Recently, I had a wonderful opportunity to visit with my soul on the issue of life and liberty. In the midst of all the political rhetoric on this subject, I decided to look inward, attempting to figure out my own stance on this issue.
I have to ask two questions to be truthful to myself, and to find the answer. The first question is, “when does life begin?” The second is, “is life sacred?” These are two simple questions; there are no simple answers.
Sometimes, I think I am a Jain, a religious group of people who do not believe in killing anything. Jains will do everything possible to prevent hurting any being. They won’t walk in fields where there are insects, to prevent the possibility of stepping on them. They see life as sacred in all its forms, which is where I think I am supposed to be in my Christian faith.
Now the question I have to ask myself in that regard is this, “If life is sacred, is there a lesser life that I am free to trample, based on measurable intelligence or other qualities in the various forms of life?” These are philosophical questions, for which we won’t be able to ascertain a pure answer. Because, as was in the vision of Peter, in the Acts of Apostles, we will find conflict within the idea the vision presents: “Eat all that the Lord God has placed in front of you” conjures up a gamut of ideologies and principles. You know, as well as I, that this directive could include, the eating of meat and vegetables on the lowest level of theological interpretation to whatever other things we need to be thinking of on diversity and differences which contain life on the highest level of Theology. Therefore, even though life in all its forms is sacred, I came to the conclusion that, with respect, I may use some of that life to sustain my own life and those I care about if taken with Theological literalism and to the care of all of God’s creation when applied with the highest form of scriptural understanding. Regardless, I must use it for sustenance of life only if I do, not for anything more; nor for anything less.
That is when I realized that life, in all its forms, is meant for sustaining life, and not for sustaining politics, religion, theology, nor any other kind of philosophy. Life is sacred, whether it grows into an ameba, a titan boa (the pre-historic monster snake, 48 feet in length), a man awaiting execution in the jail cells of Arkansas, a child in the jungles of the Amazon, an undocumented immigrant on Main Street in Russellville, a conservative senator in Washington, the liberal governor, Linda Lingle, of Hawaii, the straight couple who dances on Valentine’s Day, or the gay couple who sings “Blessed Assurance” in the church choir.
It is from this awareness of life, I believe, that true liberty comes. It is from this knowledge of the profundity of life, that we can respect anything and everything on earth, including the people we don’t understand, and those with whom we disagree. If my individual freedom does not stop at the threshold of another person’s dignity, then I don’t have freedom of will to begin with. What I have is the irrational instinct of an animal that is only worried about its own survival. Such are not fit for a developed society, even though they may be seated as presidents, governors, politicians, judges, mayors, and, certainly, pastors and priests.
It is to these people the Lord took up his whips in the temple. Jesus was not a “sit-in-occupy-wall-street” guy. He just lashed out at those who failed to respect life and relationship, and those who traded human life with the phylacteries of theology, politics, and religion.
I have no choice but to accept life as being sacred in all its forms, starting with the least among us, and moving to the greatest among us. Now it is my choice to determine which lives I respect, and the reasons for my accepting or rejecting them. The manner in which I exercise my freedom of choice will speak louder to the world about me than any verbal statement I might make. It will also determine which kind of whip I deserve.