Life is short, can’t we get along?

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 10, 2006

Wednesday morning I got a phone call from my mother – the kind of call you don’t really want to get first thing in the morning, or anytime for that matter.

It seems a family friend had died. He was in his late 50’s and died of cancer.

I was surprised, which is, strangely enough, a common reaction to the news of someone’s death.

The first time I remember the death of a loved one was when my great-grandmother died. She lived with us and babysat my brother, sister and me, so we were pretty close to her.

She had a stroke, and although no one really talked to us about what was going on, we began to notice a difference in her behavior and her speech.

I cried when she died, although I didn’t understand the finality of what had happened.

When I was about 15, a school classmate was murdered.

Like an incident that happened this week in Selma, her death was the end result of domestic violence.

She and her mother had moved out and into their own apartment to get away from an abusive stepfather. He busted in on them, attacked her mother, and my friend got in the middle.

Like most of you, I could continue on with my list of people close to me who have passed away.

That might get a little morbid and depressing, but there is a point here – we’ve all experienced such a loss.

And, we’re all heading toward the same destination ourselves.

Hopefully, not a tragic death. More desirable would be one where we die of old age in our own bed.

But, the point is, everyone living right now has that one thing in common – we are all going the same direction toward the end of our lives. (Cheery stuff, right?)

Wherever we are in the world, Republican or Democrat, Christian or Muslim or Jewish, rich or poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or Middle Eastern – death is no respecter of persons.

If you’re fortunate, you get 70 to 80 – maybe 90 – good years of life.

The before-mentioned folks didn’t get that many years. Many don’t. But even 80 years is a short period of time – a dot really on the timeline of the world’s history.

Right now, there are about 6 billion people on the planet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Web site.

In the United States, there’s about 300 million of us.

Narrow that down to the approximately 4 million in the state of Alabama, and the 50,000 or so in Dallas County.

Narrow it down even more to the 19,000 or so who are residents of the city of Selma, and it makes us all seem like neighbors – a community of family and friends.

Now consider that for about 80 years or so – God willing – we’ll be in this thing together.

Such a small planet, such a short amount of time.

Seems like for the duration of our life spans we could just put aside our differences and celebrate what we have in common.

In the words of that great philosopher Rodney King, “Can we all get along?”

TAMMY LEYTHAM is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.