The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Righteousness and Indignation

Freshman Philosophy 101. I remember the first day, walking into class and the professor asking us "Would you, personally, kill a child on national tv, if it meant saving 100,000 people?" Well, my interest was definitely piqued. As a seventeen year old, I simply hadn't had many discussions of this type in my short lifetime. Certainly, none that started with such a controversial premise.

And it is a controversial premise, isn't it? I mean, it would be morally wrong to kill a child (whether or not you did it on national tv). But, wouldn't it be morally wrong to allow 100,000 people to perish, when you had the ability to stop it and didn't? Tricky, tricky stuff for the philosophizers, let alone the common man, as there is no right answer. After a week of discussing the topic, the answer that the majority, eventually, came to agree on was the one that would do the greater good for the greater number.

Now, we didn't hold elections or nominate committees to decide for us. We each had to come to terms with it ourselves. One man/woman. One vote. Twenty something individuals with varying economic backgrounds, different ethnic and cultural histories, numerous religious ideologies.

In the end, it had not been a uninamous decision. I remember one girl becoming so incensed during the debates that we could "even considering killing a child". She was screaming and crying as she begged for the life of the innocent. Of course, none of us thought, for a moment, that it was an easy decision. We all realized there were far-reaching consequences with either option.

Obviously, if we were willing to become a society that would kill a child to save the thousands of lives today, we would have set ourselves on a path that would make it possible...Hell, likely...that we would do it again. Did we really want to become that kind of society? Were we willing to be so callous about killing?

This, in the proverbial nutshell, is how the right views the very controversial subject of Stem Cell Research. At least, that's my understanding, looking at this from a more left-ern view. Embryonic research has been going on for decades, and we're not talking about fetal farming at this point.

I've been watching, with more than a little interest, as Bush has, as he promised, vetoed the recent Stem Cell Research legislation. It has taken me back to my college days. Back to thinking through the moral implications. Remembering that there are so many different viewpoints and that each of them has a voice. Ultimately, realizing that doing what is in the greater good, devoid of religious doctrine not adopted by everyone, if agreed by the majority, is the course we, as a society, must traverse. Understanding the righteous indignation some will feel, but trying to help promote knowledge and hope for the masses through another, albeit curvy, route.

Medical research can move very quickly when unimpeded. All of the research up to this point has shown that there is a vast potential for embryonic stem cells to help hundreds of thousands of people. People with cancer and Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries and diabetes. Diabetics alone, whose ranks have been on a rampant increase in the last ten years, now number at roughly 20 million in this country. They only comprise a part of the group that could be helped by continuing this work.

Please take a minute today and write your congressmen. Check their voting record on this issue. If you don't know how to reach your congressmen, this link will help. Simply put in your zipcode and you will get links to all of your representatives. Urge them to remember that while it is not an easy choice, they are obligated to do what is in the greater good. Don't forget to remind them that your vote is at stake, as well.

Everyone knows someone who could benefit from this research. That is the power we have to wield. Don't let the entropy that we are so often willing to engage diminish that power.

4 Comments:

Blogger Highlander said...

Kill a child on national TV, to save the lives of 100,000 people?

I don't know. Seems to me that's not enough information. Who's the kid? Who are the 100,000 people? What's the situation, exactly? Why is it on national TV? Is someone making money off the deal? Are we setting a precedent? Are the 100,000 people hostages? Are terrorists demanding the death of the child? I'd need to know all that before I could decide. People claim situational ethics is bad, but it strikes me that everything's a situation. You have to go on a case by case basis.

As to stem cells, I've heard all the controversy -- that if we allow this research, pretty soon people will be getting pregnant just to harvest the fetus' stem cells. That we shouldn't in any way, as a culture, allow ourselves to profit from the material consequences of infanticide. I simply reject that argument entirely. The stem cells we have now, if we don't use them to save people's lives, are largely going to be thrown out. It seems a criminal waste to me.

But, you know, I'm an appalling godless liberal, so chances are, I just don't understand.

7/21/2006 5:57 AM  
Blogger SuperFiancee said...

H -

As for my philosophy professor...well...discussing all of the missing pieces was part of the puzzle. He was trying to make us reason out whether or not it mattered if the child had a terminal illness or not, the ethnic origin of the child, whether he/she was a 'bad' child, why national tv (we all presumed so that it was a shame we all shared...or something like that), how the murder would take place (something violent or something more benign), did it matter if someone had other motives (money, etc.) if it saved 100,000 lives? It was an interesting class. One of the most interesting I had in college. The point that I believe he was trying to make was that all of those biases we bring to the table affect the decisions we would make in that (or any other) matter. Those biases affect how we approach everything in life. And, most often, we do it without thinking about it. And, even more often, we think our biases are more important or somehow more valid than someone else's biases. And finally, WHAT MAKES OUR WAY BETTER THAN THEIR WAY? If all you've got is, "because I think it is, or because it's how I was raised", you got nothing.

I remember at one point, he put a time limit on it. Saying that we had to make the decision to do it or not in a certain number of minutes. He was trying to make us understand that, in life, you often are forced to make decisions, one way or the other, without having more information. That sometimes they had very dire consequences. And that you should think about why you are choosing one path or the other, trying not to let emotional issues cloud your logic.

As for stem cells, well, I realize it's an emotional issue for some people. I just have a difficult time overlooking the extraordinary benefits that can be gained by millions of people from this work.

7/21/2006 8:09 AM  
Blogger AaA said...

This is a topic that I believe has been polarized unneccessarily by the right as a way of making it another angle of attack on abortion.

There are plenty of sources of stem cells that are available that don't require anyone to die. Adults even sport some undifferentiated stem cells. I have no problem with using such materials for research, assuming the people they are harvested from are willing donors.

Fetal stem cells are asier to acquire, but not of paramount inportance. And even they can be harvested without killing anyone. You just wait for birth, and take them out of the umbilical.

Now, I don't support using aborted fetal stem cells for these purposes because a) there's no need for them, and b) it's just plain ghoulish. I can't speak for other people, but if I were offered a treatment made available to me by the death of a child, I would have some serious issues with that. Especially if I learned that the child's death was needless.

7/22/2006 3:43 PM  
Blogger ashe said...

it's all about the kamma.

if you kill the child, you get the kamma.

if the child would kill the people, it was thier kamma.

if someone else would kill them, it was still thier kamma.

point being, violence is only a short term solution and will ALWAYS come back to bite you in the ass in the long run.

the only answer is wisdom.

too bad its so elusive.

7/24/2006 11:51 PM  

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