The summer of 2012 has been unlike any other in recent history. News reports have been dominated by stories of violent crimes, many of which have led to the death of innocent and unsuspecting bystanders.

What stands out about these crimes is their very brazen nature. An online video of the death and dismemberment of a Chinese student who had come to Canada in search of a better life. Gunfire in a crowded shopping mall food court that claimed 2 lives and sent 6 others to hospital. An execution-style hit in broad daylight at an outdoor café. A gunfight reportedly resulting from a dispute over a parking spot, which killed 2 people and injured more than 20 others.

For some, life has ceased to have inherent value and meaning. It has taken a back seat to pride, money, the quest for infamy, the exercise of power or even something as trivial as a parking spot. When subordinated to such things, life is cheap and dispensable and the culture of death prevails. It is difficult not to despair.

Despite all this, I have been reminded of the value of life and the beauty of the world around us by my baby boy who, born in May, is discovering daily what it means to be alive.

Oblivious to the cruelty, complexity and chaos of the world around him, he delights in the simplest things. He squeals with joy as we pass a flannel blanket over his face, basks in the warm comfort of his bath water, and marvels at his tiny little fingers.

He is mesmerized by the things we take for granted—treetops swaying in the wind, the arches of the colonnade outside our apartment building, the rich wonderful array of sights and colours in the grocery store. He notices the strangers we ignore.

As yet, he knows no evil and has suffered nothing more than having to wait a few extra minutes to be fed or changed or put to bed. He has been surrounded in love by his parents, extended family, neighbours, and church community, and he greets them, one and all, with a big toothless smile.

He reminds me that life does have inherent value and meaning, despite ourselves and even when we take so much for granted. He has no power or wealth or even a sense of self. He depends on others to meet his basic needs. He does not yet know what a parking spot is. Yet he marvels at the world around him, both God-made and man-made.

Life is still beautiful when seen in proper perspective.