A week ago today, an old friend of mine was shot and killed. I heard his name on the radio news just before I had planned on going to sleep. It's funny how you can hear various statistics and strange names on the news every day and you grow numb to it, but when you hear of somebody familiar it strikes you with a sudden and harsh reality, the reality that everything can change within a short moment in time. The people and things that we value the most could be a gone in an instant. Life is very precious indeed, and it distresses me that so many youths are out on the streets wielding guns and knives with the intention to rob people of the most precious thing that they have. The most troubling thing of all is that weapons and the fools behind them have gone beyond the streets and warzones and into homes, public areas, and schools. Everyday people could have their last day by receiving a gunshot wound to the head, such as my friend, having nothing to do with any kind of those wicked behaviors. The road of life sure has its twists and turns.
During this week I had to grapple with a series of thoughts and emotions. For instance, how do you confront the family of a friend who was the innocent victim of random and senseless violence? How do you even confront the notion of the whole event? Something that I had gone over and over in my mind was the fact that we need to appreciate and value our lives. First, we must value our own. This could mean different things for different people... but for myself, I know I wish to refrain from negative and destructive things. Everything I do should be worthwhile, it should be upful. And in knowing and loving myself it allows me to fully appreciate others, which brings me to the next step forward, putting a value on other peoples' lives. Everyone has a right to live free and to live happily. Each person on this earth shares a common journey, just like you and me, but their journey is unique and it is their own. We must love one another and respect one another. This does not always mean agreeing with somebody, or aiding and abetting their faults... but it means to accept and respect their human dignity. Who is man to play God? How can we who do not create life, take it? The two greatest commandments given to humanity were to love JAH, and to love one another. It is time to follow these basic instructions and stay far from hatred and violence.
The sad and unfortunate passing of my friend also led me to think of how much time we sometimes waste on petty fussing and fighting. People can hold grudges and bad feelings against others for a lifetime and then try to make peace when it is convenient or when the end approaches. Yet, life doesn't always take a predictable course. What happens when the end is swift and unexpected? What happens to the intentions, the words, and the actions that are left in limbo? Family members and friends should be appreciated in all ways possible. Don't put off until tomorrow what could be done today. Tomorrow is not promised, so we must do our best to live positively and peacefully with each other.
I think of my friend during this time. I think of his family, particularly his wife and his children. I see their grief and their pain. I see the ruins of the confused and misguided youth who killed my friend. I pray for all. I understand the suffering now behind each name on the eleven o'clock news or in the morning paper... and I wish so many more would see what I see also. Mankind, put away the guns, put away the knives. These things were designed only to maim and kill. Leave all the foolishness behind... learn, listen, love, and live. Life is precious, and everyone is entitled to live life to the fullest. It starts with us, but may it never end with us.