The title of this post may appear easy and familiar for most of us to do and certainly to recognize as essential to our lives. In the early 1980s this was the theme under which we could get lectures on cassette tape of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. However, as years went by in reflecting on these three words “Respect for Life” a degree of maturity has led me to realize that in respecting life we inevitably come to the point where life sooner or later presents so many changes that the respect we may have at one time had becomes ‘common’.
As a young man growing up under the Minister, whatever I requested from him he would always ask me “for what purpose?” I sometimes would become very frustrated because what I was requesting seemed to me to be very simple but when he would ask “for what purpose?” I realized that it meant more than just the immediate request. He was actually getting me to think and reflect on the long-term effect.
Do we think about the long-term effect of our requests or are we caught up in the immediate desire for what we want? Let’s reflect again in the Holy Qur’an when ALLAH (God) says to us: “O you who believe, seek assistance through patience and prayer, surely Allah is with the patient.” This quote from the Holy Qur’an is found in Surah 2 Verse 153. The challenge of life is in its vicissitudes which reference the constant changes that we all go through and we encounter in each other when in any kind of relationship. I discovered this change in my study of the Scriptures in the Bible in the words: “ “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty”. ” (NKJV Revelation 1:8)
Change is a fact of life, it’s inevitable and a constant in life itself. As we are today, it’s not necessarily or actually the way we were yesterday, or how we will be tomorrow. In interpersonal relationships the mistake most commonly made, in my observation, is expecting that people and circumstances will be the same in the passing of time. Veritably they are not. This forms the word ‘vicissitudes’ which is defined as “A change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant.” (lexico dot com powered by Oxford). Life is growing, evolving every moment of our existence spiritually, mentally and physically.
In the previous quote from the Book of Revelation where God says that He is Alpha and Omega from the Greek words that mean that God is the beginning and the end, there is a time sequence or chronology that scientifically is being implied in the time between the beginning and the end; which is not of time itself as much as it is movements in time. For those of us who believe in ALLAH (God) as the Author of Time itself, more than a chronology, time sequences are theology because nothing happens beyond or without the permissive Will of God; hence the Greek word ‘Theo’ which means ‘God’.
When God, in the Scriptures, is referenced as making all things new in the existence of everything in life, there is a beginning and an end to the stages of that life. In what stage or phase of life and maturity are YOU in? This is a rhetorical question that I am also asking myself on a daily basis as I too am going through constant changes on many levels. Respecting life starts with observing its constant changes. I am not what I was and I am not as I shall become. So who I am and who you are must be understood as life in transition. The problem with most of us is when we disrespect this natural, evolutionary change that is a constant in everyone.
I’m reminded of a movie I saw a few years ago with our Brother Ice Cube titled “Are We There Yet?” In this movie it displayed the natural impatience of children who are constantly asking the question “are we there yet?”. Meanwhile, to get there they had to go through many challenges that come with a road trip. While there were many humorous themes, I found it to be very true to life itself confirming why the Holy Qur’an says to seek assistance from ALLAH through patience and prayer. Are we there yet? Am I 18 or 21 yet? When will I graduate school? When will I finish the task at hand? At what age are we considered ‘grown’? At what point are we too young or too old? When and how am I just not enough for a particular person or circumstance?
These I believe are very good questions to reflect on and by reflection, respect. Again, ‘respect’ does not mean objectively to reward or compliment, but instead it means to look again. To disrespect anyone or anything is to ‘dis’ (or neglect) observing its value. The antidote to disrespect is to never take anyone, anything or any circumstance in life at any age, for granted. In the Bible it reads “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.” (NKJV Mark 14:7). While this is referencing the words of Jesus, it would be wise of us to take this as a principle of how we should be mindful of the time we have with each other. In summary, we must exercise greater respect for life because we have it for only a little while (in the flesh). 😇