This is an article about life that may contain some controversy.
| "LIFE UNWORTHY OF LIFE" was the well turned phrase of the Nazi euthanasia program wherein they would determine which people within the German Reich contributed to the strength and well-being of the state. Those within institutions for the mentally ill, the incurably sick and deformed, and anyone else deemed a drain on the resources of the state were systematically put to death. These "useless eaters" as they were called had no status in the burgeoning thousand year Reich.
Now, if taken at face value, the logic of such thinking is difficult to deny. What is little known by people in today's United States, is that, at the same time the Nazis were enacting their racial and eugenically based laws, the United States of the twenties and thirties were moving in the same basic direction. In fact, the United States had established sterilization laws long before Germany. Whereas, in the U.S., although we didn't euthanize those we considered useless eaters, we did stare into that very same abyss. Eugenics proponents in the U.S. did not believe that American citizens would support such a radical policy as government supported euthanasia of the incurable. However, it is quite amazing to find that the Nazi Reich did so applaud what they considered such noble work done by American scientist that they set out to mimic those efforts to a horrifying degree. But one does wonder if we might have taken the same path had our programs been so adroitly and powerfully propagandized. Would this nation have be en convinced to murder its useless eaters. We will never know, but what is known is that we came within one turn of the screw.
And now we do but turn another page to yet another question lending itself to analogous comparisons. What indeed is a life worthy of life? Some would protest at the very question itself, insisting that every life is a worthy life, without the slightest consideration of its state of being. Proponents of this thought discipline might bring forth examples such as Helen Keller as a most sterling example. Born deaf, mute, and blind, Keller would most certainly have been considered by the Nazis, a useless eater. We know from history, of course, that such would have been a completely inaccurate assessment of Keller's worth. And so has it been proven time and time again; from the abortion clinic to the classroom, those considered on the fringe of social value have proven their assessors as wholly lacking in insight.
But we should at once realize that there are to entirely different conceptualizations working here. If one views mankind through the lens of Darwinian thought, or, Social Darwinism, you can only conclude that man stands on the highest rung of the evolutionary ladder. In other words, man is a high level of animal - nothing more, nothing less. This is the quintessential Darwinian World View. Within this school of thought there exist the constant struggle for survival. Most succinctly put, the weak must be eliminated in order that the superior might survive. This would mean that those deemed unfit are not worthy of life in that they cannot contribute to the success of the race community. They are judged as physical and financial weights around the necks of the community. This being the case, they must be eliminated that the body as a whole may be strong. But, having painted such a dire future for the weak and in - firmed, there is one point that must be made. Not all assessed as unfit in such a society are judged by the same criteria. Many men, women, and children found to possess undesirable genetic traits are simply denied the freedom to reproduce. Through state sanctioned sterilization these individuals were barred from passing on their corrupted genes to their progeny. This is exactly what happened to many thousands of people in the United States in the early days of the Eugenics movement. Of course, this no longer is a legal practice. I guess you could say that we have evolved, although this evolution May not be entirely what it seems to be.
And now, let us view the sociological landscape through yet another lens. This view reveals what we could call The Divinity of man. Adherents of this view see all of mankind as a divine creation and with all due dignity belonging to that status. In short, all men have a God given dignity and a right to life. This being the case, you do not eliminate children or adults because of physical or mental abnormalities. This would include the unborn who are human beings from the moment of conception. And, although this writer has determined to remain an objective observer of this social landscape, there does seem to exist a most glaring double standard as there are those, who, while touting the rights of man, routinely probe within their wombs to detect any latent birth defects in order to determine an advantageous course of action (advantageous for them) which may result in the termination of an unborn child.
It is most important to note, that, today, as in the past, many thousand of parents have done exceptionally well at raising children with birth defects - even of the most debilitating nature. Many of these children who might have been aborted or become statistics of euthanasia have flourished by becoming amazing examples of success. And, in a most ironic twist, they have often left a more lasting impact on the world than that of their well-born fellows.
