Summary: Since God has purposes for every person, all life must be prized and protected.
On Saturday four weeks ago, I had just started our grill when I saw a long line of cars backed up on the street behind our house. I heard some shouting and saw some people running so I became curious (OK, I was being a nosy neighbor). I should mention I was wearing a white t-shirt, sweatpants, and my old lawn mowing shoes. When I hurried down the street, I saw two women on their hands and knees heading into some bushes on the side of a neighbor’s house.
I ran over and asked how I could help. They were a bit hesitant to trust me at first because of the way I was dressed, and I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet. I discovered they were searching for some baby ducklings. Apparently “mom the mallard” and her 10 ducklings were crossing the road when a car hit the mother. Two of the ducklings lost their lives, while the others scattered, leaving the mother hopping around and looking dazed. Seeing an opportunity to be a good neighbor, I offered to hold an Aldi refrigerator bag while the women scooped up the distressed ducklings and put them inside.
These women were locked into their task. After finding a duckling they’d lean forward, motion for everyone to be quiet, and listen for more chirping. One woman, hearing a duckling in distress, ran into another backyard and found a dog had cornered one. She rescued him from the canine while a neighbor boy collected another one.
Just when I thought we had found all of them, one woman stopped traffic again and ran across the busy street because she thought she heard some more chirping. We all followed. I was skeptical, but sure enough, after about five minutes she emerged from the woods with two more. Now, I had eight chirping ducklings in my bag.
At this point, one of them called the police for help while the three of them tried to catch and rescue the dazed mommy duck. They caught her by throwing a big blanket over her. Then, they handed her and the ducklings to Officer Friendly, pleading with him to find an animal shelter. I could tell he didn’t really want to do this, but they were quite persuasive in their pleas to save these little lives.
I’ll never forget how determined these women were to save this momma and her eight ducklings. With tears in their eyes, they expressed sorrow for the ones who lost their lives while rescuing Darla, Dean, Della, Daphne, Daniel, Dottie, Doug, and Donald Duck (OK, I gave them names because I may or may not have become a bit attached to them).
While I was on duckling duty that day, it struck me how we should be running to save human lives, because every boy and girl, man, and woman, matters to God.
This is important because we live in a culture of death. The news of murders and shootings fill our headlines daily. Sadly, as of early May, there have been 194 mass shootings in the U.S. this year, which averages out to 10 a week. In the first three months of the year, murders are up 18% relative to the same period last year.
This is also a problem in our own community, not just something which happens elsewhere. Here are some front-page headlines from the Dispatch-Argus this week:
• Sunday: “One dies in Rock Island shooting. Illinois Q-C has had 2 homicides in 24-hour period.”
• Tuesday: “Man charged with killing teen.” Another headline said, “Murder charge filed in shooting death of Silvis man.”
• Wednesday: “Group looks at violent crime. Officers [in Davenport] responded to 279 reports of gunfire in 2020, an all-time high.”
Have you noticed murder has become a central source of entertainment in our society? According to Philip Ryken, “By the time the average child finishes elementary school, he or she has watched 8,000 televised murders and 100,000 acts of on-screen violence.” Video games are so life-like that those playing them get the sensation they are actually killing someone.
On Tuesday night in Florida, a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl opened fire on Sherriff’s deputies. The girl is reported to have said, “I’m gonna roll this down like GTA,” referring to the video game, “Grand Theft Auto.” The boy, at 4 feet, 11 inches tall and weighing 78 pounds, told detectives he wanted to harm cops.
Apparently, a computer game developer has made a Columbine game containing actual footage inside the school, including the crime scene. Those who play the game can make decisions about who to murder and who will live.
When we come to the Sixth Commandment, we lament the loss of life around us while at the same time most of us breathe a sigh of relief because we don’t think this prohibition applies to us. Listen to Exodus 20:13: “You shall not murder.” Very few of us are murderers, right? We’ll see about that.