As I process our trip to India for SBC’s wedding, my first thoughts involve the basics: human life. Who is valued? Who is not valued?
As in every airport, there were two lines to check in at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi: one line for First Class passengers with two agents and a handful of people in line and another line for everybody else with three agents and a massive crowd. I get it. If you pay for a First Class ticket, you get perks like shorter lines.
People with more money are considered more valuable. Everywhere.
This is how we’ve set up the world. What if the most valuable people were the ones who could lift the most weight or give birth to the most babies? What if the most valuable humans were the ones with the tallest heights or the darkest skin tone?
Nope, we’ve gone with money as the highest value. Even if you have no “class” (good manners, etc.), no wisdom, no integrity, no spiritual depth, you are considered most valuable if you have money.
And although the caste system in India was abolished before I was born, some of my Indian friends continue to self-identify as Brahmin (the highest class comprised of priests and intellectuals) and it’s clear that those who live in the streets are essentially invisible. India is such a gorgeous country and also it is filled with people who endure some of the worst levels of poverty on earth. I noticed that our hosts pointed out the majestic buildings and luscious foliage while not commenting about those living in front of those buildings or on the roads along the parklands.
Part of the color and character of India includes the fact that on any given highway there are sparkling white SUVs, green and yellow e-rickshaws, and ox-drawn wagons speeding side by side with horns honking. The contrast between the wealthy and the poor is quite stark, as it is in many parts of the world – including the United States.
As we tried to keep up with what was going on in the world during our trip – Ukraine, legislation prohibiting the discussion of sexuality in public schools, legislation concerning Transgender people, border issues – it was clear that much of the political battles being fought today are about the value of human life. Simplistically speaking, one side says they value human life by honoring the lives of the unborn. And another side says they value human life by honoring LGBTQA+ or immigrants or the people who don’t have cash to cover their bail although they haven’t been found guilty of anything. One side says they honor Blue Lives and the other side says they honor Black and Brown Lives. Again, this is simplistic.
On the cusp of Holy Week, if we remember anything about the message of Jesus, I hope we remember that Jesus died for all lives including the unborn child and the Trans child, the police officer (including the violent ones) and the incarcerated (including the guilty ones), the Republicans and the Democrats, the Ukrainians and the Russians, the Brahmins and the Dalits. Jesus died for the man on top of the bamboo wagon pictured above. Jesus died for you and for me.
I believe this. And even if you don’t, that’s okay. I – for one – will pray for a peaceful Holy Week where all of us value the people Jesus values.
Image taken on the highway from Dehradun to Delhi, April 2022.