What to Be Thankful For? Start With Your Life

Thanksgiving Day, 2011. This holiday, like every holiday, everyone should take a few minutes to reflect on and appreciate what the day stands for.

The first thing that comes to my mind is life. Be thankful that you were born. Especially considering that you had an infinitely remote chance of ever being conceived.

As pointed out here, it’s an amazing feat to be conceived. But once you get that far, you still had to run quite a gauntlet in order to be delivered nine months later. Thirty to fifty percent of embryos are lost early on – often without the mother’s knowledge that she even was briefly pregnant. Of the known pregnancies, some 10 to 20 percent of humans in the womb die due to miscarriage. Of the humans who manage to get past that hurdle, in the United States 1 out of 5 of them are intentionally killed; in Russia more than half of them are. (Can you imagine beating infinite odds to make it so far – so close to being able to experience the world outside of the womb – and then someone cutting short your life?)

So, adding up the above numbers, once you beat the infinitely remote odds of ever being conceived, there was still a 60 to 90 percent chance that you’d die within the next nine months. (Pre-Roe v. Wade you had a 40 to 70 percent chance of dying.)

But in America and other developed countries, once you make it to the delivery room, you’re practically home free. (Of course not everyone is, but statistically, your chances are pretty good.) Thanks to the hard work, intelligence, creativity, and dedication of millions of Americans alive now and who came before us – who helped set up and run a pretty awesome society compared with the rest of the world and compared with the past (especially pre-20th century), your chances of living a full lifespan are pretty high.

Not only that, but there’s a very good chance that you’re in the top 1 percent of the world, income-wise. Even if you’re at the official poverty line in America – which isn’t poverty compared with most other countries and compared with past times (poverty is a relative term) – you’re still in the top 15 percent of the world.

Now that you’re alive and living pretty comfortably – and aware enough to realize how exceedingly low  your chances were of ever being born – savor the moment. To borrow from something I wrote previously,

Feast your eyes on the sky, the grass, the trees, the animals, the people. Listen to the sounds of nature. Feel the breeze on your skin. Or the warmth of the sun. Do it knowing that you were so extremely close to never experiencing any of it at all.

The mundane is the extraordinary – like waking up in the morning, eating breakfast, looking out your window, or driving down your street.  You had an extremely close brush with never existing at all, so you should have a strong thankfulness for life – on this Thanksgiving Day and every day – and live your life with vigor.

Of course, you should be thankful for our tiny corner (or spec on a spec on a spec) of the universe, where our sun got formed, and then our planet got formed, which just happened to be the right size and the right distance from the sun in order to support life. And once that was in place, you should be thankful for everything else that happened astronomically and geologically and biologically in order for humans to get started. (Read the book What if the Moon Didn’t Exist? for examples.) Even thank the asteroid that is said to have wiped out (or contributed to wiping out) the dinosaurs; that paved the way for the rise of the mammals, and then you.

So in considering what to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day, there are an innumerable number of things, and I’m sure you have your own list. But Life is one thing that can go at the top of that list.

Abortion, Infanticide, and Murder

Wow, while reading An Atheist Defends Religion by Bruce Sheiman, I came across this shocking quote by a Princeton professor of – of all things – bioethics, named Peter Singer:

Characteristics like rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings.

No, he wasn’t talking about unborn children. He was talking about born children. He continues,

I suggest that a period of 28 days after birth might be allowed before an infant is accepted as having the same right to life as others.

It’s not clear in the book whether Singer was referring to both severely disabled children and healthy children. But given that I’m sure Singer has no problem with killing healthy unborn children (which is the case with the vast majority of abortions), I assume that his 28-day rule would apply to the healthy as well.

Actually Singer is taking abortion to its logical conclusion. The only difference between a developed fetus and a newborn baby is the breathing apparatus. While in the womb it gets its oxygen via the umbilical cord, and as soon as it’s born it gets its oxygen via the trachea (windpipe).

Biologists – in particular I think it was Jared Diamond – have pointed out that compared with newborns of other animal species, newborn humans are significantly physically underdeveloped, i.e. unable to survive on their own. With many other animal species, by contrast, newborns can walk and do many things to help protect themselves from predators. It is said that the only reason human babies are born at nine months is that otherwise their heads would be too large to pass through the birth canal. So they have to come out much earlier compared with, say, apes. Compared with other animals, therefore, newborn humans – up to age 18 months or so – are essentially fetuses that are living outside the womb.

So in that sense Singer’s willingness to allow newborn humans to be killed is totally consistent with legalized abortion.

And Singer’s 28-day rule is, I’m sure, arbitrary. Why not 30 days? Why not 60? If you take his logic to its logical conclusion, killing a human of any age is consistent with legalized abortion.

And that’s one of the reasons why legalized abortion is so repugnant. Lack of sanctity for unborn human life spills over into lack of sanctity for all human life. And then you have a more violent, amoral society than would otherwise be the case.

To be sure, an argument could be made that abortion could have the ironic effect of reducing the born-human murder rate because many if not most of those having abortions come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds where they’re more likely to give birth to children who gravitate toward crime when they get older, as pointed out in this paper.

But anecdotal evidence (I haven’t found stats yet – not sure if they exist) indicates that murders and massacres committed by middle- and upper-income people have gone up. Those perpetrators definitely don’t have high regard for the sanctity of life. Could abortion have been one of their (many) influences?

Moreover, if you consider killing to be killing whether it applies to the unborn or born, then the murder rate is much higher as a result of legalized abortion.

Abortion in America Leads to Gender Imbalance in Asia

Interesting book review in the WSJ about the surplus of men in developing countries caused by selective abortion against females.

There’s one thing I would add to that. Abortion in the U.S. and Europe exacerbates the dearth of females in Asia.

There’s an absence of adoptable babies in the U.S. and Europe because they’ve all been aborted. So people resort to adopting them from Asia, especially China and Vietnam. The only available babies are girls, because boys are so desired in Asia.

Not only does abortion here lead to kidnappings and a black market of babies in Asia, as detailed in an earlier post, but it results in fewer females in Asia due to adoptions. See the book review on the  consequences of there being too few girls in society.

Therefore, abortion in Asia directly leads to Asia’s gender imbalance. Abortion in America indirectly leads to Asia’s gender imbalance.

Roe vs. Wade’s China Problem

Yet another ill effect of Roe vs. Wade and the abortion industrial complex: kidnapping babies in China.

The thousands of dollars that Americans pay to adopt children from that country have transformed “once-unwanted Chinese girls into valuable commodities worth stealing.”

Americans go abroad to adopt babies because there are so few of them available here in the United States; most unwanted babies are aborted.

Who’d ever have thought that one result of legalized abortion would be child kidnapping rings on the other side of the world?

The Ultimate Machiavellians

Now it’s revealed that people who we thought have been in a permanently unconscious state actually have been conscious the whole time. Such was the case of Rom Houben of Belgium, who couldn’t move or talk ever since a 1983 car accident. Twenty-three years later neurologist Steven Laureys determined that Houben is perfectly conscious after all. He now can communicate with a special computer.

Cases like his may be widespread. And it begs the question: Was Terry Schiavo conscious the whole time? We’ll never know now, since they already pulled the plug on her.

If it was determined that she was indeed conscious, would that have mattered to those, mostly on the left, who so forcefully advocated her death? They’re a pretty Machiavellian bunch; always willing to sacrifice a life, whether it be Terry Schiavo or unborn babies, if it’s for the greater good of society – or at least if it’s for the greater convenience of folks like Michael Schiavo, or of mothers of aborted babies.