Words from a Father

Husband of One, Father of Four

Tag: death

501. Hope Unequaled

Loss of hope is death, no matter how long after. Hope, in itself, is life to the dying and to the living. Hope has no equal in persuading the man, and hopelessness has no equal in his destruction. No passion or truth, no noble lie or self control, no plight for peace or responsibility for justice, nor rejection of oppression or embracing of obeisance are adequate and effective substitutes for hope.

Those hopeful are the strident calm. Those hopeful are the responsibly free. Those hopeful are the logically passionate. Those hopeful are truly alive. And if you are honest about those you admire, you will recognize that those who have hope owe it all to an eternal hope. Hope is either eternal or it is delusory.

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471. Living

Lack of hunger is one of the first signs of death. This is true of physical health, business, life passion, education, personal disciplines, and many other categories.

356. Suggested Films: Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)

Watch the black and white film Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) with José Ferrer in the lead role. It’s a fantastic tale of love and wanting the best for someone else, even if it means not getting something you desire. And the final frame of a life sacrificially given — laying at the foot of a cross while his beloved weeps over him and over her realization of what she has lost — is more than poignant. It harkens to the greater story line, the greater sacrifice, the greater mediator, the greater love.

It is interesting to me how “self-sacrifice for the sake of someone else’s eternal best” is universally honored.

353. Essay: Technology’s Gray Area

It used to be that someone was either dead or alive, no middle ground. Think of ethical problems encountered in the medical field. You’ll quickly notice positive and negative sides to the dilemmas. More importantly you’ll notice that these dilemmas came not from assuming that the natural progression of life and death has its place, but from how technology has created these gray areas in the first place. In its altruistic quest to help, technology has stepped in to bring back from the brink those who have a chance of survival. It has also created entire categories of significant ethical problems.

Neither the benefits nor the dilemmas would exist without technological intervention, but one of my true concerns is that for all the progress made, we are becoming less human.

Short-term Intervention or Long-term Lifestyle?

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a great thing. It is a short-term intervention that gives the injured a fighting chance. Surgeries also are short-term interventions aimed at getting the person back to working order. But what about the body that isn’t fighting, that must stay on a machine that breathes for them?

I have seen a machine that lays down layered cells like bricks to build a 3-D organ, such as a heart. And then the heart contracts, functioning all on its own as it should, so it seems sensible to think we can keep a physical body functioning long after the person is already gone. And this is where most of the ethical issues are encountered. Now that we’ve placed the body on a machine that perpetuates its normal functions, is it right or wrong to take that away? The materialist, meaning the one who does not believe there is a spiritual or metaphysical realm, hangs all hope on sustaining the body. If they are right and there is nothing more than what we see around us, there is no other logical choice but to sacralize the physical universe.

The problem is, there’s only one way to find out whether or not the person is already gone. And it’s irreversible.

Function Versus Life

To me, the presence of the spirit within the person determines whether they are still alive or not; the spirit is the essence of a person. If the spirit is gone, the body still can carry on its functions, but function is not an indicator of life. Function only indicates that the physical body has the ability to continue carrying out the processes it is suited for and has been doing all along. Of course the answer is, “Yes, the body can function as it has been,” because that is precisely the intransitive definition of function: To work or operate in a particular way.

A computer functions, but does not have life. A storm functions, but does not have life. A bypass machine functions, but does not have life. A liver is an organ with a function, but it does not have life. Transplanting an organ does not transplant life; it only grants function to another who is already living. If being alive is not solely due to an organ, it must be due to something else or to several other things. Life is obviously connected to the material world without being inherently bound by function. It seems this distinction between function and life opens the door to deeper questions of the metaphysical.

Material Versus Spiritual

For the materialist, the body becomes sacred because it is all we have. But if the body is incapacitated, what good is it to perpetuate its functions? Like one dealing with numbers rather than human lives, the materialist is left to draw precise lines delineating value from worthlessness in the body’s varying states of function. Historically, governments have stepped in with responses aimed at appeasing the two demi-gods of religious inscrutability and science’s claims, only to produce more ethical dilemmas. Materialism gives no clear answer to what makes us human and what makes us alive.

My Current Thoughts

This is where I presently stand on this issue. The natural progression is from life to death. There may be several short-term interventions — which include surgeries — to give a person a second chance without increasing ethical dilemmas. However, long-term interventions almost always step into the gray. All life is precious, sacred, and valuable. But, believing that there is a spiritual realm as I do, I do not think that this life is all there is or that the body is all we have.

For those believing in a spirit realm, the spiritual life given by God makes the body sacred; all things flow from the primacy of the spirit, which is where the idea of human dignity comes from. Spirit and body together is what makes an individual that person rather than another person, and the presence of a person’s spirit is what I believe makes them alive. It doesn’t make ethical decisions any easier, but you may gain a sense of clarity if they are made with this in mind.

319. Abortion Argument

You can rightly be pro-life as well as for the death penalty because there is a grand difference between the innocent and the guilty.

275. Quotes: Dr. Jack Kevorkian on Himself

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the controversial assisted suicide proponent, in a June 2010 interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta:

“The single worst moment of my life . . . was the moment I was born.”

And,

“I am not ready to die. I have purpose in my life and three missions.”

Notice the two utterly conflicting feelings occurring here. The individual who despises their own existence will also devalue yours while simultaneously trying to justify why they should not yet be the one to die.

273. Quotes: Your Dad on Divorce

“The wounds of divorce don’t kill, they just cut so deeply that everyone bleeds to death.”

—Your Dad

268. Dad’s Quotes: Chivalry’s Death

“The death of chivalry is the result of infected morality.”

—Your Dad

156. Adventure

No person on their deathbed ever regretted the adventures they were able to have, only the ones they were not.

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