The former Chief Justice of the South Carolina Court of Appeals, Alexander Sanders, told the following story about his daughter Zoe. The judge came home from work when Zoe was 3 and learned her pet turtle had died. Zoe’s mother had dealt with her crying throughout the day and informed him it was “Daddy’s turn.” The judge regularly ruled on complex legal issues but explaining death to a 3-year-old was out of his league. He suggested they buy another turtle, but even at 3, Zoe knew a turtle was not a toy.
Finally, desperate to stop her tears, he suggested a funeral. However, Zoe had never been to a funeral. Sanders explained, “a funeral is like a birthday party. We’ll have ice cream and cake and lemonade and balloons, and all the children in the neighborhood can come over to play.”
It worked; Zoe’s tears turned to smiles, her turtle’s death was now a reason to celebrate! However, at that moment the “dead turtle” began to move and soon crawled away as lively as a turtle ever is. Zoe looked up at her father and suggested, “Daddy, LET’S KILL IT.”
In times past, when the subject of murder was discussed, most people thought of the crime rate in cities. That is no longer true, murder has invaded every part of society. Sociologists have struggled to explain why urban violence has increasingly invaded all of America. Why does someone commit murder? There are probably many answers, but in the final analysis, murder is nearly always rooted in selfishness.
It makes no sense why a hate-filled young man would shoot African Americans simply because their skin color was different than his. No one can understand why a teenager in Uvalde, Texas, would go on a shooting spree in an elementary school. Why would an upset patient shoot his physician and others at a Tulsa doctor’s office?
It is hard to imagine why two young men would carefully craft a plan to kill as many as possible at Columbine High School, but they did. Even more unthinkable is how Nazis in Germany murdered six million Jews during World War II.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s the murder rate declined. Though the US population grew by 56 million between 1993 and 2012, there were 9,699 fewer murders in 2012, a roughly 40% statistical drop.
The sixth commandment says, “You must not murder.” (Exodus 20:13, NLT) The command challenges the attitude which says, I can take another person’s life if it will make my life better.
I do not have the right to take another person’s life to make mine better. I am grateful no one has the right to take my life either. Murder would practically disappear if each of us made a commitment to treat others the way we want to be treated.