I had to admit, it was a good question. I was sitting in my new house with my new roomies, and we were sharing our first dinner. The conversation had shifted quickly to weighty things, of which I was glad.
Her question made me think about courage and the ability to break past the fear of success, but, it also made me wonder, who has died so that I can live? My mind went immediately to Jesus. Not that I am Christian, but if you are a person living in the US, it is pounded into your head that a large segment of the world believes that Jesus died to save sinners.
But I think they got that wrong.
In the last year or so I have had the opportunity to witness footage of humans treating each other deplorably. Usually centered on race, The videos I and millions of other internet users have watched illustrate what has always been true, humans are absolutely brutal to each other. I have watched grown men and women die for doing nothing more than trying to live their lives the best they could, and every time I see or hear of such an event, I am heartbroken all over again. The more I see these attrocities occur, the more I am becoming aware, that in a very real sense, these people are dying for me. I believe in this way, they are Christ-like.
In almost every experience, good or bad, I have found a lesson. The bible is much the same way; it is a series of stories written to teach moral awareness and human compassion. But in the end, I think that Christians and humanity got the story of Jesus wrong. Jesus did not die to save sinners. Jesus died to save us from sinning.
In case you have not read the New Testament, I will break it down into the most simplistic terms. Jesus was born to a virgin, and eventually became a preacher. He healed people, helped the needy, then a whole bunch of people killed him because they saw him as a threat. Which, if you read the bible, you can see very clearly that he is not. As I said, simplistic. If you want the bigger picture, go read Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Evidently, John is up for debate. They all tell slightly different versions of the life of Jesus. Oh, also, be warned that the language in them is a bit thick. You will need time and access to definitions of what certain words and phrases mean in the biblical sense.
This dude, Jesus, much like the folks getting killed all over the country, was no threat, but the people who killed him feared him. And now it seems certain people believe that you can go around killing people and call yourself a Christian, because you can go to church and be forgiven, or, because your religion in one way or another justifies it. Because Jesus died to save you. But Jesus did not die to save you, Jesus died to warn you. Jesus is depicted as a good man. He was killed in a brutal fashion. Not to absolve you, but to illustrate in detail the dangers of succumbing to fear and hatred.
Do not kill. Again, it is pretty simple. Humans, all human life, is sacred. The fear you feel for your brothers and sisters, (for we are all connected) is actually the fear of the pain you hold within you. It is fear of self. It is the anger of suppression and resentment. It is the embodiment of the pain you have felt at your own hand and the hands of others.
There is no reason or justification available to look down upon or mistreat anyone, including yourself. It does not matter if your religion justifies it. It does not matter if your company, your government, or your parents model this behavior. You are no better, and you are no worse. This is the only absolute I know.
I write and talk a lot about self-love. I believe fully that if we can get there, violence in the world will end, no one who truly loves herself could hurt another. No one who is kind and compassionate around the flaws and frailties within would ever exploit those qualities in another. No one who feels safe would ever make another feel threatened.
This mirror effect relates to everything in life. The person who is disgusted by another person's genitals is most likely ashamed of their own. The person who blames homosexuals for ruining the sanctity of marriage feels horrible about his role in his own broken marriage. The person who believes that immigrants are taking away her ability to make a living is ashamed at her own inability to do so and frustrated over the lack of control she has in that situation.
Again, it is quite simple. The anger and hatred you feel for another starts with you. It starts with the love you have for yourself. It starts with the compassion, the kindness and the sweetness with which you approach your flaws.
I do believe these people have died to wake us up and stand for an end to violence, hatred, and exploitation. They have died so that we may live.
For what is a life if it is not the experience of love, compassion and collaboration? What is a life, if you idly stand by and watch as your brothers and sisters kill one another?
What is a life? And what are you living for?