The Tree of Life

A sapling is a living thing. With just a few short weeks inside the belly of Mother Earth, the little sprout may not look much like its parent tree, but there is no doubt that this little bud is a living thing. The sapling has a genetic configuration that makes it distinctly a plant; it is also growing and forming, even journeying towards death. There is no question as to whether the sapling is alive or not, it is another question entirely whether you wish for it to continue on, or if you even found plants of any value. I suppose I would understand, had the sapling in question, been discovered growing out from the floorboards of your bedroom, that you might pluck it out quite speedily, for no other reason than it was alive and you wanted the destructive intruder dead. But on the other hand, had this sapling been found on Neptune or some other distant planet, it would be a cause for celebration – a birthday of sorts – again, because it was alive, and life had been discovered. But there is peculiarity in another circumstance in which this little bud would be killed, in its original context, even with waves of support, and not by a cautious homeowner, but by a trained professional; and not because it was alive and one wanted it dead, but because one simply wanted the thing gone from their property so that they could do and go on as they wished.

Perhaps another example will do. We might consider a fetus: with just a few short weeks inside the womb of its mother, though the fetus looks more like a space alien than its parents, there is no doubt that this blob is a living thing. This fetus has a genetic configuration that makes it distinctly a human; it is also growing and forming, even journeying towards death. There is no question as to whether the fetus is alive or not, it is another question entirely whether you wish for it continue on, or if you even found human beings of any value. I suppose I would understand, had the fetus in question, been discovered crawling out from under the bed as you slept, that you would squash it with a boot, for no other reason than it was alive and you wanted the frightful thing dead. But on the other hand, had this fetus been found on Neptune or some other distant planet, it would be a cause for celebration – even a birthday of sorts – again, because it was alive, and life had been discovered. But there is peculiarity in another circumstance in which this little blob would be killed, in its original context, even with waves of support, and not by any boot-wielding, terror-stricken homeowner in the middle of the night, but by a trained professional in the middle of the day; and not because it was alive and one wanted it dead, but because one simply did not want the thing to live.

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