The Culture of Life
To have missed the stories about “the culture of life” recently,
you must have been totally tuned out of the media,
or maybe just in a coma.
The easy story is that the politicians grabbing for ground in their “moral issues” campaigns are all a bunch of hypocrites, whose commitment to the real issues of life and quality of life is just so much polling.
For far too many, the issue will now most probably expire. Recent polls show 4/5 of Americans think Congress should butt out. With numbers like that, they will. After all, there will be a new cause for attacking the judiciary soon. Just wait.
But I am still thinking about life.
Can’t help myself.
Well-known side effect of life as humans, said Descartes.
I am thinking about the piece I read in the NYT about how the roots of the current dilemma are as old as Aristotle and Descartes.
Descartes famously said, “I think, therefore I am.”
The reactionary right has long used this as a basis for arguing against environmental protection. Aside from the obvious heresy of pantheism, that is. Mankind is dominant because mankind can think.
Nature is not because it cannot.
Condundrum: A persistent vegetative state might mean one cannot think, but still we must protect the spark of life in her, so sayeth the Senatorial video doctor in chief—even against her wishes and the wishes of her husband.
I am thinking that if suddenly Aristotle, who argued respect for all life, is the guiding philosopher of our age, George Bush should seek the endorsement of the League of Conservation voters.
I am thinking about how if my 26 years of marriage means anything, it means that my spouse and I have each accepted a responsibility toward each other about life support. We have an oral living will.
We could write it; I am a lawyer, after all. But I am more comfortable relying on my mate’s judgment under whatever the specific circumstances at the specific time. I won’t insult my life partner by taking away that awesome responsibility or pre-judging the decision.
But maybe I better write Congress out of the decision.
I am thinking about a recent study that shows abstinence pledging among teens leads those teens to take more chances with sexual behavior that actual increases risks of sexually transmitted disease.
I am thinking about Hunter S. Thompson deciding for himself about his life.
I am thinking that when I hear that a child prodigy took his own life, that there are reasons why some people no longer want to live. But I wish I could change their minds.
I am thinking about the Iraq body count, and how those bodies don’t seem to count to some of our preservers of life.
I am thinking about the fact that there is a web site named Iraq Body Count.
I am thinking about exactly what life we want to protect
and who can value it best, I guess.
I am thinking about unnoticed death due to poverty.
And whole web pages on poverty in my home state,
full of the documentation of this other kind of death by starvation.
And I thinking about how famine is to some a sign of the end times.
"...there will be famines... " (Mt 24:7)
“A famine is a drastic wide-reaching shortage of food. The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that about 4 million people a year die of starvation, or about 30 people every minute.”
"Some 40,000 hunger-related deaths occur every day, mostly in rural regions," according to World Bank vice president Ismail Serageldin. It is estimated that one third of the world is well-fed, one third is under-fed, and one third is starving. More than 800 million people are chronically undernourished. (WHO)
“Water shortages in parts of the world in the next 25 years will pose the single greatest threat to food production and human health. 1.3 billion people worldwide have no access to clean water. (World Bank)”
“The terrible irony is that the world can produce enough food to feed its expanding population. While some famines are caused by drought or other natural disasters, most starvation in the world today could be avoided were it not for man's selfishness and inhumanity. War, embargoes, government corruption and economic oppression are all symptoms of the real problem. While innocent children starve, some rich nations destroy millions of tons of food in order to keep prices artificially high.”
I am thinking that our family needs to do a lot more thinking about life.
In our new future,
it better be worth more than political grandstanding,
more than increased circulation,
more than the paper the tales are written on,
more than an ephemeral electron dancing on a glass screen.
When I heard about the Red Lake killings
—more violent suicide than murder, really.
I called Oz.
I read him a passage from the New York Times story.
I predicted that it would be the last time these facts were reported.
A seemingly incongruent end to the story that wondered aloud on how it could happen—
“The reservation, with 880 acres, has a population of 5,118, about 40 percent of them living in poverty, according to the 2000 Census. The tribe also includes about 5,000 members living elsewhere.”