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Toward a spirit of common humanity

Melvin B. Miller
Toward a spirit of  common humanity
(Photo: Dan Drew)

Not long ago, concern for human life would indicate one’s involvement in the debate over the right to an abortion. However, since the massacres in Paris and San Bernardino that are attributed to ISIS, the issue has become personal safety. Americans are coming to realize that over the years, they have devoted too little interest to the preservation of the lives of their fellow citizens.

Until the recent acts of terrorism, white middle-class Americans had no general anxiety about their personal security. In the affluent suburbs, the police were always present “to serve and protect.” Secure whites had little awareness that their black fellow citizens across America did not feel safer because of the presence of the police. In fact, the police were often viewed as oppressive storm troopers. According to The Washington Post, an average of one unarmed black man is killed by the police every nine days.

Neither do black women feel any safer because of their gender. The recent conviction of former police officer Daniel Holtzclaw of Oklahoma City on 18 of 36 counts of rape has shed a spotlight on the victimization of women, many of whom are black. An investigation by the Associated Press found that from 2009 to 2014, 550 police officers from 41 states had lost their licenses as law enforcement officers because of sexual assault violations.

The incessant effort to succeed and get ahead seems to have induced many Americans to lose sight of the sanctity of human life. Too often, other individuals are seen merely as allies and confederates or are simply irrelevant. This cavalier attitude to the welfare of others creates an ambience of hostility and violence that can be disturbing to almost everyone. The holiday season is a perfect time to consider how those aware that they are blessed with the gift of life must treat their fellow human beings.

Unfortunately, the violence and economic insecurity of life in America often disrupt lucid reflection on the exalted aspect of human nature. Those committed to the Judeo-Christian tradition must acknowledge that all human beings have been blessed with divine aspects to their nature. Genesis states “So God created man in His own image…” (Genesis 1:27).

Without getting into a debate about creation theory, this means at least, if it has any meaning at all, that human beings have the capacity to attain some of the wisdom and powers considered to be divine. Some of those persons considered to have made great progress on the path of spiritual attainment often are respected and elevated to the level of sainthood.

One need not be committed to any religious doctrine to understand the wisdom of the season’s greeting: “Peace on earth, goodwill to men.” It is in everyone’s best interest to keep this aphorism in mind during everyday activities. A sustained conscious effort will produce the desired results in one’s life. Concern for our fellow humans should not end with the Christmas season.