We should face a huge challenge to the way we think about the significance of life in society, but we don’t. It seems a verboten subject; something we cannot talk about even in social media where many people reveal the most intimate details of their lives with impunity.
Of course, our current thinking is church driven; our society forces the belief on us that life is sacred and we should do everything in our power to preserve it. It is the basis for murder being the one sin common to society. I have blogged about this before under several different headings: abortion, the death penalty, right to life, euthanasia, politics, and evolution. As a biologist, I see examples of survival of the fittest at work in the food chain; big fish eat little fish, little fish eat plankton, and plankton absorb nutrients from their inorganic environment. The church sidesteps harsh biological reality by creating a special moral niche for humans; we are somehow not animals. This interfaced is cultural and is not always as clear as Church leaders would like. We all know that in some societies some animals are sacred while others are not with all kinds of ridiculous mental gyrations in between. For example, it is morally wrong to step on insects, wholesale slaughtering food animals is OK, and only meat available from ritualistic kosher killed of cattle is eatable, and of course vegetarianism are examples.
The murder trial of the man accused of killing the American Sniper is what called this problem to my attention. The defense is insanity; the killer’s defense attorneys claims he did not know what he was dong was wrong at the time he did it. This debate soon turns ugly, but it is verboten to talk about why it is ugly. However, I cannot plug this whole scene, including the debate, into any biological pattern of behavior I know even the axiom of “survival of the fittest”. How can society judge someone who cannot survive in that society innocent of the crime that makes him incompatible with that society then lock him up for life? We do it because our society will not tolerate a person who kills other people. On occasion, I watch a TV program entitled, LOCK UP, (MSNBC). A prison warden, on one of the shows, said 20% of the inmates in his prison were mentally ill. From the video clips of prisoners, it is clear some of these people convicted of murder, often multiple murders, attempt to kill guards, as well as other inmates.
Logically put together the thought that a mentally ill person is in prison while vocal members of society feel that their mental illness is treatable; therefore, it is wrong to execute them or even incarcerate them. If this is true, why then doesn’t our medical community treat and released them from prison. The same is true of mental hospitals. Include old age homes; how do we cure old age? Are these warehouses for those who cannot survive in society because we cannot face the harsh biological reality of survival of the fittest? What should we do about a brain dead person or one with advanced Alzheimer’s disease? Have church leaders with their declaration that life is sacred, meaning only some “God” and give it and take it away, so corrupted our society that we can no longer be reasonable. We as an aging society of 7 billion strong and growing on this little blue earth have to have some serious talks talk about all of these things because if we let it take care of its self it is sure to get ugly.
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