That’s Why We Shouldn’t Be Killing Anyone

veins arteries

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”Gerard Manley Hopkins

Everyone… everyone seemed to be “bleared, smeared with toil.”

I made an attempt to interact at the dinner table, and I chose to bring up an amazing set of facts that I had come across earlier in the day; I vowed to be smart and stay away from subjects that I knew might be off-putting to my loved ones. I simply wanted to have a little friendly — uncontroversial — back and forth, some sort of intimate exchange, connection.

“There are enough veins and arteries in one adult,” I said, during one lull in the conversation about what we had all seen at the Farmers Market, “to….” I stopped myself from repeating what I had read earlier, and posed a question: “If you laid out all the veins and arteries that are in your body — end to end — how long would that be? How far would it take you?” There was silence. “I found this amazing information today,” I continued, “that I think would blow kids away, totally amaze my students.” Silence.

“Really, if you stretched out your veins and arteries how much land would it cover?” Everyone glazed over. “It would wrap around the earth two-and-a-half times,” I explained, looking forward to making a dent in the collective ennui. “That’s 95,000 kilometers,” I quickly added, expecting to impress. My loved ones barely took that in, though one of them simply noting that the veggies were more expensive than she had expected.

I elaborated: “That’s mostly tiny, delicate capillary tubes, and the nerves in our body, responsible for feeling and movement, come in at 73 kilometers!”

Not believing how unresponsive they were being, I hit them with what I had been holding back on… as a kind of punchline. I noted, “But the nerves in our brain… they can cover a vast 165,000 kilometers.”

“Were you talking about the broccoli?”, she asked our son.

They used to be activists, the two of them. And I had always understood why they had chosen to step away from civic engagement a few years back. But now I found myself re-visiting their outlooks, imagining what might be going on with them these days.

Clearly, they weren’t amazed, as I was. Not blown away by the life inside of them. My partner could run circles around me as far as observing the miracles in the garden, but… she was somehow missing the miraculous that was part and parcel of her own being. Ditto for our lovely boy.

I was seeing God in the details I was relating. But I started to think about the vast majority of people out there. For them, there was some kind of different kind of “god” to follow. Something, somehow, more special than the veins and the arteries. The activists I knew weren’t into money and fame, but they were deeply into something other than tiny, delicate capillary tubes. Winning an election? Prevailing with regard to a minimum wage battle? Securing coverage for an anti-racism rant? Organizing a march? Raising funds? Collecting signatures?

If that well-meaning, necessary activity was not grounded in respect for Mystery, what did it amount to? An advance or victory on earth?

I suddenly realized what God was all about… not in the details I’ve delineated, but in the absence of appreciation on the part of my loved ones and pretty much everyone else I cross paths with these days.

The lack of profound — moment to moment — acknowledgment of what I’m calling Mystery here should be instructive. For to see God (albeit, through a glass darkly), one need only ask oneself what all the earthly focus and activity is when juxtaposed with those amazing details.

It is yearning for God.

And that’s why we shouldn’t be killing anyone.

Marcel Duchamp Oxman, a teacher at the Flannery O’Connor Academy, and has been an educator on all levels for many decades. He can be reached at [email protected]. The author humbly and respectfully requests that readers check out his previous posting, and provide feedback.




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