They’re everywhere. People with blood on their hands are mingling with the general population in every possible public setting.

News flash: Every human being is a killer. We all kill things, in cold blood and by proxy.

Like mosquitoes and black flies, for example. True, we kill them in self-defence, with no apologies and not a trace of guilt. It’s justified, we believe. But the objective fact is, most snuff out their lives with nary a thought to the evolutionary miracles that brought them into existence. Their lives would no doubt be considered sacred and front page news if they were discovered on the surface of, say, Mars. But we have no qualms about murdering mosquitoes and black flies on Earth.

Nor do many feel any regret when they deliberately stomp on some little spider crawling on the floor, even though the spider posed no threat at all and actually served a useful purpose to the householder by trapping and consuming things like black flies and mosquitoes. The unreasonable fear of the spider justifies its killing to many.

And so it goes. Humans justify the murders of myriad forms of life: animals, mammals, insects, trees and other forms of vegetation, and, oh yes, human mammals by the ones, threes, dozens, hundreds, thousands and millions in various circumstances. But how much of that justification is legitimate?

Not much, really, other than cutting down trees for lumber and, yes, smacking mosquitoes and black flies into the afterlife.

But we can’t really justify the mass torture and murders of innocent animals for food in the modern era when there are so many meat substitutes available. The fact is, most of us don’t give any thought to the suffering of animals unless, of course, they are our pets. We would jail somebody for murdering our dog. But not the man who kills the lamb in the slaughterhouse. True, most of us don’t actually kill the lambs and the cows and the chickens we eat for dinner. But we have their blood, metaphorically speaking, in our mouths, if not on our hands. By eating their flesh, we are accomplices to their murder and all the suffering they endured beforehand. We support and enable the vast animal-killing system.

Religious types justify the slaughter of most creatures great and small — pets excluded, of course — by pointing to various texts they claim were inspired by some mythical, supernatural entity giving mankind “dominion” over all things on Earth. Of course, men wrote those words as a clause overriding the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” which was pretty simple and straightforward — even if it, too, was written by a man claiming to be inspired by said mythical, supernatural entity.

It gets somewhat more complicated when it comes to killing humans, because said religious types believe we were created in the image of said mythical, supernatural entity, and that the sixth commandment was only about humans. More clauses had to be introduced, because people feel compelled to kill other people sometimes. So, the simple, straightforward commandment, Thou shalt not kill,  was overridden again, justifying the killing of humans in some circumstances and often in the name of said mythical, supernatural entity.

Mankind has a long, gory history of killing people: millions upon millions of them in “legal” wars justified by the diplomats and religious quacks who failed to come up with peaceful solutions to problems. That they could get millions of people to actually go to war boggles the mind — why don’t people refuse to kill in the battlefields? “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” (Yes, there’s the hippie in me quoting ’60s idealism again. But I digress.)

Today, terrorism is the popular form of killing humans by groups professing to be acting on behalf of said mythical, supernatural entity. To them, their justification to kill thousands — billions, if they had the resources — is as real and legitimate as it is for the diplomats who caused world wars.

Indeed, “Thou shalt not kill” as a pillar in the moral and legal temple of civilization has turned out to be pretty shaky and arbitrary and, well, adulterated. It turns out the majority of humans don’t view all sentient life as sacred at all, even if the writer of the sixth commandment did.

So, it seems both hypocritical and encouraging that the same people who support the various mass slaughters of people, animals and other forms of life on planet Earth would be upset over the odd case of homicide. Hypocritical because, well, it’s obvious, yes? Encouraging because some murders of individual citizens seem to awaken something in people who at the least remember the sixth commandment, if not that all sentient life is sacred.

Case in point: Many Quebecers and other Canadians were reminded by the media this week of the cold-blooded murders committed by Karla Homolka and her former husband, Paul Bernardo.

For readers looking in from the U.S. and abroad, Homolka and Bernardo were responsible for the grisly murders of three girls in a sensational sex-slaying case that both shocked and fascinated the aforementioned good citizens of Canada. Homolka made a plea deal with the Crown that saw her get a 12-year sentence for manslaughter in exchange for testimony that would convict the monster that is Bernardo and put him away for life — a life sentence being 25 years in most cases.

Many feel Homolka should have received a longer sentence (but not the death penalty, of course). So, since she got out of jail in 2005 after serving her sentence, she has been hounded by the media in what some people see as a form of modern-day vigilantism, and other people see as journalistic sensationalism that they lap up. Many can’t get enough of it.

Homolka, who has remarried and has three kids, was back in the news this week when it was reported by one TV journalist that she has done the odd bit of supervised volunteer work in the school her children attend. Mainstream media quickly seized on the news, staked out the school and got pictures of Homolka dropping off her kids. There was much outrage over the fact that Homolka was in the school with kids. The media didn’t seem concerned that by naming the school, they might be putting the kids in danger. No matter. Homolka deserves to be hounded for the rest of her days, they feel. She will never be forgiven. People need to be reminded of her crimes. Her victims’ names must not be forgotten. And if her kids are victims as a result, it’s Homolka’s fault, not the media’s — which, incidentally, feel comfortable referring to her on a first-name basis.

I’m not judging anybody now. It’s karma, I suppose. People are angry. I don’t blame them. But I just wish all these people would see the blood on their own hands and be upset about all the other aforementioned murders going on this world, and would reflect on what they can do to reduce them. I wish they would see that the “sanctity of life” applies to all sentient life forms, not just a select group of humans. All living things are manifestations of one Universal Source, which many people call God. So, you could say the lamb in the slaughterhouse is God. You could say, “Thou art God.”

Get it?

Of course, you don’t have to have a religious or metaphysical belief system to respect the sanctity of all life. It’s simple physics:

“We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion-year-old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden”

— Jillian

Photo: Moses with the Tablets of the Law. (Painting by Rembrandt/Wikipedia)