When we are driving down the street and a small animal darts out in front of us, our instinct is to hit the brakes. Without thinking we instantly do everything possible to avoid killing the animal. It is a natural response to avoid harming a living creature. We don’t stop to think, we don’t rationalize and we don’t second guess…we just slam on the brakes because our brains are hardwired to avoid killing if at all possible. If some thing or some one is not a clear threat to us we do not feel compelled to take its life. Our initial response is always to save life, to prevent death.

In order for us to willingly take a human life we have to learn to kill. In many cases we are even taught who to kill. Early in life we are indoctrinated as to who are enemies might be. They are usually people who seem different from us. They have different political views or religious beliefs, their skin is a different color and they have different cultures, so we believe it is permissible to kill them if we feel the need. This type of thinking is completely wrong and has directly led to most of the misery that exists in the world today. Taking a human life is never the answer. It serves no purpose and solves nothing. It only creates more hate and distrust.

Countries spend billions of dollars training hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the art of killing. Entire national budgets are based on how much can be spent on their military. Making sure that you have the overwhelming capacity to kill your perceived enemies is the paramount consideration of virtually all developed countries. If even a small portion of those funds were reallocated to humanitarian causes the world would change overnight. We have the financial means available to end extreme poverty right now; however, we continue to waste unimaginable amounts of money creating more proficient ways to kill. Each day we decide that we would rather spend our resources increasing our ability to take life rather than to save life.

But there is another way we kill that is even more insidious, and that is through neglect. Taking life this way comes far easier to us because we don’t have to actually pull the trigger ourselves. The dying occurs out of our sight so we don’t have to witness the horrific reality of death. It happens on other continents, and even though we share the responsibility for letting it take place, the distance prevents us from feeling too much guilt…but we are guilty…because neglect kills just as surely as a gun or a bomb.

We would never line up 25,000 children each day and execute them, but we are more than willing to let them die from our neglect, as long as we don’t have to witness it. We have to ask ourselves which is worse: putting a gun to a child’s head and pulling the trigger or turning away and letting them starve to death. They’re just as dead either way, and in both cases we could have saved their life. Our natural instinct prevents us from even considering killing an innocent child in such a violent and senseless way. We find the very thought of it to be abhorrent, and yet we lead contented lives as 25,000 children die every day from hunger, treatable illnesses and preventable diseases.

The fact that more than nine million helpless children die each year doesn’t seem to bother us at all. We are more than happy to let these deaths occur while we shop at the mall, go to the spa, play a round of golf or enjoy a nice meal at an expensive restaurant. After all, these children are dying on the other side of the world. They are someone else’s problem. How could you be responsible for them? Why should you feel guilty? Even though thousands of children died needlessly today you are quite certain you had no part in it. All you did was play golf and have a quiet dinner at your favorite restaurant. Where is the crime in that? You work hard, you’ve earned your money, and you deserve to relax and enjoy life. Does it make you a criminal because you have been successful to the point where you can live in comfort?

However, because the money you spent at the restaurant could have kept a child from starving to death, it presents a moral dilemma. You chose to spend your money on yourself when you could have spent it on someone else. Should you feel regret? Do you really have any obligation to help keep children alive half a world away? Are you actually killing by neglect?

When the victim is out of sight and you can’t hear their cries for help, it is incredibly easy to let them die. But what if you had to eat the expensive meal in front of a starving child? What if you sat in climate controlled comfort and ate every bite while the emaciated child watched you through a window as he struggled to sit up in stifling heat, covered in flies and begging in a ravaged voice for scraps. Could you enjoy your meal without a care in the world? Could you look into the eyes of the desperate child as you finished off your 500 calorie dessert? Would you feel remorse as you took your last sip of coffee and watched the child’s head drop as he took his final breath? It would be far more difficult to let 25,000 children die each day if we had to watch it happen. It is unlikely we would continue to behave in such a thoughtless and self-centered way if the dying children were right in front of us.

Whether we kill by force or by neglect, it is death all the same. Although we have to learn to kill violently, it seems to require no effort at all for us to kill through apathy and selfishness. There is no other explanation for why we let millions upon millions of people die every year from extreme poverty. It is a sad fact that we, as a species, are willing to kill our own as long as we don’t have to actually witness the murders. Until we acknowledge that it is unacceptable for innocent men, women and particularly children to die slow agonizing deaths while we enjoy the highest standard of living the world has ever seen, the killing will not stop.








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