According to an article posted on 3/9, it looks like our new president has fully backed the embryonic stem cell research program that has been the source of a good deal of controversy for some years now. While I have my own reservations about this type of research from a Christian perspective, there is something else that concerns me, as well.
I wasn’t born yesterday and I am not naïve enough to think that one can please everybody. However, in this particular case, I think that more effort could have been made to prevent stepping on the sensitivities of so many people who are vehemently opposed to embryonic stem cell research.
Yes, I understand that most people in opposition to this have a “religious” agenda. (Incidentally, I really hate the word “religious” or “religion.” The term is overused and can have so many vastly different meanings, but I couldn’t think of another word on short notice.) But aside from that fact, there are other things to be considered here.
First of all, as people look to find cures for currently incurable diseases and/or conditions (an admirable goal, I wholeheartedly agree) I wonder about the number of people who have had such a tremendous impact on other people’s lives as they faced such challenges, met them head-on, and went on to inspire countless others when it comes to overcoming adversity. If we find cures for all these things, what happens to those people who overcome such things to inspire the rest of us?
Secondly, my concern is that if we do find cures using this “technology,” we will stop looking for alternative cures that don’t involve such controversial methods as sacrificing viable embryos. Once a cure is found this way, a great deal of the motivation is lost to find another way.
I can’t help but think about how Henry Ford kept insisting that his engineers develop a V8 combustion engine. Regardless of how many times they came to him and told him that it was impossible, he never accepted that answer. Finally, the engineers figured out how to do it. Ford knew all along that it could be done and wouldn’t settle for less.
Another thing that is clear to me is the fact I am not emotionally involved in this debate because I do not suffer from any of the medical conditions that are prompting this research. Nor are my family members (though I have lost family members to cancer…but I don’t currently have that situation). So I understand that there are others out there who have loved ones or are themselves fighting some condition that could potentially be resolved.
Certainly, as a Christian, I must be sensitive to those people. Of course I don’t want those people to suffer needlessly. I don’t want parents to lose their children to cancer, AIDS, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, polio or any other disease or condition that causes people to suffer or even die. I would never wish those things on anyone.
At the same time, again realizing that it’s probably much easier for me to say since I don’t directly deal with it, I can’t help but feel that we’ll be losing a lot of what makes us stronger by “fixing” these “problems.”
Who, then, will help inspire people to overcome adversity? Who will show us how small our own problems are in comparison to theirs? Who will motivate the rest of us to learn compassion, resiliance, gratitude, etc? Not to mention the person growth of those individuals who have, themselves, overcome these challenges and have actually benefited from them.
To someone dealing with these issues, or who has a loved one who is dealing with them, my guess is that this sounds very selfish. Perhaps, to a certain extent, it is. I can see how it would look selfish to say, “Let someone else suffer so that the rest of us can learn a lesson.”
While that way of putting it may come pretty close to what I’m saying, it doesn’t seem to communicate the compassion that I feel. In writing on this topic, I utterly fail to know how to communicate the compassion that I do feel as it seems to be overwhelmed by my own opposition this research.
And so, the dilemma remains unsolved. Do we continue on destroying embryos that otherwise could have made other positive impact in the world (perhaps even the very cures we seek)? Or do we prolong suffering and continue to search for the answers another way?
Neither question seems to have an easy answer. My guess is, those directly affected will support this avenue of research and those opposed probably are not directly affected. I suppose I would like to hear, if possible, from someone who is directly affected by one of these conditions and yet opposes this type of research.
If you oppose embryonic stem cell research even though you or someone you love is suffering from something that could potentially be cured from it, please share your thoughts and your perspective with us. Perhaps your insight could help others who struggle with what is the right thing to do.
Grace, love and peace.