The Drowning Man

The Drowning Man

We all were warned, each of us, you too. As parents, my wife and I told our boys, and Barack and Michelle most likely have told their girls. All kids lucky enough to grow up and become parents will warn their young if they have even the slightest sense of responsibility.

You stay away from the drowning man.

The drowning man isn’t an individual, exactly.

The way I remember things, it was the figure of a man drawn in some first-aid pamphlet of long ago, a dangerous hieroglyph thrashing in the water, threatening those who approached.

The drowning man wasn’t evil. He wasn’t good. There was no history to him.

His dreams and kind acts didn’t matter. His betrayals and bitterness weren’t counted against him. If he had any sins, their residue wasn’t apparent in his expression. There was no face, at least not one with clearly defined features.

Only a head and arms waving in the water, the drowning man going down.

The grown-ups told us that when you’re swimming and you see someone struggling and thrashing, you call for help. You might extend a towel or a shirt as a rope. But you don’t go near, because you might get grabbed.

Panicked, the drowning man wants what all life wants, to continue. He can’t comprehend that he’s pushing you down to push himself up. It’s not his fault. He’s afraid. He’s drowning. He’s dying.

But we’re all dying, aren’t we? And what happens to us, as we take other lives, in order to live?

from “Stem cell policy shift brings a sinking feeling” by John Kass

I don’t tend to blog about politics or controversial issues. Not that I don’t care; but it’s not how I want to use this space and my blogging time. Still, I saw this opinion piece from the Chicago Tribune today and thought it was one of the best responses I’ve read in the embryonic stem cell debates and I wanted to record it for myself, which is one of the reasons I blog.

I’m thinking especially of the extended metaphor presented in the second half of the piece. This image will stick with me. And I like that it’s a secular argument, one that non-religious people may understand. It can be hard for me to make arguments that are not rooted in faith; but it is important to remember that natural law provides a moral case against harvesting embryos as well that can speak to people who do not believe in God.

Unfortunately I lost the original page that linked to this article, but I think it was either linked to by Amy Welborn or by someone in one of her comment boxes.


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