Existence goes beyond the abortion debate
February 19, 2009
In the last two weeks, I read two Student Voice editorials on the subject of abortion. Both were interesting and well-written; both also made some generalizations that were less than fair. A pro-choice writer alleged that her opponents were really “anti-choice,” caring too much about the unborn and not enough about adults. The pro-life writer argued (correctly) that her movement sought to take care of pregnant mothers as well. She concluded that pro-life people were just trying to “put HUMAN LIFE back where it belongs, in the hands of GOD”-and for me, that brought up a larger issue.
I do not think that I (or any of us) exist because a mysterious deity decided it. I think we exist because one day, a number of years ago, our parents had sexual intercourse. Period. There’s not much evidence for anything beyond that certainty. A child’s life is in the hands of its parents. How they take care of it is their decision, regardless of what our feelings might be. Personally I dislike abortion and think it should be only a last resort, but I don’t impose those beliefs on anyone else.
Furthermore, who or what is God? Where did he come from? Why did he create us? Why does he exist? Why does he need to exist? And if he does, why aren’t we born knowing it? The man himself has not dropped by my house to answer those questions for me, and until he does I’ll have to go by my own experience. It tells me that my life is my own, and I want to make something of it not because God is watching, but because maybe no god is watching.
When we move past the faade of religious argument, things get a bit more philosophical. So let’s ask ourselves, “what makes life special in the first place?” It’s special to us, yes. But what about in the grand scheme of things? A lot of us just assume that life must be sacred, or we wouldn’t hold onto it so dearly-but that’s pretty much a universal instinct.
Life is everywhere, constantly replacing itself. Deep down inside we know that if we died tomorrow, the planet wouldn’t notice. We want to believe that we have some powerful, invisible force on our side that does notice, and can give us another life after this one. But I believe this is wishful thinking on a grand scale.
Besides, what do we mean when we say life is sacred? Are we talking about all life on the earth? There are many forms of life that most people don’t consider special at all, like insects, livestock, poultry, game animals and germs. We kill them all the time and lose no sleep over it, because we assume our existence is more important-but is it really? And where is the proof?
Many of us will say all human life is sacred. Even that can be tricky. Was Saddam Hussein’s life sacred? How about Hitler, Stalin, bin Laden, Vlad the Impaler, Jack the Ripper or Emperor Caligula? Were their lives as valuable as anyone else’s, and if not, why? I say that either all life is sacred or none of it is-and I lean toward the second one.
My point here is that we should cherish life, but there doesn’t have to be some divine will behind it. For all intents and purposes, our lives are in our hands.