Monday, September 17, 2018

Necessary Lies

Months ago I listened to a podcast where the topic discussed was, "Necessary Lies of Civilization."  The idea is that we collectively and subconsciously agree that society is better off if we tell ourselves, and each other, that certain things are true, when they are not.  We lie to ourselves.  Lies like, "Crime never pays."  Lies like, "Hard work pays off."  It can, and often does, but there are certainly people who work harder than I who are worse off; and many better off who work less hard.  Hard work is one factor; one resource.  But what kind of message is that?  Since then I've kept my eyes open for these lies as one more veil to lift to see the world as it really is.  That led me down a really unexpected path.

Start with all American adults who are of sound mind who have formed an opinion about when a person becomes a person.  I'm ignoring everyone who has not formed an opinion.  I'm ignoring everyone who is repeating what their religion tells them.  Look at everyone who has used logic to determine when they believe a person becomes a person.  It seems to me something like 99% would agree that a person become a person at birth.  Does this make sense?

It never has to me.  Imagine explaining to a robot that this adult human is a person, and that adult pig is not.  You could easily point to a superior intelligence, abstract thinking, an appreciation of art...  This would not be a hard task.  But that robot would immediately use your criteria to determine a new born baby is not a person.  So you'd add, "And everyone who can be expected to develop these traits."  Great, but now the robot would tell you that any unborn human is a person.

What I'm getting at is, how does anyone use logic to determine that a person become a person at birth?  And it finally hit me, they don't.

There is a huge cost to placing that point of demarcation at any point after birth.  There is a huge cost to saying, "these humans are people, but these humans are not people."  I think every atrocity in human history has started with that idea.  And there is a huge cost to putting that point before birth.  Pregnancy has huge costs.  Financial, of course, but the cost of time, and effort; the effects on a person's body and life.

So the majority of people tell that lie, but it is a lie.  If a new born baby is a person, then he or she was a person ten minutes earlier.  And if its not its not.  And I get it.  We tell ourselves each life is priceless, but that's just one more lie.  We all decide how much we are willing to give up for our safety, the safety of the people we love, and the safety of people we will never meet.  This isn't a call for action, if anything it's a call for transparency.

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