Sunday, January 23, 2011

Raising Cain

“And Cain said to Abel his brother: Let us go forth abroad. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and slew him.” ( Genesis 4: 8 )

That was the world’s first homicide. Incredibly, we are still killing. Witness the violence in the world continuing with the massacre in Tucson, Arizona. In fact, just since the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, there have been one million murders in America that are not about to stop any time soon. Worse, we live in an age of instant communication that makes the stories of violence seem so pervasive.

Is it any wonder then, that murder and mayhem are becoming part of our everyday lives and the news of the day? What is wrong with us? We need to be the best, first, on ‘ top of the heap’. Anyone who gets in our way is run over, sometimes literally. Ours is fanatically competitive a nation of “We’re Number One!” which seems to have replaced our motto “In God We Trust ”. Whatever happened to the Commandment to love one another? While we do display an outpouring of emotion when someone is tragically killed, it is after someone is taken from us. Too much, too late.

The adversarial atmosphere in our politics is being blamed for this latest episode of violence in Arizona. That’s simplistic. In my view, the divisive behavior in politics is a form not the cause of violence. Some take the lives of people with guns, others injure the reputations of people with words. While guns are too easily accessible, that young man would have found another way to kill.

We live in a country whose moral fabric is so frayed it is almost unrecognizable. We think nothing of killing embryos, fetuses, convicted felons because, unbelievably, we have made all of it legal. We have become like the ancient Romans who gave a thumbs up or thumbs down to a life in the balance. If we loved one another, we would never have allowed any killing. But we do because we can and, in each of those mentioned examples, it benefits us. We need the miracle drug, don’t want the baby and/or seek revenge for the crime.

There is corruption in business, sports and, I'm sad to say, in religion, as well. Turn on the television and get assaulted by greed and immorality in commercials and programming. A day doesn't go by without another blockbuster story, such as pyramid schemes in the stock market or the use of steroids in baseball. As a Catholic, I am enormously embarrassed by the sex abuse scandal in the priesthood.

As hopelessly na├»ve as it may sound, until and unless we tone down our words, put down our weapons and ‘get down’ with love, we will continue to "go forth abroad " with our “brother” to slay him.

Unlike Cain who was jealous of Abel, we must realize that we are our brother’s keeper.