Therefore, having somewhat established those two schools of thought, let us examine the elements that would constitute a well-lived, or, dare we say, worthy life. In any attempt to define such a life we can only imagine that a life considered well-lived would utilize all existing benefits that come with being alive in the first place. It is difficult to consider such without giving some credence to those who consider life as a wonderful gift of God. In this thinking, life was created to be strong and resilient, while remaining infinitely fragile. It should go without saying that, life, in its beginning, duration, and end is surely the greatest mystery of the universe. As human beings with very definite limits placed upon our understanding, we are left with the challenge of doing what we can with what we have been given. The question then becomes, how many know how to do what they should with what they have? How many men know how to live?
It would most certainly seem as we observe the uncertain and chaotic tundra of our culture that so many of our fellow men have little to no understanding of the true essence of a good and satisfying life. And, of course, Many will respond that beauty - or in this case - satisfying living is purely in the eyes of the beholder. If people wish to live degraded, indolent, and useless lives, some May say, is, after all, their choice. This type of thinking is less than unintelligent. Does any man or woman truly choose to sleep wrapped in a cardboard box in twenty five degree weather? But, then again, some May choose just that. Who can say what the fevered minds of those who may be suffering from mental illness May choose. It does seem unwise, however, to say that if that is what they want then they should be free to do. This would be dismissively simplistic.
So, what does a good and satisfying life consist of? 1. There exist a common sense of love and respect for all life - both human and animal. 2. There exist the ability and willingness to commit. Commitment, in its most technical sense, involves the state of being emotionally or intellectually devoted to a belief, course of action, or person. How many times have you heard of men or women who found it difficult or impossible to commit to their relationship. 3. There is also the element of passion in a life well-lived. The passion we speak of is one of enthusiasm to what or whom one believes in. Obviously, passion is one of those things that can either be destructive or constructive. 4. Learning from our mistakes is yet another ingredient of a satisfying life. Failure in achieving a life well-lived is not brought about by making a hundred mistakes, but rather, by making those destructive ones over and over again. Yet another rung in the ladder of a life well-lived is that of motivation. Those who would find some modicum of success in life must be motivated to achieve that success. And when we speak of success it is not that success that is displayed in expensive homes with finely manicured lawns, expensive clothes or the most accoutred vehicles. The motivation of which we speak brings a peace and satisfying contentment. Without such, life can be simply a facade, lacking meaning and purpose.
In conclusion, we must take very seriously those who live derelict and unproductive lives. Their apathy will most certainly affect the whole of society sooner or later. In fact, society is being affected now and has been slowly torn asunder for decades. Each and every day you see those who live shoddy and worthless lives. They will not work because it is more lucrative to stand and beg at the interstate off ramp. This is no secret. All of society witnesses these scenes every day. These "useless eaters" have made a career of living off of the toil of others. They lack even the most minute vestige of motivation. Notwithstanding the fact that they are fellow human beings, they shuffle through their lives as seemingly useless creatures, encumbering the very space they inhabit. They do appear to have earned the infamous moniker of "useless eaters". And yes, it is understood that not all who appear to live wasted lives have come to that place of their own choosing. Many of these have suffered tragic circumstances outside of their direct control. They are simply decent people finding themselves within circumstances they would gladly escape if they could. We should do our best to decern who they are and reach out them as best we can.
Finally, and we should make no mistake about this, there is, indeed, a basic standard of decent and productive living. To believe otherwise is to propose that laws be shredded and cast to the winds. All men have the basic responsibility to live their lives to the betterment of society and their fellowmen. William James wrote: "The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it." In consideration of that statement, one cannot help but think of the future, for the future will outlast us all. With that in mind, it should be elementary to consider those that will live in that future as our responsibility, for how we live now will have a decided impact upon them. Whether it be our children or their children, their future will be molded by the legacy we leave behind. Puritan, Robert Bolton, writes: "Personal goodness is a good means to bring safety, honor, and many comfortable blessings upon our posterity." What greater gift could we give to those we leave behind.