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We’ve all heard, seen, or read the new: A gunman opened fire right at the Empire State Building. Not only did the gunman kill his intended victim, but decided to “go out in a blaze of glory” by shooting innocent bystanders, most likely with the hopes of committing suicide-by-police. It’s become too common a tale hasn’t it?

Of course, this is going to spur the usual arguments over gun control, and security, etc. Not that I’m trying to downplay the importance of those two topics, because gun control and security are by and large two things that are on many peoples’ minds. So no, it isn’t my intention to minimize these topics, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about today.

What I want to dig my heels into on this day is the importance of life. How is it that with the history we have at our disposal to read and study, that every generation seems to spawn people who seem to have a total disregard and disrespect for life. Human life to me is at the highest level of the totem pole, but don’t think for a minute that I don’t regard animal life important as well.

Generally speaking, much of our human sustenance and well-being can be directly attributable to animals. And let’s not forget our beloved domesticated pets – dogs & cats – these little guys help bring so much to our quality of life, it sometimes goes beyond what words can describe.

Today, though, I’m focusing on human life – even though there are some of you who feel that some people are less deserving than animals. Nonetheless, human life is something that should never be taken for granted – the same as life in general – but I focus on human life because if you believe, even in the smallest degree that we were created in God’s image, then there’s something to be said about the sanctity of human life.

This is why I don’t believe in abortion for convenience. If a woman is victimized by rape or incest, however, she ought to have the right to not remain in a pregnancy that wasn’t caused by her own actions or acts of irresponsibility. I still struggle with any “pregnancy termination” as it is sometimes scientifically referred to, but I certainly understand that if a woman has been already so heinously traumatized, why should she have to go through any further trauma? It’s the callous disregard for human life that truly bothers me. Whether it’s a couple who’ve discovered they’re pregnant, and the baby “doesn’t fit with their plans,” or a gunman who shoots people in a public place at random, these are all acts against humanity.

I always believed in “an eye-for-an-eye and a-tooth-for-a-tooth.” So, as a younger man, I was a staunch supporter of the death penalty. I can’t honestly say that’s where I am any longer. It’s still a human life – no matter how wretched the individual, and what horrendous crime was committed, I believe the death penalty lets them off the hook to a great extent. They’re going to die anyway – eventually. People like this who are imprisoned for the rest of their lives don’t ever know joy or happiness. Sure, prisons aren’t necessarily as hard as they used to be, but they’re still no cakewalk.

My belief that human life – in fact all life – should be respected is shared by many, but in differing levels of application. While some agree that respecting human life is tantamount to loving God, some of these individuals would think nothing of killing animals for sport.

But, I digress… what is driving so many people to lose respect for others’ lives? It’s when they lose respect for their own. If someone feels they have lost everything and they have no hope, and nothing at all to live for, then something in their psyche snaps and they just lose it. What are the tell-tale signs of someone who is susceptible to this type of aberrant conduct? No one, apparently, seems to know. Usually, most of the individuals in recent memory weren’t the kind of person that anyone thought capable of committing such a crime.

So, where do we go from here? Treat each other with as much respect as possible. In the past when I’ve lost a job – as the NYC gunman did – the people who did the “termination” were courteous and respectful and truly sorry to see me go. I don’t think that’s how it went down with Mr. Johnson, the NYC gunman. I’m not saying that if someone deserves to get fired that they shouldn’t, or if you’re going to break up with someone that is unhealthy for you that you don’t. What I’m saying is that there is always a better way to handle any given situation. It’s not always easy to deal with so many other personalities. It’s been said that inside every head is a completely different world – and world view.

The major difference between our modern society and the past is that we seem to be so wrapped up in our own little worlds, that we seldom take time to take notice of others’ suffering or problems. Sure, we’re generous when there’s a great earthquake or a disaster that’s all over the news, but what about someone in our very own back yard? How about our neighbors, co-workers, and family/friends that typically form the fabric of our daily lives in one way or another. We need to stop being so disconnected from each other in our quest to have “the better life.” We need to stop being so busy, and pay attention to life again. Not just the limited scope of life that we’ve become accustomed to – but all life.

Thank you for reading – Ed Martinez, Regular Guy.