Deadly shooting incidents continue to haunt the US. Hlase Baloyi talks about violence and values

Another shooting. Five people dead in a drive-by near Pittsburgh. All this leads me to say this: We need to ask ourselves what it is that we believe about the value of a life.

You know, this world is a complicated, broken, messed up place. We humans are broken, messed up, and flawed. If you know that, then when something negative happens, where do you get off thinking that you have the right to end someone’s life?

Like seriously, some people think they can name 20 reasons to end another person’s life. And you know what the natural effect of that is? It’s the expansion of that list to 30 reasons, then 40, then 50…

Until and unless we view life as sacred and not to be taken by vigilantes—without any justice or in exchange for things—we will continue to see shootings in this country. Trust me, people now kill you for the most trivial reason. And why? Because our society is messed up and condones killing for many reasons that are not right.

You steal from me? I’ll kill you!
You holler at my girl? I’ll kill you!
You talk about my mom? I’ll kill you!
You snitch? I’ll kill you!
Don’t pay me what you owe me? I’ll kill you!
I need that inheritance money. I’ll kill you!
You wear the wrong colors in my hood? I’ll kill you!
You give my kid a bad grade? I’ll kill you!
You support the wrong party? I’ll kill you!
You almost ran me over? I’ll kill you!
Better give me those shoes or… I’ll kill you!

On and on and on I could go.

I understand the impulse to avenge. If my loved ones were harmed I’d feel that way. But does it mean I avenge? As South African “People’s Poet” Mzwakhe Mbuli once said, “An eye for an eye makes the world blind.”

If we avenge everything bad that happens to us, and we do so with no regard for the value of life, we are a doomed people. We will one day wipe ourselves out. In an unforgiving world this is our destiny. In a world where the value of life fluctuates and is only subjectively as valuable as what you personally think, the future is bleak and blood will be spilled never-endingly.

God gave life. Let him be the one to take it back, not you. Life is sacred. Preserve it and love it.


Hlase Baloyi, a lawyer, moved to the US from Zimbabwe 20 years ago. He lives in Washington DC where he has plenty of Filipino neighbors. He likes trying out Filipino food and describes himself as a “regular guy living on planet Earth”. Follow him on Facebook


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