Less Than Human
Sometimes watching television leaves me feeling very angry. I’m not an angry person by nature anymore, so it always grabs my attention when I start to feel that way. A few days back I was a television show called “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” on Animal planet. It’s a great show, but it tends to be very dramatic so I can really only deal with one episode at a time.
In the particular episode that made me angry there was a situation where a family was stuck in the Arizona desert. Their car had broken down in the middle of the desert and they didn’t have food and water. The man decided that the greatest chance for the family’s survival would be for him to leave the others to try and get help. After a number of hours the woman with her two young daughters started following after him, worried that they would be dead by the time that he found help.
It was a very serious situation. Both groups were extremely dehydrated and beaten by the sun. This is to be expected based on the premise of the show. What happened next was not expected. On the second night the woman and her daughters were walking down the road, trying to make as much progress as possible while the sun was down. Then they heard the sound of a truck and saw the headlights coming towards them in the distance. I’m watching thinking thank God, somebody to help these poor people. The lady stands in the middle of the road to flag the car down, it slows for a second and then swerves around her and drives past for about 25 yards. Then it hits the breaks and does a U-turn to face the woman and her children and starts revving the engine.
That’s the point when she realizes that this person is not going help them. It’s one of the human traffickers (let me repeat, HUMAN TRAFFICKER) that uses the desert for some of their dirty work. Luckily the woman still has a shotgun strapped over her shoulder (they were intending to do some skeet shooting in the desert). As the truck starts driving forward she tells the children to run and aims the shotgun at the truck. The trafficker decides it isn’t worth the risk and turns back around and drives into the distance.
That’s horrible enough by itself, but then there’s the story of what happened to the man. This man has been walking in the desert heat, alone and without water for 2 days. Finally, near the verge of collapse he spots a truck driving towards him down the road. Once again you feel great for him. Finally salvation! Not so fast. The truck stops beside him and he stumbles up to passenger side window. His body is literally breaking down at this point. He can barely think, and so his words come out mumbled and garbled. The men in the truck mistake him for an illegal alien lost in the desert. The man in the passenger seat takes his canteen, pours water into his own mouth and then spits it on the dying man. They are both laughing as they are driving away.
That was two different situations where people were in a position to help someone in desperate need and chose not to. One hoped that he could run down the mother and kill her in cold blood to abduct the children and sell them into slavery. The other two let their own hatred and prejudices speak for them and mocked the man in need before leaving him to die. Why? Because they thought he was a different race.
When did people start to think this way? When did people begin to believe that helpless children were not to be protected but exploited? When did people begin to believe that the determining factor in whether or not you should live or die is the name of the place that you were born? What kind of sickness is this? After the story was over the lady who almost lost her youngest daughter to kidney failure pointed out that while they were trapped in the desert no animals bothered them. They were never threatened by the numerous snakes, coyotes or other animals around. The only thing that threated them was human.
That’s when I realized the underlying truth behind the situation. When we don’t treat our fellow man with dignity and respect, when we don’t treat them humanely, then we lose our own humanity. Eventually people like this are left with no humanity at all. They aren’t even as honorable as the animals who would fight in defense or hunger. No, they choose to take these heinous actions for no reason greater than the desire for money or to sate a diseased inferiority complex.
The behavior itself is worth my anger. The thought that we have a generation of children who will be subjected to this diseased state of humanity in the world today nauseates me. What can we do? How can we fix things?
It will be a long and slow process, but it starts with a personal commitment to choose love over hate. Can we fix this systematically? We can if we choose as a community to live with the principles that are taught in the Bible. However, the first battle is our internal struggles with our own personal demons, our base nature. How do you feel when someone disagrees with you or makes you look bad? How do you behave when someone cuts you off in traffic? How do you determine who you will help and who you will ignore?
We were made to love each other and be good to each other. In today’s world we are the cause of our own problems. To correct this we must do what we were made to do. We must love each other. That’s a start. If the number of people who love naturally and freely increases then it will impact and influence those who are lost. It will also shine a light of attention on those who are evil because their negative thoughts and actions will stand out like red blood on a white sheet.
The first step of our journey towards a better future is paved with love. Today, on Valentine’s Day, I hope that you will choose to take the first step and let go of the things in your heart that prevent you from loving others.