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.