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When society legitimizes the suppression of the individual – regardless of his stage of life or the threat to his/her health – it denies the purpose and basis of his existence, paving the way for more serious abuse. As I viewed the body of  Michael Brown, another  dead young man, I was struck and greatly pained by the lack of dignity  he was given in death. When a dead person’s body is left on the street unattended,  human dignity dies a little?

Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.The approach to to the dying/dead  must be inspired by the respect for the life and the dignity of the person. It should pursue the aim of making proportionate treatment available but without engaging in any form of “overzealous treatment”.

This young man was killed. After viewing the military arms that the police had access to, one has to wonder if they have any regard for anyone’s life? Do they have any honor or respect for mortality at all? Why was his body left uncovered in a street? Could not one of the police cars on grounds not have had a sheet to cover him?  Would not one of the policemen request a sheet from a bystander? There was so little dignity left to how he was treated.  In most precincts in the country police cars carry sheets and tarps. Did his life  mean so little to the police that it was just another day at the office? Was this standard operating procedure? In my opinion it was extremely  reckless. This is no how things are handled in normal society with realistic operating procedures.

In fact, as a consequence of the possibilities of criminal life and actions states have  effectively created ways of  stopping someone they have arrested in a crime, by rendering the one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitively taking away  life . They therefore show that there is the possibility of  the person redeeming himself/herself.  The cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent. The fifth commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person’s death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger. Stealing is not grave. It is not worthy of being gunned down.

The bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection. The treatment of the  dead is a corporal work of mercy; it honors the children of God, who are temples of the Holy Spirit. Where was the care for his body?  Everything in this case is wrong and leads to anger and distaste.

It also harkens back to when our bodies were hung from trees and people  cheered, jeered and celebrated. Where was the dignity?

Take a moment to look at the poignant images below.

Contemplate it.  Have mercy on us all.

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When A Dead Person’s Body Is Left In The Open Doesn’t Human Dignity Die A Little?  was originally published on