Over the past few months, I’ve tried to wrap my brain around the multitude of complex issues that have occurred between police officers and people of color within the United States. From my recollection, it seemed like every other day there was a new incident involving an unarmed black man being gunned down by individuals who are sworn to protect the public: the police. Whenever the news of these incidents were revealed to the public, I noticed friends, family, and strangers all begin to take sides as to who they believed was either right or wrong in this situation (involving the police and the individual who was shot). Through social media and conversations with peers, I’ve observed people pick “sides,” such as, “Blue Lives Matter,” “Black Lives Matter,” or “All Lives Matter.” When I observed people use these phrases to justify their stance on life (and which lives matter), I began to establish my own thoughts about how we as a society ought to view life from a metaphysical standpoint. Within this essay, I will first illustrate the significance of the fact that humans are social beings. Second, I will illustrate the importance of sympathy and empathy for social beings like humans. Third, I will argue that human life is precious and that it ought to be appreciated and celebrated uniformly with all human life.
Humans are social beings. We are dependent upon our experiences within the world and with other human beings. Our experiences are important because they help shape our ideas and beliefs; they also allow for us to understand our surroundings as well as other people. For instance, you could not place a new born baby in a room by itself for its entire life and expect it to develop into a human being who can properly rationalize and truly understand what is going on around it. We need other human beings in order to thrive and live. As social beings who learn from experience, hopefully in some capacity during our lifetime, we learn to develop sympathy and empathy. The hope is that we are given the opportunity to have enough experiences in order to indirectly or directly relate to another human being. I’m sure you’ve heard the old phrase: “We fear what we do not know.” A majority of the time, that statement is true because we often don’t fear the things we thoroughly understand (with some exceptions of course). When we fail to sympathize or empathize with another individual who has/had different experiences than us, we occasionally resort to stereotypes and make assumptions. We can learn so much from other people when we listen, rather than immediately resorting to various preconceived notions. Sympathy and empathy wouldn’t be important if we were not the social beings that we are. We rely on others to live and, arguably, could not survive without other human beings.
So why is any of this important? Well, my point is that human life is precious. I believe that most can agree that the lives we live on this earth are precious because they are finite and wholly unique things individually tailored to one particular person. There’s a specialness to life that I do not think we spend enough time appreciating. The life you get to live on this earth is fixed in time and is the culmination of only your personal experiences. Your experiences aren’t born of isolation and tend to involve a variety of people. We’re social beings that interact with other human beings, and we can connect with each other through sympathy and empathy.
Without going into a “good vs bad” or “innocent vs guilty” analysis on human life, I believe that we should value each human life at the same level: a level of mutual appreciation, care, and love. However, there’s a problem. The problem lies with the fact that, for whatever reason, not all lives are publicly viewed as equal. Why does the Black Lives Matter movement exist in the first place? Because there are people who believe that black lives are not being provided the same appreciation, care, and love afforded to other groups of people. When countless unarmed black men are being gunned down or treated with force by the police across the country, it leaves many people wondering: do police officers treat everyone like this, or is it just black people?
In order to invoke change, it all goes back to being able to understand each other so that we can eradicate fear and appreciate how special we all are. In order to get everyone on the same level (in terms of valuing human life), I believe that we all must spend more time appreciating similarities amongst one another and celebrating the fact that we are social beings who all have one precious life to live. We, as a society, can achieve mutual appreciation of life through community outreach programs where people actually take the time to be around those who may be culturally or experientially different. Another way we can achieve mutual appreciation of life is by making sure that our legislature tailors the laws in our communities to help out those groups who face injustice. There’s no question that “All Lives Matter.” However, throughout time, there will be groups of people whose lives are not receiving the same level of appreciation as others and will need support. We are all special. Your life is important to me, and I think that we need to spend more time learning about each other so that we don’t waste another second on this earth in fear or in ignorance. Let’s start appreciating each other by understanding each other. We need more than equality. We need to stand up for those who have been disadvantaged from the start.