Revere Life

10 03 2017


Throughout history, our religions have admonished against killing. The Ten Commandments, with “thou shalt not kill” directs those of Judeo-Christian backgrounds. The First Buddhist precept is “avoid killing or harming living beings.” The Qur’an prohibits “taking any human being’s life – that God willed to be sacred – other than in [in the pursuit of] justice.” Even the Hippocratic Oath of doctors includes, “first, do no harm, primum non nocere.”

But in fact each of us kills daily.

Mark's pie 07.14.15.jpg.jpgWe eat. Whether it be plant or animal, that which we eat has been alive and has died in the process of nourishing us. Thus: the Native American tradition of silently thanking a deer before taking aim and releasing the arrow.

We move. We step on small organisms we can’t even see or don’t notice. We drive and birds fly into our windshield or squirrels dash under our tires. We remove insects and spiders, mice and squirrels from inside our homes, most of us by killing them directly. We poison our lawns so only grass can grow. We treat noxious plants with weed-killer to enjoy our yard settings. We euthanize our pets when they become too old or infirmed to live a quality life.

In essence, it is virtually impossible not to kill.

However, it is always possible to revere life, to recognize its importance, its value and meaning. We can consciously name what has died to nourish us. We can mindfully select our actions, aware of our impact on others.

labyrinth-walk-solstice-2012-002We can choose to acknowledge the source of our food, all the connections that have made it possible for us to eat: the sun, water, and earth; the harvester, transporter, and distributor; the truck manufacturer, mechanic, fuel supplier, and so on.

If we decide to have a pet, we can select our dog or cat from a no-kill shelter instead of supporting the puppy mills. We can converse (aloud or internally) with the plants we consider weeds and clarify where we would like them to grow, as we remove them from areas that do not match our plans.

Keeping an open perspective allows us to continually search for ways to be more respectful and appreciative of life around us. If we are thoughtful, at the end of the day, we can say that we have revered life today.