Whose Lives Matter?
The Kobe Bryant tragedy stunned our country and flooded the news. Bryant was one of the greatest basketball players of all time—beloved by his peers, adored by his daughters, mourned by the masses, admired by the fans . . . except when he singlehandedly beat the Mavericks!
But what of other deaths—tragic or sudden—that daily go unnoticed by all but a few family and friends?
Over the years, I’ve mourned the deaths of dedicated servants, faithful teachers, caring nurses, tireless humanitarians, loving parents, and many gifted, considerate individuals whose deaths don’t register a blip on any screen. Their only public mention is the obituary page of the funeral home website.
Who decides whose lives matter? Just because they couldn’t throw a 100-mile-an-hour fastball, or sink a 50-foot-putt, or make a 30-foot-jumper, or hit a receiver in full stride from 50 yards, are they less important? Just because they didn’t win an Oscar or an Emmy or a Tony or a Grammy or an ESPY, does that mean their greater—though humbler— contributions weren’t noteworthy?
These questions sound ridiculous, of course. We all know who is a celebrity and who isn’t. But what we don’t all agree on is “whose lives matter”.
Given an inordinate number of shootings of unarmed black young men, citizens tried to cry out for awareness and for justice by saying, “Black Lives Matter”. Some special interest groups immediately countered by proclaiming, “All Lives Matter”, implying that race makes no difference, when, unfortunately, it does.
So, is it true that “all lives matter”? The answer seems obvious, until we encounter the way the world works. For example, it is estimated in the raging fires of Australia that a billion animals were killed. Sympathy and outrage resulted for wallabies, kangaroos, and koala bears—truly beloved creatures. In the same time frame, however, a billion other animals were slaughtered in factory farms—cows, chickens, pigs—and practically no one cared. Clearly, some lives matter more than others.
The animal kingdom is different, some may say; and, in fact, it is. But who decides that a koala is cuter than a cow … and how? That differential in worth is glaring when it comes to the battlefield. When our country decided to spontaneously pull out of Syria, we left our allies, the Kurds, at the mercy of Turkey, Syria, and Russia—ancient enemies. That betrayal didn’t seem to matter, even though 12,000 to 15,000 Kurdish lives were lost fighting for us against ISIS. In that war’s same arena, we suffered 500-600 casualties—a terrible loss to be honored and mourned … but were not the Kurdish lives, who did our dirty work in exponential numbers, of equal value?
Unites States’ lives matter, of course. They are ours—our soldiers, our patriots, our family. But when lives are to be lost, we prefer to push someone else to the front lines. They engage in the direct risk of combat … while we use drones.
Is it because we have forgotten that all lives matter to God? God is the giver of life. All life has its source in God who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If we are to follow this life-loving God, we must assert that each and every life is a treasure and a gift that matters.
When Jesus looked down from the cross, he, no doubt, saw cows and kangaroos, Kurds and Kobe Bryant. And, leave no doubt, he saw you. In that act of humble, dedicated, faithful, caring, loving service—that didn’t even make the evening news—he died for them all … in equal measure. His life didn’t matter one whit to the Empire of Rome, but it mattered to the heavenly Father … because, through the cross, they all matter to God. Jesus’ death makes every life of infinite value and importance. Jesus life makes all lives matter … and to think that Jesus never hit a 30-foot-jump-shot.
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