The circle of life is a phenomenon most everyone who eats understands. The live eat the dead, even if someone else kills it, and life continues on its merry way. Eventually, the live become the dead, and another eats them. (Please refrain from reanimation scenarios, at least for now.) In an ongoing struggle to prove sentient species are superior to all others, the human race assigns human characteristics to other animals. What is odd? They do not do the same to humans.
Not For Me
Have you ever looked into someone’s window and thought, There is no way I could walk a mile in their shoes, much less live like that permanently.? Chances are good you have thought it at least once. Whether the person was holding on through heartache, physical pain or alternative living conditions, you knew you did not have the patience, tolerance or wherewithal to survive under those circumstances.
Likewise, chances are good you have thought it about groups of people. Was it disastrous weather, famine, abject poverty or epidemic disease? Although we have our own brand of suffering, we still have the ability to know our limitations for strife.
At some point, which is different for every person, we deem life not worth living. Some people take the bull by the horns and kill themselves. Others take the painful choice away from those who love them by executing a living will and a DNR. There are many who never decide what that point is for themselves, leaving family or the court to decide when life is no longer viable.
Without definitive choices, we are left to guess:
- The level of the pain
- The tolerance to the pain
- The probability to overcome the pain
Why? When we see an animal who is suffering from disease or injury, we are quick to put it out of its misery. We call it the humane thing to do. Why are we not so with humans who are clearly suffering?
The answer is not so difficult. Sanctity is:
1. : holiness of life and character : godliness
2 a : the quality or state of being holy or sacred : inviolability
b plural : sacred objects, obligations, or rights
Since sanctity is clearly a religious concept, even though not ascribed to any particular religion, to meddle with it would seem to be taboo, as we mere humans are certainly not deities. We view making such decisions for others as “playing god”.
If life is holy and inviolable, why do we constantly tinker with it? Have you ever done any of the following?
- Whitened your teeth or gotten dentures, caps or fillings
- Had surgery
- Gotten stitches to heal a wound
- Been to a therapy session
- Changed your appearance (weight, plastic surgery, piercing)
Not an exhaustive list, still each of these things are tinkering with life. Each changes the body housing the soul, the sentience, the person. Even the cosmetic things we do alleviate the pressure of societal judgment and provide penance for self-incrimination.
If life was inviolable, we would do none of these things; life would be perfect as it is delivered.
Why do we do them? To make life better, more bearable, longer. We do them to assuage our personal brand of suffering. Why do we geese then point at the gander as an abomination when he chooses to end the life no longer worth the effort of attempting to make better, more bearable, longer? Why do we choose to sanctify such life and demand suffering continue?
Love never wishes harm on another. When we say we love someone, yet refuse to accept circumstances may be unbearable, we are being selfish to impose our wishes of longevity on them. Worse still, we impose our beliefs on someone not inclined to believe as we do.
Have we all come to believe the television version of the Hippocratic oath? Would you be surprised to know it says it will not invade the body even when disease is known, not even for bladder stones – the longest-recorded surgery known to modern medicine? Why do we believe living is inviolate?
Our history proves we do not believe life is inviolable. For millennia humans have gone to war for this god or this political tour du jour or this narcissist or this need of land/resources/port access to make life better.
Let that sink in for one full minute. We choose to end life in order to make life better for those who remain living. Are we callous enough to think this is different than choosing to end one life merely because we do not know the identity of the masses we send to slaughter? Or do we simply not take responsibility for those who act in our stead to make such decisions?
Ever disrespected your parent or an authority figure? Yet another example of life failing to be inviolable. What of those who benefit on the backs of the sacrifice of others? That infringement of enjoyment, health and stability of those who sacrifice is the violable life, specifically not sanctity.
If we stick to the part of the Declaration of Geneva (current incarnation of the Hippocratic Oath), I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, how can any of us choose to prolong the suffering of anyone else? Were we as holy as we masquerade, we would allow death as the rite of passage it is, even if we cannot agree on passage to what.
What makes us believe in the sanctity of life? Do you believe your life is inviolable? Do you know where your point is?
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© Red Dwyer 2014
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