Death is all around us. Eleven older adults shot recently in Pittsburgh while they worshipped at Tree of Life Synagogue on the Jewish Sabbath. Twelve mostly young adults were shot and killed at a bar where they often gathered in community. Twenty five or more were incinerated this week in fast moving explosive fires in California. Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Cancer, Heart attack. We look for ways to protect ourselves and those we care about, but in most cases, there is little we can do in the face of evil and violence and the power of God's creation.
Could we stop those moving toward death if we could change how we value human life? The current leading cause of death in the United States is abortion--almost one million per year. At root, Abortion happens most often (93%) for convenience or simply because the unborn child is devalued and considered to be a non-person, inconvenient, or not worthy of life for some reason. Another cause of death we rarely talk about is suicide in its various forms including physician assisted suicide also called aid in dying or Physician Assisted Suicide. In 2016 the CDC reported 17.6% of deaths for Americans ages 10-24 were caused by suicide. We hear much about gun control as a way to stop mass deaths by gun violence, but in 2016 there were 22,938 suicide deaths from guns and compared to 14,415 homicide deaths involving guns. Maybe it is time to evaluate how our high value on 'choice' and personal 'autonomy' are affecting our thinking about the value of our own lives as well as the lives of others.