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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Life is cheap

I've read a lot of novels. I am very poor at remembering author's names, titles of books, and names of major characters. At the same time, I've seldom ever been able to read a book twice because I remember everything about what happened in it. If I go to a movie based on a novel I've read, I can immediately spot places where the novel varied from the movie script. Sometimes I start watching a movie on Netflix or cable that I don't recognize the title of or the description (logline), but within the first two minutes think, "Oh, I've seen this. He's getting together with the local island girl and leaving the bitchy society chick behind," or some such. Happened to me twice last night. Never did watch a whole movie.

What's that have to do about life being cheap? Well, for the most part, we get our values challenged or validated by the novels we read and the movies we see. I know that is a big generalization, but I'm ready to claim it as 60% valid. Enough to establish theories about. The movie I watched the most of last night was "Clash of the Titans." Sank pretty low, right? Somewhere in the vicinity of 100 bodies. Sure, it was a period piece. That's what life was like in ancient Greece. Life was cheap. A few days ago I went to see Tron Legacy 3D. More good taste in movies. Lots of bodies, not piling up, but disintegrating because they were only computer programs. But life was cheap. I watched "The Book of Eli" and let me tell you the bodies piled up. Life was cheap. I read a book by Erich von Lustbader--enough said. Then I read Dan Brown's latest and the bodycount kept piling up. In my own novels, I even killed off my best hero. Why? Because life is cheap.

And then my daughter came to me yesterday and said, "Did you know a Representative was shot in Arizona?" I read the stories as the details were revealed through the day. What I saw was a society in which life is cheap. And I wonder, why do we care about health care, vaccinations, AIDS, a war in Afghanistan, saving the world's children? As much as we want to whitewash our attitudes with charitable giving and medical research, good education and a kind and gentle world, when you scratch the surface, we still consider life cheap. We see ourselves living in a wild west movie where the hero (us) will gun down all the low lifes in the name of creating a saner, safer world. We will "spend" the lives of 5,000 soldiers in the Middle East because our enemy has no qualms about spending thousands of their own. Because life is cheap. We will still frequent the resorts and towns of our southern neighbors, no matter how many of their headless bodies are found just outside. Because life is cheap.

Amid all this we posture about the value of life, our care and concern for others, when what we mean is that we care about ourselves. Life is cheap, except our own. All that calamity that falls on others is because they deserved it, unlike us.

Tell me why a 9-year-old girl in Arizona deserved to be shot in the chest by yet another political crusader who considers life cheap. Six people died with more critically wounded and not out of danger yet. Will it reverse our plunge into divisive rhetoric that translates to real violence, or will we take vengeance and slide further into being heroic crusaders with a sword, gun, or bomb strapped to our chests because life is cheap?

Will we ever wake up to realize that there is no cause, no political system, no government, no religion, no social structure, no wealth that is worth killing for? If we do, we may finally have evolved into human beings.
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I have had much the same thought. Thanks for putting it into words so well!!