Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Is Life Sacred?

If you were to go to most people and ask " Is life sacred?”, I dare say the majority would answer yes. It is when you get into the details that the contradictions arise.
A few years ago there was a group called the Seamless Garment. Their position was that life was sacred, and the only one with any business ending a human life was G-d. The motto was: ”All of life from conception until natural death is a seamless garment.”
They have since changed their name to Consistent Life. Their mission statement is: “We are committed to the protection of life, which is threatened in today's world by war, abortion, poverty, racism, capital punishment and euthanasia. We believe that these issues are linked under a 'consistent ethic of life'. We challenge those working on all or some of these issues to maintain a cooperative spirit of peace, reconciliation, and respect in protecting the unprotected."
A few thoughts come to mind.
The Bible is little help here. While it says, "Thou shalt not kill" on one page, it condones taking "an eye for an eye" on another. Ultimately the Bible is only as good as the person reading it.
The statement that “all life is sacred” is a hypocrite’s playground. I have never met a person who is against all forms of life taking. Many of those who condemn abortion in the strongest "life is sacred" voice are ardent supporters of wars and capital punishment. (I bet more than a few have had abortions).
When I first heard about Seamless Garment, the big four issues were abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, and war. Somewhere or another, poverty and racism were added to the shopping list. To me, this is a mistake. While poverty and racism certainly contribute to early deaths, they are not the instant killers that abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia and war are.
There are some other issues which possibly could be included. This would include murder, suicide, substance abuse, inappropriate medicine, environmental degradation, and unsafe driving. This is not a complete list, and has the potential for going so far as to include most human activities.
Since this is my blog, I feel obligated to share my opinions on the big four. This is going to be the rest of the post. If you skip ahead to the pictures my feelings will not be hurt.
Abortion and War are similar issues. Both are horrible, ghastly events. I have never participated in either, except as a sponsoring taxpayer. In the case of War, there are side effects to a society that wages war, no matter how just. It takes resources away from better uses, is damaging to the economy (except for a handful of profiteers), and is generally bad karma. The same can be said about abortion.
However, I stop short of saying we should never do either. Sometimes War is needed. (Often though, by the time a decision has been made to fight a war, the country has been railroaded into this action.) Sometimes Abortion is an appropriate measure. We need to keep the option open.
Capital Punishment is pretty muddy also. There are some cases where it is appropriate. It is not always used in these cases, and is used at other times when it should not be.
Capital Punishment is strong stuff. It is "Playing G-d". I simply don't think our justice system is fair or wise enough to use this strong medicine in a beneficial manner. We would be better off as a society without it.
Euthanasia is even fuzzier. As medicine advances, we are going to see more people who are technically alive, but unable to "live". Should we off them, or should we leave that to G-d? Could the resources used to keep them "alive" be used more profitably on a person with a chance of a full recovery? Should lawyers and insurance companies make by the family or this decision? On this one, I can say without question that I don't know.
As for Poverty and Racism, I am opposed to both, of course.


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