro-choice arguments make any sense at all?

Does a woman have the right to end her one hour old child’s life because she gave birth to that child, and it’s her body? Even if that child causes her stress and financial problems? Should a one hour old child be killed because they came from the unfortunate circumstances of a rape? Should a one hour old child be euthanised because they were born into poverty? If a woman harms herself in trying to end the life of her one hour old child, should we create programs to do it for her?

 

The conclusion of these questions evoke disgust, who could possibly support them?

 

Yet the only difference between a baby who is still a foetus and a one hour old child is whether or not we attribute humanity to them.

 

Apparently, the foetus is too undeveloped to be human.

 

Apparently, the foetus doesn’t have enough sensation or intellectual processing to be human.

 

Today we look back at slavery and are astonished at how it was possible for one person to look at another and ignore completely their humanity and, as a result, treat them with brutality and indifference.

 

I pray for the day when we will be human enough to look back and say, “How could we have murdered our own children?”

 

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The Splendor of the Stars

 

Eight years ago in a orange Australian desert I had the blessed opportunity of seeing the night sky with no light pollution for hundreds of miles in every direction. In chorus with all those who have shared this experience, there is nothing quite like it. The sheer immensity and glory which flutters down from countless spots of light. The little dots are so thick in some spaces so as to seem like a dazzling blanket covering an enormous space, sometimes thicker, sometimes thinner, containing an incredible variety of colours. Words will never do justice…

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It is so often described how this experience makes a person feel small. I shall endeavour to take exactly the opposite route.

 

Consider this quote: “For what will it profit someone, if they gain the whole world and forfeit their life?”

 

What is implied by this quotation?

 

The word life here implies what is eternal, for, sorry to say it, no one gets out of this life alive. A synonymous word, in that case, would be soul, our life that is eternal. Thus, the meaning implicitly is that one human soul is more valuable than all known existence.

 

It means that all the stars, the heavens, the galaxies that surround us are lesser in value than the soul of one person.

 

What then should a person feel when they gaze up at the unfathomable sky?

 

They should feel big! not small.

 

For all that exists, in its glory and its beauty, is still less than that of the soul. Thus, by gazing at those brilliant stars, I should realise that within me, what is me, is even more vast, grand, and profound.

 

Just like the stars, this grandeur demands a response simply by its very magnitude. When I gaze into the sky on a dark night, I cannot help but be blown away, to stand back and admire. This is exactly the same response that should be natural when we gaze upon our friends, our brothers and sisters, our parents, even the strangers who pass by uneventfully on the bus or the train.

 

The fact is, however, that is not our natural reaction. For we do not see the soul first, but the wounds, the needs, the depressions, and anxieties.

 

If the eyes are to see clearly they need the right filter, the right prescription.

 

It is in the silence, in the chasms of my own soul where shines the gems the most brilliant because they are not adorned by myself. It is what is greater than us, from which comes our universe in all its beauty, that furnishes such beauty.

 

It is there, but it is only found in silence.

 

Just as the distraction of telephone, work, internet, and the all the rest can prevent us from ever venturing out into the dark places where the stars can actually be seen, so too the adventure inwards can only be achieved through silence.

 

Every time I make the time to leave the city, to shut off my phone, and to embrace the adventure of unplugging, I am always grateful that I did it. So it is with prayer, with meditation with the journey inward that is worth so much more than a night under the stars.
Why not start today, and search out the bright lights within?
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