Archive for October 7th, 2006

Guestpost by Lady Penelope of Fat Jerry.

My apologies to Touchstone and everyone; I was supposed to fill in on Thursday, but on Wednesday night when I would have been writing that post I was at a veterinary hospital, discovering that my cat has a tumor, talking about things like cell extraction and metastasis and biopsy and other unwelcome words. And then I just forgot. The world spinning around my cat fell out of focus for awhile. And this morning I thought, suddenly, “Thursday!”

So I’m late.

I won’t go on about my cat, quite, because I already did, extensively, but something that has occurred to me over the past three days is that, while the duty of protecting a pet’s life has always seemed to me an awesomely large responsibility, it’s a raindrop next to the charge of managing her death. The value of life is not lost on me right now. I get it.

I won’t be the first to say that we treat dying pets better than dying humans, I know. But there it is. To value life as an absolute though, as an abstract, as good in and of itself, as once and always equal, is to lose sight entirely of what it is. “I think, therefore I am.” To be alive is to be an individual. The essence of life is what separates us from automatons: not the variations in appearance but the capability of making choices, following different paths. Otherwise, we might just as well be widgets. Emotionally, we evaluate the worth of other species’ lives based on their capability of making choices as well: dogs appear at least to be capable of more nuanced choices than fish.

And so when we speak of a Culture of Life, one ought to take into account that one size can not fit all in this debate. Culture of Life enthusiasts–some anyway–already do this: lives would be saved if teens received HPV vaccines, but what of the resulting promiscuity? Lives would be saved if stem cell research were encouraged, but what of the aborted, unusable ova? Lives would be, well, saved in a way if homosexuals could adopt, but then we’d raise more democrats.

Even Culture of Life enthusiasts occasionally choose death.

I think we should take a closer look at the words “Culture of Life.” I think we should usurp them. We should advocate a culture in which individual lives are nurtured and valued, in which our biological variations are not suppressed, in which dignity is granted from start to finish. Kevorkian might be the showiest euthanasist, but he is hardly the only one.

We should really start taking the moral high ground.

The easiest thing to do is to value life unquestioningly. The hardest thing to do is approach life with compassion, mercy. It is an awfully hard thing to let go, to say this life, this individual life, this life that is so unique and unlike any other life before or after it, completely irreplaceable, this one cannot continue. This cannot be healed. My cat is at this very moment receiving her first chemotherapy treatment. I am not entirely sure I am doing the right thing.

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