I think the most amazing leisure time I’ve had recently has been spent with friends and family in discussion; anything and everything can come up and often does in these conversations and it’s so amazing to have like-minded individuals around who share a mutual love for this fellowship. Recently during one such occasion, one of our friends brought up a point that has been on my mind ever since I heard it: that of the value of a life.
Nowadays people seem to think that everything has a cost, but what is the cost of a life; it’s real value? uncle Rafique Masih gave me the recent example of the Israeli soldier;
Gilad Shalit – 25 years old and at the forefront of one of the most amazing stories of loyalty and love today. Gilad is an Israeli soldier, a Sergeant Major now to be exact in the Israeli military. In June 2006, he was captured inside Israel by Hamas militants in a cross-border raid via underground tunnels near the border with Gaza. The Hamas militants held him for over five lengthy and torturous years; during which he was cut off from family, friends, and even the rightfully due visits granted in accordance to international humanitarian law from aid organizations such as the Red Cross; who would provide proper medical care for him. Those that did see him were in clear agreement that the conditions and circumstances of his imprisonment were inhumane; Hamas was afraid that if anyone found out where he was being kept it would compromise their goal. What was their goal? To recover the criminals that lurked in Israeli prisons back into their fold.
Once they had him, Hamas along with other sympathizing groups, issued a ransom letter stating that in order to get him back, Israel must release all Palestinian female prisoners under the age of 18; the question is why did Israel have female prisoners under the age of 18 in the first place? What’s going on in Palestine that even underage women have decided to become criminals?
For the life of one single man, the Jewish nation bent over backwards. Three days after his capture Israeli forces entered Palestinian territory themselves to try to find him. They exhausted all political and diplomatic options. In the attack that led to his capture, Gilad suffered a broken hand and shoulder wound but wasn’t treated until July 1rst by a Palestinian doctor according to their Palestinian reports; on this day the Israeli government vowed that “the sky would fall” if they did not get him back. He is their son.
But the captors took this as their weakness, now they wanted 1000 prisoners released and then later 1300; criminals – murders who by their own accounts had killed at least over 500 Israelis; and as I’ve posted before we know how reliable those numbers are coming from that source. But one or 500, Gilad is Israel’s son and even though they first refused negotiating with evil, evil would not have it.
Shalit’s family struggled with their horrifying circumstances doing all they could to convince their countries officials, and in response to his father’s organizing of a pilgrimage march Netanyahu promised to release 1000 Palestinian criminals in exchange for Gilad Shalit: one man for a thousand criminals.
But like I said, Gilad is not just anyong, he is a son of Israel.
What do even a thousand Palestinian time bombs compare to a loyal and steadfast son of Israel (and before you criticise me this is not what I would think of Palestinian people believe you me, I value them as humans more than their own governing bodies - who use them as devices to attain their political goals)? Will the fighting stop with the criminals off the Palestinian occupied streets? Will it stop if they get their “freedom” back? The answer to both is a resounding NO.
Israel wanted their man back and in the end, this month negotiations have been made to release a total of 1,027 criminals back into Palestine for the release of Gilad Shalit. He’s home now, thank God.
How clever are those people who now feel as though they can keep capturing one man after another to release hundreds even thousands of their own? But what value have they shown for life? Think about what Israel has proven; as uncle Rafique so eloquently put it: one Israeli soldier is worth more than a thousand of their criminals, only because Israel understands what the value of a life really is – that they would be willing to sacrifice their safety to keep him alive.
In this world there are few other places where we can see this kind of respect for life; and one of our best examples (and really the only one that we should look to as an ideal) is in the bible. How do we understand what life really is?
As people of a Judeo-Christian background, we believe in the sanctity of human life: that it is extraordinary and holy, specifically because through life (especially human life) we share something of the Nature of God. From Genesis 2:7 we read “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” The Hebrew word for man (adam) may be related to the word for ground (adamah) and from this we can see that man was literally formed into life by the hand of God, he was breathed into existence by the same life that dwells within the Lord. What can be more valuable than that? In Genesis 1:26-27 the bible also tells us that “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” We are reflections of God, and in our existence can be seen a glimpse of Him. We are more than body and mind, we are soul.
CS Lewis once said “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body.” What does that say about how we should live and value both our own and life in other people? It’s a really profound quote when you think about it, you’re a soul in a body, not a body with a soul attached. If you live like a soul and see others as soul beings then you begin to understand how and why life is valuable.
God says He knew each of us while we were formed in the womb, He knows the count of every hair on our heads, He knows us by name each and every one – and He gave His life to save ours. If the Almighty Creator of all things values our lives, who are we not to do the same?
I think I might be rambling on but it’s just something to think about..