Cherish your life and each other | Guest column

Submitted by Wendy E. Shepard

San Juan Island

Four score years ago, I was born. Times were not easy. World War II was starting in Europe, and two years later the United States would join forces with them. No one knew who would live or die. But all would fight the evil notion that only some people deserved to live.

In all these fourscore years, I have never written the word “evil.” Bur recently, watching the television documentary on Fred Rogers, beloved creator of TV’s “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” he gave his definition of evil that helped me understand it… and know that it was time to write the word. To paraphrase, he said that evil was the idea that some people were not deserving of love. Not the sentimental kind of love, a temporary feeling, but unconditional love that accepted them just the way they were.

Luckily, my parents never spoke a word against anyone that differed from them because of race, spiritual tradition, nationality, economic status, etc. Growing up in rural New England, Nature taught that differences were the norm. Science teachers took their cue from Nature and taught what is now a cliché — that each snowflake that fell on the fields in winter was different from every other snowflake.

In human society, such it is with people, each one unique in all of time and space. There has never been, nor is there now, nor will there ever be another you or me. Which means that each of us has our own special purpose for being on Earth.

That is the wonder of being alive. That is the beauty of every living thing on the planet. That is the essence of equality.

For who is to say that anyone’s purpose, anyone living being, is better or worse than any other? Who is to say who should live or die? We are equally wondrous, just by virtue of being born. Not more wondrous than anyone else, not less wondrous, but equally wondrous.

On first reading Abraham Lincoln’s words in history class, the word “equal” stirred my soul, and ever since then I have explored what it means. No real answers except my own, just as you have yours. All I know is that equality is the essence of this country’s mission; and like all missions, it holds a vision of what we want to become.

In the midst of today’s coronavirus pandemic, asked to stay at home to curb the spread of the disease, I know that we are equally vulnerable. We do not know who will live, who will die. Here in the arms of Nature, perhaps it is the ideal time to nurture the vision of the wonder and beauty of who we are. Then, when this, too, has passed, perhaps we will be more receptive to the wonder and beauty in everyone else, curbing the spread of any evil that tries to arise.

Kindest wishes to all of us for health and happiness.