Progressive Writers Bloc

Every Life is Sacred

By Merrily Davies

Referring to the total number of Iraqis we have killed Colin Powell responded in a briefing last spring, "That is a number in which I have no interest." There have been independent estimates, but the government keeps no official record. Yet, the lives of these people are enormously important, because we share their humanity.

Followers of Christianity, Islam and Judaism are known as "the people of the book" for their common reverence for the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. All three religions trace their origin back to the patriarch Abraham. The Bible in Genesis tells us that after God created the heavens and earth, grass, herb yielding seed, fruit trees, living creatures, and human beings, "God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good." And so we recognize the goodness and common humanity of all people, including the people of Iraq.

As many as 15,000 Iraqis were killed in the first days of America's invasion and occupation of Iraq, approximately 30% of those being civilian noncombatants. Counting the time since the war "officially" ended on April 9, there have been between 8000 and 10,000 civilian deaths.

How did these people die? Reading down the explosion, rocket propelled grenade, gunfire, gunfire, gunfire, car bomb, ammunition truck explosion, gunfire, roadside bomb, grenade mortars, and on and on.

And who were these people?.....they were civilians passing in vehicles during a bomb attack on a convoy, a deputy mayor, demonstrating ex-soldiers, a journalist, a policeman, 3 children, women, a senior doctor, and so on.

The following is an account of some of the deaths, "...a local man, possibly a former Ba'ath party official started shooting a handgun. The British then opened fire, `It was about 10:15 AM and the market was very crowded' said Mr. Younis. 'I threw myself on the ground and shouted to everybody to run away or get down. The shooting lasted for about 5 minutes but there were bullets going everywhere. They were firing on automatic'. At least 17 people were hit. They included a 13 year old girl caught by a ricochet in the shoulder and a nine year old boy. Several other casualties have spinal injuries and multiple fractures. In all 5 men died from their wounds."

Every individual is precious. Every life is sacred. Every life lost violently and tragically affects the family circle it was once a part of. Every individual will have brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, wives and husbands who will love them and mourn their loss for a long time to come.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned the Biblical account of creation. If you are of a more scientific bent, perhaps you will appreciate the astronomer, the late Carl Sagan's interpretation. That is, "We are the embodiment of a cosmos grown to self awareness. We are star stuff, pondering the stars." So, either we are the sons and daughters of God, or we are the offspring of the cosmos and the stars. Either way, we, all human beings, inherit an incredible pedigree. We owe it not only to ourselves and other human beings to live and let live, but also to the rest of Earth's children, the plants and animals. But, in a larger sense, we also owe it to that God or that universe, immense, ancient and eternal in which we live and move and have our being.

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