Thou Shalt not Kill. Many think we’ve probably got that one down. Most of us don’t routinely kill other people each day or even once in a lifetime. So, on to the next commandment! Well….not so fast.
First of all, Jesus warns that the heart of the 5th Commandment not to kill includes not only the act of killing but also the things that lead up to killing. He uses the example of holding on to vengeful anger (cf Matt. 5:22) and of hateful attitudes that depersonalize and dehumanize others (cf Matt 5:22). In some of these matters we may all fall short from time to time. We may not actually have killed but our anger or hatred can be such that some one “might as well be dead for all we care.” We can get to the point where we stop reverencing the dignity of another’s’ life and in this we have transgressed the heart of the 5th commandment according to Jesus.
A second and even more common way we might transgress the 5th Commandment is reckless behavior that endangers the life of others. The most common form of this is reckless driving and also “distracted driving.” Excessive speeding and erratic lane shifting, blowing through stop lights, texting while driving, excessive chatter and banter with other passengers, drunk driving and so forth are all ways we can endanger the lives of others. The catechism teaches the following regarding reckless behavior:
Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reason, he acted in a way that brings about some one’s death, even without the intention of doing so. (CCC 2269).
The following video is difficult to watch. It is NOT for the faint of heart. But it is meant to strongly admonish especially the young, but also the not so young, that distracted driving can have awful consequences. If we are not serious about driving safely then we are reckless and endanger the lives of others. This is a violation of the respect for life demanded by the 5th Commandment.