Thou Shalt not Kill: a Christian Commandment

Thou shalt not kill

If you were asked to rhyme off the ten commandments, supposed rules of God in Christianity, I am willing to bet “thou shalt not kill” is one of the ones you could quote.

Canadians are heartbroken and disgusted after the sickening discovery of 215 bodies of indigenous children recently at a residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. The fear is that this horrific discovery is just the tip of a genocidal iceberg.

Residential schools were created in 1876 as free boarding schools for indigenous children, funded by the Canadian government and run by the Catholic church. In 1894 attendance became mandatory, until 1947, although the last school only closed its doors in 1996, not that long ago. The intention was to enable the children to adjust to Canadian (rather than indigenous) cultures, to convert the children to Christianity, and to civilize them. These schools were intentionally located far away from indigenous communities to limit the children’s contact with their families, fully immersing the children in their adopted (supposedly superior) culture.

Forced to speak English or French, the children were stripped of their ancestral languages and heritage. Rumours of physical and sexual abuse were rampant within the residential schools. Children that ran away were severely punished upon their return, if they returned. Many went missing, never to return, so it was reported. The dead bodies cropping up are telling a different, more sinister tale although poor record keeping and unmarked graves will make it nearly impossible to unearth the whole, ugly truth.

Back to the ten commandments. How can any religion or culture that proclaims to follow the rules of Christianity participate in such heinous acts of abuse, torture and genocide on innocent children? It makes me sick! How could those that did survive those torture-filled years ever lead normal lives afterward?

How and why are the perpetrators not held accountable for their actions? An apology is severely insufficient. This was not a single act of abuse or a simple mistake, but years of racially motivated, discriminatory, criminal acts.

Thou shalt not kill

All Lives Matter, Equally

all lives matter

As protesters in the USA (and around the world in solidarity) spread the message that BLACK LIVES MATTER, we must keep in mind that all lives should matter equally.

No one disputes the fact that the unnecessary and violent demise of George Floyd in Missouri was horrific, only one in a list of black lives brutally taken by white police officers over the past few years. Police have to do better, everywhere. They have been sworn to protect and serve everyone, respectfully and without discrimination. They must be held accountable for their mistakes, harassment, bullying, poor judgement, and especially the cold blooded, calculated acts of violence such as the one we all saw on video recently.

On the flip side, we must respect that fact that the job of a police officer is not an easy one. They are called upon to investigate, solve and diffuse a diversity of situations, often putting themselves in danger. Many of their decisions and reactions have to be made in a split second. That’s where their training has to come in, so they are (better) equipped to make educated, fair, non-discriminatory decisions. Intentionally killing an officer must remain classified as first degree murder. They deserve respect too.

My brother is a retired RCMP officer; I have heard many stories throughout his career. Some funny, some sad, some downright tragic. In fact, you can spot the active or retired officers posts on social media, of course they can relate to “their side” of a situation. We must remember and respect that there are always (at least) two sides to every discussion and argument.

Back to the matter at hand, the ongoing protests and ensuing vandalism, looting and violence. Many are peaceful demonstrations, simply demanding change and respect. Perhaps the violent ones start out peaceful too, but the out of control rampages do not solve anything. In fact, they detract from the message the peaceful protesters are trying so hard to get across to those with the power to make the changes we so obviously need.

Yes, black lives matter. So do blue lives. All lives matter, equally. At least they should. We must accept the fact that racism still exists in most countries around the world and do better. Although we have come a long way over the years, we must continue to move forward with revised practices, training, education and laws. For everyone!