2009-10-18

True Dignity for Those Whose Lives are Interrupted

Many people have said biostasis and cryopreservation do not show the proper respect for the dead. For them, all cryopreservation techniques are inherently violations of the body. And in saying so, these people echo the benighted attitudes people once held towards anatomical dissection, surgery, and organ transplants.
 
Human dignity, they would argue, requires us to do as we have always done, especially with the dead. Even though we all know the horrible, and pointless, atrocities that are committed against the human body by funeral home embalming, still, it is the tradition, and so it is not questioned. Only thoughtless tradition gives the deceased the proper dignity? When we truly love someone, we should want them to live.
 
As Jesus of Nazareth said, "Let the dead bury the dead." And I would say, let the living save the living.
 
The greatest respect we should show to someone who is dying is to help them to overcome death by preserving their potential for life, and we can do this only by preserving their body, which contains the support for their soul. It is not respect to destroy someone's body and soul by embalming or burial or cremation.
 
This is what some people would consider dignity - burying their friends and family in the ground, like burying excrement in a latrine. This is how a cat buries its feces - it scratches a hole in the dirt, lays its feces there, and then covers it over. This is how people have been treated until now – like feces! Some people burn the bodies of the dead, incinerating people like trash and scattering the dusty refuse around. Is this dignity? Treating people like garbage and excrement?
 
This is what superstition, ignorance, and mindless tradition have led us to -- contempt and disregard for human beings, and destroying those who can be saved. Our loved ones' bodies, immediately after they fail, are still potentially alive; their bodies still contain the essence of what they were. To allow superstitious fears about death and taboos about the dead body distract us from saving worthy human beings - this would be the true violation of those human beings' actual worth, their real dignity. We need to love with informed love. We cannot "take out the trash" anymore!
 
True dignity arises from understanding and faith and love. True regard for the dignity of human beings calls us to acts expressing faith in life and the future of humanity. It is, ultimately, hope for actual resurrection, here and real. True, brave, and informed love requires us to carefully preserve the body and soul and keep them until they will be brought back to life.

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