Death, Kass has written, is a blessing. "The finitude of human life is a blessing for every individual, whether he knows it or not."
It is death, Kass might say, that gives urgency to life. It drives us to discovery, to cross oceans and reach into the emptiness of space; it is the reason we squeeze pleasure and meaning from every moment and see beauty in every sunset.
If death is a blessing then why don't we embrace it? Why is life such a desperate enterprise?
The answer is written in our souls. Each of us has only one life -- a gift given by our mothers.
In our birth lies an unwritten pact with our mothers to live with meaning and purpose.
The slope is always slippery. When disease or hardship strikes, we decide as individuals whether to seek life-extending treatment. Taken collectively, these decisions set the course for humanity.
Our collective will to live drives the quest for cures and life-saving technology.
Thus taking advantage of medical breakthroughs affirms our humanity rather than diminishing it.
And I think that is what our mothers expect from us.
May 8, 2004
Individual choices determine humanity's future
Rich Brooks offers a nice Mother's Day critque of Leon Kass's thanatophilia. In his column, Your Mother Should Know: Individual choices determine humanity's future, Brooks writes: