I am not a Christian. But I will admit that if I could force myself to believe, I would be. And even though I am not a Christian, I think that there is some wisdom in Christ’s words that I try to apply to my life even though I don’t believe in God or an afterlife or things like that. Primarily, I try to be kind and forgiving. I try to be helpful to others. I try to live my life motivated by love rather than fear.
It is hardest to do this with strangers. I mean, it is easy to be generous with people one knows. This is true because even though the odds of getting hurt by someone one knows are greater than the odds of being hurt by a stranger, pretty much everyone believes they are good judge of character and it would never happen to them. So helping a stranger usually has a perceived risk at any rate.
Sometime back, a man knocked at my door. He seemed mentally ill and I figured he probably was one of those homeless mentally ill who end up in places like Ypsilanti. He asked to use my bathroom and there was desperation in his voice as he stood there on my porch asking for something pretty basic. I mean, we all have to use the bathroom after all. But I live alone and it was night. I just couldn’t bring myself to let the guy into my home even though I know that is exactly the kind of loving thing that would make me a good person. I turned him away and that has haunted me on some level ever since then. Mostly because I like to think that I am the type of person who would do the right thing even when doing so puts me at risk of something dangerous or unpleasant and this episode kind of proves to me that I’ll put self-preservation above whatever moral code I have. And granted, if I were faced with the same decision again, I think I would behave in exactly the same way except I might give the guy some money so he could walk the two blocks over to the McDonalds and use their bathroom as a paying customer (a solution to my moral dilemma that I didn’t think of until later) I think of stories from the Bible like "The Good Samaritan" and I realize just how difficult it can be to apply even the most basic moral standards of helpfulness when confronted with the unknown.
I have been thinking of this because of some recent events near my home. Some sicko has been killing dogs and leaving their mutilated carcasses by the side of the road. At first it was a couple of dozen wild canines (coyotes and foxes), but this person has moved up to domestic dogs which are probably people’s pets. There is so much here that just screams serial killer to me; the way the carcasses are left out in a way designed to attract the most attention; the way this person seems to be taunting with law enforcement; the cruel manner in which the animals are killed. All if it is filling me with fear and suspicion. I realize that fear is often what holds me back from living the life of kindness and generosity that I would like to live.
Oh well, I suppose it wouldn’t be such a moral accomplishment if it were easy.
Link to AA News Story of Dog Killings