Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Defining Life

Still friendly...maybe not so much nonsense on this one...

Wasn’t it interesting to see two men in a heated debate in which nothing seemingly was agreeable, agree on a definition of when human life begins?  Yet, both managed to polarize the issue.  One by mandating his definition as law upon the masses, the other proclaiming freedom of action without government intervention.  Well, to a point.

That’s right, I’m talking about the forever litmus test that is abortion, and I am referring to the Vice Presidential candidates’ debate held last week in Kentucky.  Both men, of Catholic faith, agreed that life begins at conception.  Now, I won’t go on some epic ink spill explaining this; one can wiki themselves senseless on the subject.  Needless to say, there are galactic-sized differences of opinion from as many sides that rouse Carl Sagan’s voice to describe.  I don’t exactly wish to announce that I’ve academically researched the issue; that would appear rather macabre.  It may be close to Halloween, but…
I am somewhat of the curious sort, and had a look around the world for commonality.  And, surprisingly, I found it.

In all of the opinions, from various legal systems, religions, special interest groups, medical communities, and so forth, they all gave lengthy exposés attempting to define their position.  “Life begins at conception”, “life begins once the genetic code is complete”, or, to get graphically technical, “when the head of the fetus breaks the vaginal wall threshold and…”.  Well, hopefully you aren’t reading this while trying to eat your lunch.  None of these opinions, however, explained their reasoning utilizing the other side of the coin—death.

Death is so much easier to define, and it’s pretty much universally agreed when someone dies.  Brain inactive?  Dead.  No pulse?  Dead…or very soon dead.  Not breathing?  Dead.  So, why not define life as a comparison to death?  Seems logical to me.

Let’s see how that works if we use the above examples that attempt to define life.  “Once the genetic code is complete.”  Well, your genetic code survives long after you’re dead, but that means you’re not alive.  “Once past the vaginal wall…”  Okay.  I suppose the antithesis event would be actual burial or a trip through the local crematorium?  You’re dead before that happens.  At least, usually dead.  And what about conception?  That’s a good one because it’s subjective.

Life beginning at conception works for so many because it’s the beginning of a process.  The prospective entity begins the minds of the conceivers as a hope, or perhaps a dream, or simply a goal.  For them, that life began as part of a master plan and subsequent execution of an action.  But what about those careless folks who made the grand mistake?  They began the process unintentionally.  It’s the same process, but the goal was completely different.  Life did not begin because the conceivers gave it no consideration.  This is a rather complicated subject to express, but I will attempt the most laconic explanation possible.

For those wishing to produce a child, life began with the consummation of their plan.

The memory started precisely at that point.  As well in death, no one is truly dead until they are forgotten.  And yet, they are very much dead, clinically.  I don’t see how the proponents of the conception concept can have it both ways.  If “life” begins at the point of conception, death, in their eyes, only happens once the memory is consigned to oblivion.  Or, is everyone confusing “life” with “alive”?  I don’t think the conception camp believes both conditions must exist to support their opinion, so how do we arrive at an acceptable legal solution?  

I suppose that’s what makes this subject such an enduring sphinx.  For those that think of life in the adjective term, it begins with the mere thought of it.  For those that think in terms of clinical existence—the noun—life begins when one is physically alive.  And to me, someone is alive when they aren’t completely dead.  (Yes, I hear Billy Crystal’s voice too)

Okay, so maybe “life” is easy to determine for the at-conception demographic.  The next hurdle is the definition for the clinical types.  Is it:  The moment chemicals exchange?  The moment of birth?  The first heartbeat?  The completed genetic code?  Head past the threshold?  Honestly, is it really that complicated?  Take the concepts away and you get back to the alive-if-not-dead determinant.  You are not alive just after your parents had sex.  You are not alive for a few weeks after.  With a certain degree of fortune, you are most certainly alive after birth.  Are you alive before birth, however?  Theoretically, and in millions of cases, you are alive in your mother’s womb and could possibly survive after premature extraction.  (We won’t get into those reasons).  Clinically, the real question is, at what point are you on your own as a live person?  To me, that’s the point you pump your own blood—that first heartbeat.  You are no longer a tiny malignant or benign mass; you are a functioning being in your mother’s care.

Now, don’t go off thinking that I’ve made some sort of stance on the act of abortion, I haven’t yet.

The vast majority, including the majority of pro-lifer’s, agree that the abortion is warranted in cases of rape, incest, and in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.  By “life” in this context, I mean the noun version.  Incest, well, for the sake of debate I suppose they mean "unwanted" or otherwise "statutorily violating" incest.  I believe those still constitute rape since, technically, some incest is legal in certain states (Eww, New Jersey!).  Dear, dear…now Google’s got an entry on me looking that up.  Nice.  Well, at least there is a consensus for extreme circumstances.  It’s the consensual mistakes that are the problem.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where personal philosophy enters the stage.  The bottom line is that there are two bottom lines.  The first entails your belief on when life begins.  The second is when you believe government should intervene, if at all.  This part also covers parental disclosure, consent, and involvement—another social imbroglio.   

Me?  I believe the first part will remain the societal Dichotomous Rex, but I get back to that tiny heartbeat. Regarding the second on government intervention, last I heard, this was a free country.  Sadly, I hear that phrase a lot less.  Seems to me our little angels, including all their problems, are ours until the age of 18.  Some Uncle Sam’s all right with me.  Keep the Nanny Samantha, okay?

Think I’ll have a 17oz soda now…

Break for Work

The training workouts on the run-up to begin writing a certain sequel is in full swing.  What’s this?  I’ve found it a good idea to read a small book stack, write a few short pieces, and read another stack before any real writing begins.  Ideas float, pinpoint diligence occurs, outline bullets shot and so forth.  This author will be taking an extended break from this blog to concentrate on those efforts—elasticize the mind.  I may run another piece around the holidays if some random thought occurs with enough juice to warrant the eenk.  (May I invent a word for electronic ink?).  Please check Facebook for updates and assorted minutia.

A Scary Promo!

Remember those free DUST e-book giveaways?  Since they were wildly successful, I am running another.  Get your FREE copy of DUST for Amazon’s Kindle all day HALLOWEEN (10/31/12).

T. Nelson Taylor | Official Site | DusT | Bolita