Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Sanctity of Human Life

It normally takes at least 9 months to cultivate human life through processes peripherally explained by science. Inherent in the process, are deep mysteries that manifest in various ways and continue to leave human kind with more questions. In this whole drama of cultivating life, especially human life, several still ask “when does life truly begin?”
When I was little, I used to trundle items over ants neatly lined up in procession looking for food. It excited me to tie plastic bags over a stick and set it on fire and watch plastic fire balls drop on ants and termites like bombs with whistling sounds. I did these a lot. There are other examples that include insects, trees, and so on. Well, I was a child.  
As a grown up, there are certain things about life that fascinates me. You have to cut down a part of a tree for it to become useful to you. You have to kill an animal before it can give you meat. A seed is plucked from a tree and planted to rot before it brings forth life. The best example for those that believe, is that Jesus Christ had to die on the cross to open the door of eternal life for us. Judgement is coming!
Life is interesting to reflect on. For me, life as we know it, is the middle stage of our entire scale of existence from an abstract point of nothingness to eventual eternal uncertainty. The middle stage of any process is a significant one. It can decide how well the process ends and the quality of the produce. For us, the middle stage of this scale is the only part we can influence through our actions because we have the capacity to reason and make choices. Incidentally, our middle stage is the shortest part of the entire scale of existence.
Looking back at what I did to several ants and termites, I feel bad, and I should have had more respect for them. At least, I should not have killed them for fun. Respect has a lot to do with the amount of importance we attach to tangible or intangible things that may or may not be useful to us. How much respect do you have for nature? Nature is God’s creation. The usefulness of an item to us determines the level respect we have for it. Think about human relations like family and acquaintances or a rich friend versus a poor one. The point is, we should have respect for all items we encounter in life whether they are useful to us or not. To every one of us, all life forms fit into a scale with extreme values of “useful or not useful.” The beggar you pass every morning on your way to work may not be as useful to you as the security guard you pass by into your office. Now, what makes you a high quality human is being able to respect both the beggar and the security guard equally, as people who have life just as yourself. Even though the quality of life may be different for us all, whatever keeps us alive is the same. Now, let us make this broader. All living things, from the single-celled organism to the behemoths in the oceans, have life, and thus are alive. They all deserve our respect including those we kill for food.
How much respect do we have for other forms of life? How much respect do we have for our own kind? I look at the world today and I don’t see a lot of positive answers to these questions. Many of us are wasting our middle stage of existence on frivolities and in pursuit of vanities. The worst part is, we are going about our exhibition with utter disrespect for our own kind. According to media reports, about sixty persons own more wealth than half of the world’s population. Most of us won’t live above 100 years and you are almost useless to yourself at 80. Whatever titles you acquire in life will follow you nowhere. The truth is that anyone who embezzles huge amounts of funds or acquires illicit wealth from business malpractices is not different from a terrorist who blows up a plane. Our actions of neglecting the very poor among us is no different from the holocaust. If we agree that every human life is important, then we should respect and care for each other more with less regard for conditions of usefulness. There are several videos on the internet today about how people responded differently to the needs of people who pretended to be destitute and others who pretended to be affluent. Does this really typify us?
In north central Nigeria today, something incomprehensible is going on. Thousands have been killed because nomadic herdsmen tread through farming communities, and react violently to farmers’ agitations. The sheer scale of the horrific massacre of men, women, children and babies reminds me of the genocide that occurred in Rwanda some years ago. You have to become inhuman to be able to stare at some of the pictures. In order to stem the menace, some states have boldly enacted anti-open grazing laws with commitments to support willing herdsmen to ranch cattle. However, this may have moved this horrifying reality to neighbouring states that have no such laws. Though all life forms deserve respect, I fail to see the parity between human life and cattle, which is used as justification by nomadic herdsmen to perpetrate massacres against the inhabitants of the immensely fertile and resource rich north-central Nigeria. Surely, the motive is deeper. Similar horrors have been perpetrated by terrorist organisations in north-eastern Nigeria and other parts of the world.
I fear deeply that, as I tore through colonies of ants and termites with terror, and treated other life forms with disrespect as a child, humans may have overtime extended these kinds of actions to our own kind. Human life has become meaningless to so many people. The trend of killings without respect for human life is really disturbing. As savages, it was excusable. But with the current level of civilisation, it is unacceptable. All life forms are important, but human life has sanctity attached to it. We all must keep writing, talking, and acting, to keep the sanctity of human life. If not, many may lose appetite for beef.