Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 17, 2004
All Life is Sacred
Rebecca Pinto, a student at St. Francis Xavier High School in Edmonton, is this year's winner of the Alberta-Northwest Territories Respect for Life Oratorical Contest. Rebecca delivered her speech, All Life is Sacred, at the annual K of C convention April 24.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Right at this moment, I would like each and every one of you to take a look at your watch. My watch says that it is (time).
Now, to you and I, that brief instant in time may well be irrelevant, just another second in our busy lives.
But to the five people who were just born into this world, and to the three people that just passed out of it, that instant where we casually glanced at our watches was, to them, a life changing moment.
In fact, it almost seems incredible that even though thousands of lives are forever changing every minute, we take so much for granted. We have grown so used to the miracle of life that we see everyday, that we are starting to forget how sacred life really is.
Death dished up dailyAs Christians, we are taught to respect all life. However, in reality, this idea is rarely practised. Every day, the media shows us so many horrible images from around the globe - places like Haiti, Iraq and the Gaza Strip, to name a few.
When our children are constantly shown images of brutality, violence and death, how can they come to any conclusion other than "Life is expendable?" It is up to us, as siblings, parents, and society as a whole, to teach them that life deserves respect and that life is sacred.
It has been said that the AIDS pandemic has set Africa ablaze, and the developed nations of the world are attempting to extinguish the flames with eyedroppers.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, as you may know, fires are not self-containing, and these flames are already nipping at our heels. And yet, the governments of developed nations are not doing all that they can to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, and to improve the quality of life for the millions of Africans living with AIDS.
So, what will it take for our governments to really act on this matter?
Is the phrase "All Life is Sacred" only applicable to the citizens of our own nation?
Or is that phrase meant to be all encompassing, to include every human being on this planet?
I believe that it is meant to be all encompassing, and that we cannot place a higher value on certain lives than on others.
It may well be easier to fool ourselves into believing that band-aid solutions will make this problem disappear, but as Jesus showed us, the easy path is not always the correct path. If we, as a developed nation, are truly willing to respect life, then we cannot stand idly by and watch as AIDS kills another person every 10 seconds.
I therefore believe that it is imperative that we urge our governments to act on this pressing matter - to demonstrate through actions, rather than words, that all life is sacred, no matter on which continent one lives.
I have a question to pose you. Why did Mother Teresa's appeal transcend all borders, races, and cultures? It wasn't the clothes that she wore. It definitely wasn't the money that she had.
What made Mother Teresa into a modern day hero was her overwhelming respect for life.
Our society applauds and embraces people like her who believe that life is sacred, yet there are so many people who do not emulate that respect.
This shows me that the majority of people want to respect life, but don't know how to show it.
That is why I believe that we need to teach our children from young, different ways that they can show their respect for life.
And we also must make examples of ourselves, and personify the statement "All life is sacred." Whether it is volunteering for a charitable organization, or simply greeting everyone we meet with a smile, every little gesture counts towards a greater respect for life.
And if we should need guidance from a role model in this venture, we need to look no further than Jesus. He gave respect to all those who were made outcasts by society, such as the crippled and the sick.
He truly believed in the fact that all life is sacred; so much so, that he was willing to be put to death so that he could save the souls of all those who believe. Therefore, by following Jesus' example, and more actively showing our respect for life, our society will undoubtedly begin to represent our belief that all life is sacred.
As I now look at my watch, I see that hundreds of people have been born into this world since we last noted the time.
All of humanity mattersHowever, even though it may be difficult to respect those lives of people whom we do not know, we need to remember that all life is sacred, not only those individuals with whom we share our nationality, our race, or our religion, for we all belong to one race - humanity.
We not only need to teach respect, we need to actively respect those around us, because active respect is what changes the world.
One person who actively respects life, and makes a concerted effort to defend it speaks volumes next to those who believe yet do not act.
By helping those in need, by working towards the betterment of our communities, and by teaching others to actively respect life, we will see, more than ever, what Jesus knew all along: that all life is sacred, all life deserves respect, and that every life is worth fighting for.
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