What is a life worth?
More than two decades ago when my kids were young, the answer to that question hit me. Here's a little background:
I have never given birth to a child. My son and daughter came to me three days after my husband and I got married. Akira had just turned 9. Victor was 3. Within the first few weeks of my being a mom, among other things, I was taking them to the doctor, just like any new mother who was worried that something wasn't right. Even though my kids were not newborns, they were to me.
One afternoon we were walking down the street in front of our house and Victor let go of my hand and ran out into the street. I didn't take any time to think about anything other than Victor was going to get hit by a car. I didn't look both ways; I simply ran out into the street after him. There was a car coming, but I was able to grab him out of its path.
At that moment, I knew that the lives of my kids were the most important thing in my life, even more important than my own life.
Our country has lost many lives since it became an independent nation, yet since April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School, we have been watching, minute by minute, violence and death play out at public places we once thought were safe havens.
For most of my life, I intensely recall gang shootings in Chicago where innocent victims became a statistic in neighborhood terrorism. Countless victims of domestic violence don't appear in the news. They remain nameless data. Children and animals are savagely beaten and slaughtered by their parents, guardians and owners. Millions leave their homes fearing for their lives, seeking some corner of the world where they have a bit of security and a glimmer of hope.
All of this brutality is connected. It comes from hatred of a people different from what we know. It comes from loss of hope and no way out of day-to-day life. It comes from sickness left unnoticed and untreated. It comes from greed and egocentrism. It pays no attention to the worth of a human life.
Throughout human history, people have been brutal, mean, greedy and selfish. At the same time, people have been kind and caring. We haven't changed over the centuries with wanting to care for our family.
Since the creation of the atomic bomb, we have created formidable weapons and effectively efficient ways of snuffing out human life. Because of these historically recent "advances," individuals have profited financially. If "improved" and greater numbers of weapons of all kind bring profit, it looks like profit trumps life.
You can talk about the Second Amendment to the Constitution and self-protection and hunting and the government is coming for your weapons until Boulder City turns purple, but the bottom line is someone's profit and highly effective use of that profit to spread a distorted message outmaneuvers the worth of human life.
I'm honestly sick and tired of people not talking about the value of human life. We don't talk about solutions in an open and honest way. We're killing the planet and profiteers want to deny, deny, deny. Let's continue yelling and screaming at each other. Let's continue repeating lies until they sound so good that many accept them as fact. Let's sue everyone we can. Let's continue to deny responsibility for our actions and blame the teachers, the government, politicians, certain religious groups, the immigrants, the unions, the media, the criminals, the drug addicts, alcoholics, the homeless and the do-gooders.
Let's take responsibility and start at home. You cannot control everyone and every action around you, but you can be the master of your heart and mind to a significant degree.
Examine how you feel about the value of human life. Analyze both sides of an issue and everything in between. Turn off the TV and talk to your kids. Talk to people who hold beliefs that conflict with yours. Talk to those with whom you think you disagree.
Shout less. Listen often. Think more.
Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-347-9924.