Don’t Waste Your Breath



Lung cancer does not know if you are conservative or liberal, atheist or believer. Cancer does not care about your race, gender, sexual orientation, or if you are a good person. Heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, strokes, car and air crashes don’t care how wealthy or famous you are. And when we die, (because we all do), our fleshless skulls all smile the same smile—which makes justice and kindness all the more urgent.

Urgent even if you believe that there is a symphony on the other side of death, that a choir spot is reserved for you, the sheet music opened to the right spot, marked with a pencil where you are supposed to join in. Imagine showing up and standing mute, unable to sing, because your voice never learned to speak up for what is just and good, because it was never able to rise above a whisper for anything but yourself. In the chorus of those who are blessed because they are poor, because they mourn, because they hunger for righteousness, because they are persecuted, imagine losing your voice because it only ever spoke for the rich, the comfortable, and those who have never known hunger.

Regardless of what you believe about life after death, over your lifetime on this planet, in this life, you are allocated a certain number of breaths. What words will you choose to say with your own limited supply of air?

If you are a preacher, a pundit, a talk show host, a teacher, a leader—

If you are one of the lucky ones with a platform, whose voice is magnified, whose privilege makes your voice louder than others—

What message will you leave to the rest of us with your dying breath? Will you laugh with it? Sob with it? Sing it? Scream it? If it were set to music, would it make you proud?

Say it early. Say it often.

The rest is just noisy gongs and clanging cymbals.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Waste Your Breath

  1. Well done. Good Christian Liberals are wondering how they should respond to the news that Rush Limbaugh has lung cancer. Matthew 5:44, Proverbs 25:21-22.
    The Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testament command us to do good for our enemies, to not repay evil for evil.
    Perhaps Rush Limbaugh will see things differently.
    Perhaps Rush Limbaugh will become even more of a force of reactionary politics. Who knows?
    But we follow Christ. It’s time for us to act like Christians.

  2. I shared this with several of my friends (many whom have differing opinions than I on matters political & religious) regarding the man to whom you obliquely refer:

    “Just read that Rush Limbaugh has announced that he has “advanced lung cancer,” which is likely late stage 3 or more likely, stage 4 (metastatic, meaning it has spread to other areas/organs.

    “One hates to rejoice in others’ sufferings (most often), and we both know the end of all humankind is death.

    “But you know, it’s difficult not to imagine that in some mysteriously inexplicable way, one gets what’s coming to them, if they don’t amend their ways.

    “IOW, as the late singer/songwriter John Lennon once sang, “Instant karma’s gonna’ get you.”

    ““Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.

    ““Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Jefferson trembled when he thought of slavery and remembered that God is just. Ere long all America will tremble.”

    “–– Theodore Parker (1810-1860) Unitarian minister, theologian, Harvard Divinity School graduate, abolitionist, and prominent American Transcendentalist, in the third sermon “Of Justice and the Conscience” from his 1853 collection entitled “Ten Sermons of Religion.” Parker’s phraseology “moral universe”… “arc is a long one”… and “bends toward justice” is widely thought to be the basis for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s statement that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.””

    While I no longer “believe” the things I once did (I find myself either ID’ing as agnostic, deist, or something very different than most of Protestant Christendom and Catholicism), I do posit to those who would listen to my argument, that I find it inconsistent, and incomprehensible that an allegedly all-loving Supreme Being portrayed as a/the “perfect parent” would ever consider condemning anyone to an “eternal torment” of any alleged “Hellfire,” simply because no parent in their right mind would ever so punish their own child (flesh and blood), regardless of how many times, or how angry or they had ever made their parents. So for me, at least, I say that the only thing we can know (quote, unquote) about any such Creator, is that such a Being is pure love. Other than that, we’re simply taking shots in the dark.

    But, having “said” as much, I simply cannot imagine that – and it does not surfeit theological discussion to so do – that something came from nothing, for there is no law nor rule in science which so states as much, that something comes from nothing. Everything has a source, a beginning, a start… somewhere. So the ex nihilo argument is fascinating, which I posit as “where’d the stuff for the Big Bang come from?”, and which philosophers and theologians posit as the First Cause, a germ of an idea which can be traced, per se, to Francesco Redi, which disproved spontaneous generation.

    Nevertheless… point being, one’s suffering may very well be here on Earth, rather than an “afterlife,” and there’s little question that suffering exists here. It is, as you suggest, our responsibility to reduce it, inasmuch as possible. But then again, the arguments for such trajectories are themselves points of discussion, and often much dissent, some even vitriolic. And that speaks to our nature, which we are capable of changing.

    However, your point is well made, and that is, that we have a “higher calling” to love and serve one another (which I what to got out of it – correct me if I’m mistaken).

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