Have you ever reflected on the Holocaust of WWII and wondered how a country of people, not much different than you and I, ever become involved in the extermination of millions of Jews. Part of the answer lies in the fact that people are often bystanders. Writer Paul Hilberg tells us,
Many people . . . saw or heard something of the event. Those of them who lived in Adolf Hitler’s Europe would have described themselves, with few exceptions, as bystanders. They were not “involved,” not willing to hurt the victims and not wishing to be hurt by the perpetrators.read more
In this post, I began by suggesting there was a similarity between the Holocaust of WWII, the killing of unborn by abortion, and now the killing of sick and suffering. I also quoted Martin Luther as an example of following one’s conscience, in spite of great risk of personal harm. Although, I think Martin Luther’s stand against the organized church of his day had merit, I think my choice of examples was poor.read more
Why do I talk about personhood? Personhood has come to be part of the discussion of organ donation, abortion, and euthanasia. Why?
A basic definition of personhood is the state of being a person. This is important because we place special value, along with moral and legal rights and responsibilities, upon persons. So, when we want to attribute rights and responsibilities to certain people, or we want to take rights and responsibilities away from certain people, we can, in our arguments, attempt to show it is right to do so by attributing, or by not attributing, personhood to them.read more
Recently reviewing an essay on Organ Donation which I wrote in 1998, I came across some thoughts on the definition personhood. How a “person” is defined plays a vital role in how we approach things like vital organ donation and assisted death. Our society is rapidly moving to a definition of personhood that connects a person’s intrinsic value to their ability to think. Those with less ability to think are considered to have less value and are more easily deemed expendable.read more