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home : opinion : opinion/editorial May 24, 2016

7/30/2014 1:27:00 PM
Room for a View: What is a Life?
By Charles Wilkinson


Tragic. Horrifying. Beyond acceptance.

What happened to Malaysian Flight 17 (even without the why’s) cries out to every human being about the cruelties of fate and the fragility of life in the madness of today’s world.

Two hundred ninety-eight lives lost in an instant of insanity. (Isn’t that what every war is?)  People in mid-sentence, or laughing, dosing, doing whatever to fill time; men, women, children (too, too many), researchers, vacationers, doers and dreamers blasted to death at 30,000 feet, their bodies strewn across miles of angry earth below.

Lives with all levels of meaning gone in an instant, changing forever the lives of so many others left behind; 298 lives were lost but thousands more wounded, numb and disbelieving.

One would think the countless stories of lives being lost by war, car bombings. drive-by shootings, workplace rages, etc. would inure anyone to such a tragedy.

Violent death is all around us and life seems as disposable as fast-food wrappers. But what happened on the borders of Ukraine and Russia rips through the very heart of humanity.

What is a life after all? Any answer has to begin by looking at one’s own. Given its fragility, every life is precious, no matter its origin or meaning. How anyone can think of ending another’s life while sensing the heartbeat of their own is beyond imagining, at least for this writer.

From its very first pulse,

its very first breath

a life is a work of wonder

and dreams;

a gift of whatever God

said, "Let there be..."

with a challenge to become

whatever a will can fashion.

Every life belongs to self and fate,

connected to every other life,

before and after,

deserving fullness of time

and love.

Short of that is tragedy
–and incomprehensible loss.

When and how will this world ever discover that the tragedy that happened in the skies over Ukraine and Russia tore into all of humanity as well and that the loss it left is forever a part of each of us?

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