There is one point on which everybody agrees – Life is our greatest gift. Be they atheists, or believers; Christians, Hindus, or Muslims; Western, or Eastern; Capitalist, or Communist, everybody agrees on this.
Recently my wife and me went through a miscarriage. We went to bed one night as expectant parents and woke up the next morning to a nightmare worse than any that I can imagine. I never thought that the loss of a 5 cm collection of cells could make it seem like the end of the world for me. The questions gnaw at you, “What could I have done better?” “What did I do wrong?” The list is endless.
While we went through that, it gave fresh life to something that has always shocked me – how little we actually value the life we have.
To be more precise, how little we value the life someone else has.
What kind of person can sit down at a table and decide that the best statement to make in order to draw attention to HIS cause is by killing a thousand OTHERS?
How uncaring does one have to be to drive rashly and endanger the lives of fellowmen on the road?
How power-hungry must one be to carry out an action or make a statement that is sure to spark religious riots?
How cash-crazy does one have to be to make a substandard product that would endanger the life of the user?
How angry does one have to be to decide that the only way to win an argument is by removing the opposition?
A recent program on the Discovery Channel traced the creation of a baby human. The process is one of those true unfathomable miracles of Nature. We know what happens during the process, but we are yet to figure out why it happens. The entire process is so chance-ridden that it is a miracle that our population grows instead of dwindling.
When this miracle does take place, and all the chances line up properly, a baby is conceived. But that is just the beginning. Two people bound by love of each other, are now bound by the sheer orgasmic pleasure of being in the process of “bringing forth their own”. I will not spend words trying to explain the sheer glory of that moment. No words can ever describe it. Suffice to say that a hundred back-to-back orgasms will not match it.
The couple pour over a hundred books, numerous articles, consult the qualified and unqualified on the subject, all in an attempt to ensure that a healthy child is born.
I think it was in Jeffery Archer’s Kane and Abel that a father first counts the fingers on the child’s hands and feet before doing anything else.
Nine strenuous months later, a child is born. Weak, unable to defend, vulnerable. Society springs into action around it. Walls of defense are put up to give the child a chance at survival.
In an episode of Gilmore Girls you have a father-to-be walking all over the house listing things that might prove dangerous to the soon-to-come baby.
It is a moment of sheer paranoia.
The growth of the child is monitored, plans made and dreams dreamt.
I guess what I am trying to say is that a full grown human very rarely reflects what brought him there. The amount of effort that was required to ensure that he survived long enough to be able to fend for himself.
But all that can be over in a moment. Life is like that crystal jar that sits on a showcase. Protect it all you want, but you know, that all it will take is a moment for it to shatter and be lost forever.
Death is a full stop.
Nobody has proved it otherwise. Talk about the soul and the after-life is all very fine. But death is a full stop.
My fervent wish is that in the world in which my child lives, life will be cherished. Every person will respect the others right to survival. This is the truly basic right. All other rights are derived from this one, because without life there is nothing.
In the years to come, Science may unlock many more secrets of Nature. We may even someday figure out a foolproof way to help couples conceive and carry a child to term. But all that will be of no use, if we do not first respect life itself.
No cause, no amount of money, and certainly no amount of power is worth the life of a single human being.