Thursday, November 16, 2006

MOre than "natish, brutish and short"

All of this talk about preemie babies and "deformed" (or whatever PC term you'd like to use) kids, and their status, has given way to some deep thinking on my part.

Given my own circumstances, it is hard for me not to be moved to anger/frustration/resentment when I read these articles. So many of them are just poring with condescension and "we know better than you" attitudes. The phrase "Nazi-like" or "Hitler-like" (or their derivitatives) are so often overused today, but in these cases, they ring true. This is precisely what occured during WWII. It is precisely what people said would never occur again, that we have to respect human life and not devalue it to such a base and worthless thing. And yet we do, step by step. And we do it by sugar-coating it in terms like "the dignity of life," "dying with dignity", or that we're "saving" or "preventing" these children from suffering tremendous pain, or from being disabled. We read nice stories in Oprah's magazine about how old, dying women in Oregon get their deadly drugs perscriped by a doctor, filled at the pharmacy, and then just wait for the 'opportune' day to die, because they just can't live like this anymore. In Holland they commit infanticide regularly. Euthanasia on demand is a fact of life. Britain seems to be heading that way now. And in Oregon you can do it. Dr. Kevorkian did it for years before he was sent to jail. What used to be relegated to the Hemlock Society and the fringes of ethical debate is now something that mainstream medical journals (such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the British OB/GYNs talk about quite calmly and rationally. And there isn't any huge backlash. No editorials in the papers denouncing it. No shocked anchors on the news.

Is it because we, as a society, as a people, have become so unused to suffering, to struggle, to really feeling pain, that we can't abide thinking about it at all? Is it because since we know we have the technology to "take care" of these problems we can- and should- use it? I think it's just one more sign of the pervasity of the Culture of Death we are surrounded in. It is almost Darwinian. If you're too slow, too old, too sick, then we don't want you. You serve no purpose for us. But where does that leave us?

I know that suffering is not a picnic. It's not something anyone would wish to undergo. I don't wake up in the morning going, "Yay! How can I suffer today?" It just doesn't happen. But I have never, ever wished I was dead. Or that my parents had killed me when I was born, instead of giving me the rich, full, incredible life I've had. My parents say the same thing (we've discussed this). Have things be hard? Heck, ya! My parents and my siblings and I have done things, learned things, seen things and endured things that most people never will. And yet we are stronger for it. Life is a wonderful gift we cherish.

Think about your life for a minute. Think about the every day existence of it, the great things we take for granted. The first snowfall. Rain int he spring. Flowers blooming. A sunrise. A sunset. Playing with little kids. A baby's smile. Your first kiss. Eating chocolate. :) We are saying that some people are not worth having these experiences. That their lives are too disabled. They won't "Get it." How arrogant is that? Sure, maybe they won't experience it like you. But you know,they probably experience many, many more things on a more profound level than you do. Because they know than any day it could go to Hell. (heck, any hour it could go to Hell) Helen Keller once said something to the effect that the view from the mountain top isn't as rewarding if you haven't gone through any valleys. And she's right.

One of the things that can be gleaned about the value of suffering to the human experience can be seen in literature. In The Little Mermaid , the mermaid wants love so much that she gives up her family, and eventually dies, to become human. She suffers greatly as one, and knows she may, but still becomes human anyway. If you've seen the film The Last Unicorn , you know that the magician turns the unicorn into a woman to save her life and allow her to save her fellow unicorns from the ocean trap they've been placed in. At the end of the movie, she says that she's the only unicorn in the world who has known regret and love. She doesn't regret what happened...she regrets missing her true love, Prince Lear. There are other examples, I'm sure, but this is what I've got right now. (I guess Pinnochio could be an example, too) The human experience is full of love, joy, pain, suffering. The ying and yang of life. Yet we are willing to deny that to some of these. We are killing them, not even giving them a voice, or a chance to experience what we take for granted every day.

When we die, I wonder what these children will say to us? I cannot imagine God is pleased. He has given us this great gift and we treat it so callously, throw it all away. He gives us chances to grow, to become closer to Him. And we deny them. What does that say about our character?

"God loves those to whom he can give more, those who expect more from Him, those who are open, those who sense their need and rely on Him for everything." --Mother Teresa

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