Spirituality for Today – January 2016 – Volume 20, Issue 6

Perspective on Life

Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A photo of a baby's hand

Once again this year, our nation's capital will host the March for Life. Respect Life Ministries throughout all of the dioceses of our country will convene as a multitude, a throng, a mass of people devoted to making concern for life in all of its stages a concern for our elected officials as well as for the rest of the nation. Although this annual event concentrates on the tragedy of abortion, its expanded reference is to life from conception to death. This march – made by human beings – affirms the worth of each human being.

In the history of mankind, there have arisen in nations those leaders who devalued the worth of others for the advancement of their own self-centered aims. Among the most chilling words one human being can utter regarding another are that he is not "worthy of life." Amazingly, instances of such statements and the horrific deeds spawned by them have stained the fabric of human relations far too often. The fiery cry to rise up and murder can be ignited by many a cause: a twisted philosophy, a distortion of religious dogma, a bizarre definition of national honor, or simply, coveting another nation's natural resources. Once an individual or a people are defined as "something in the way" of individual or national aims, the reduction of one's conscience to a cold, unfeeling, relentless beast grinding all before it can emerge.

Whenever atrocities find their way into the nightly news, we often wonder how it is that an allegedly civilized world community can treat each other in such a barbaric manner. Perhaps, being a civilized humanity is more the ideal than the reality. Maybe, there is a thin patina of civilized behavior covering the savage that is man. As the Old Testament assures us, we are quick to shed blood. Hatred and indifference has always found a ready home in the human psyche. The survival instinct accounts for some of the proclivity towards violence, but there is a bloodlust that is answerable to some other force for evil lurking within us.

I insist that there is nothing but prejudice in this case;
that if it was reversed and eleven white men had shot
and killed a black while protecting their home and their
lives against a mob of blacks, nobody would have dreamed
of having them indicted…Now that is the case, gentlemen,
take the hatred away and you have nothing left.

Clarence Darrow, Closing argument in defence of Henry Sweet, May 11, 1926, Source: Speeches that Changed the World, Simon Sebag Montefiore.

The Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the virtues are still known, but have been placed somewhere in a misty realm that seldom sees the sun. Human decency is a subject that touches everyone's life and is expected from people in their relations with each other. Why the ambiguity within people regarding the active presence of all of these gifts to humankind is beyond reason. If we take seriously the fact that we are children of God and loved by that God, how can we not respond in a way far more loving and caring than we do? Perhaps, we have to realize that it is much easier to react than to respond, to act emotionally than to act responsibly, and to be self-serving than to be considerate. Our fallen nature seems to be more easily seen than our saved soul.

Have you had a kindness shown?
Pass it on;
'Twas not given for thee alone,
Pass it on;
Let it travel down the years,
Let it wipe another's tears,
Till in Heaven the dee appears –
Pass it on.

Henry Burton

The answer to the troubles of life existing in every stage of our existence is elusive, mercurial, and even transcendent. All we can do as we try to put our perspective on life at its most noble expression is to pray for God's influence on the person we are and to do our best to make visible the light of the love of God upon our daily living.