Johnny Cash, The Man in Black
This week is the Sixth Word, the shortest, bluntest of the Ten Words, made strikingly so by following, as it does, the lengthy Word about honouring one’s parents. It simply states
“Do not kill.”
I sat down to begin work on this chapter 2 days after the shooting in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado in 2012, which left 12 dead and 70 wounded. Those 12 were part of the almost 16,000 people murdered in the US that year, 11,000 of whom were killed with a firearm. I am about 5 times more likely to be murdered living in the US than I am living in the UK. Two months ago, a 21 year old young man was shot and killed in the park at the end of our street. Last week a man was shot and killed a few blocks from our home. My very first day in the US two decades ago found me staring down the barrels of a shotgun held in the shaking, drunk hands of a college student.
“Do not kill.” It’s the very basis of human society – respect for the life of your neighbour. And yet somewhere between 30 and 40 people will be murdered in the US today – often by their neighbour, someone they know well, if not very well. Even though the murder rate has dropped significantly since the 1980s, we continue to struggle as a society with the violation of this Word.
When choosing a song lyric for this chapter, I settled on “The Man in Black” by Johnny Cash. It’s a song of lament that could easily find its home among the Psalms. What song(s) come to mind for you when you read those words, “Do not kill”? As always, write the lyric and the artist in the comment section below, and let’s see what kind of playlist we can come up with together this week.
(You can find last week’s playlist for the Seventh Word, “Do not commit adultery” here: 7: do not betray. Congratulations to Bill Guerrant, who gets a copy of TEN for his suggestion of the rollicking pub favourite, “Seven Drunken Nights.”)