Saving Lives
October 27, 2011, 12:01 am
Filed under: Society | Tags: , , , ,

I have been thinking lately that the greatest accomplishment people can make is to save lives.

One thing that inspired my ideas on saving life was a comment I made on Facebook Sunday about how insulting someone’s manhood is similar to insulting a black person’s race loyalty.

I kept thinking and thinking. Then I thought about me thinking about the comment I wrote. I’m so lame, I thought, for repeating the words of my FB comment in my mind over and over.

But the more I thought of the comment the more meaning I found in it. For one, men being manly and blacks being loyal to the black race were probably both at one time related to protecting people’s lives: Men protected their families, villages, or countries, and black people protected other blacks, including slaves historically.

Think of the term “Uncle Tom.” This is someone who was unafraid to be disloyal to other blacks, something that could’ve meant punishment, including death, for other slaves during slavery. Today people who deny their blackness (like maybe Tiger Woods) not only their blackness, but the responsibility of fixing the problem of racial inequality in America.

I focus on black people because I grew up black and being concerned about looking like I wanted to be white, i.e. seeming to disown my blackness. As a kid, I liked the t.v. show “Beverly Hills 90210,” liked wearing flesh-toned stockings layered with slouch socks like white girls did, went to a predominantly white high school, and, perhaps most damaging of all to my blackhood: I’ve always been attracted to white boys/men more often than black boys/men.

I’m still kind of hesitant to say that, especially because I watched a “Boondocks” cartoon a FB friend posted a couple days ago about an “Uncle Tom” figure, who drooled over white girls. I was laughing out loud at the cartoon in which the “Uncle Tom” figure repeatedly calls black people “nigger.” I stopped when the character starts talking about white girls and has to take a break to calm himself down because he gets so excited. (Frown.) It reminded me of the sensitive nature of my preference for white men.

A few days later, I saw an interracial couple at the gym, and I could feel their self-consciousness, especially the black guy’s. I was self-conscious, too, wanting to smile at them to let them know I was fine with them, but I didn’t want to be too involved in their business.

Later, I felt unsuccessful, and thought maybe I should be overt, and next time say something like, “You’re alright with me.” Afterall, it’s our jobs to save people’s lives, not sit passively by, trying not to be “overly involved.”

I feel one way I’m supposed to save lives is by making suicide less likely. When Tyler Clemente killed himself because his roommate taped him having sex I felt certainly I was meant to help him. I just hadn’t taken my place in the world in time.

I didn’t know how, exactly then. But I surely felt I didn’t want to be a part of the public that must have seemed intolerant of seeing someone have sex, or learning someone was gay. It’s life, people. Time to grow up.

Similarly, I felt like our team lost when med student Phillip Markoff (referred to as “The Craig’s List killer”) killed himself in prison. He was a casualty to traditional ideas of what makes a person valuable (money, marital status, race, etc.). I felt the same way when I heard in the news months ago about a Pennsylvania dad who killed his wife and son and them himself. The family was having financial problems.

I’ve considered suicide many times in life, and I believe that’s useful insight into how to save others. How might you save another person’s life, or spare them the hurt you’ve encountered in life? I do believe when you help others in the way you’ve needed help, you fulfill your purpose in this life.


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