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The value of a life

FeaturesThe value of a life

Forensic scientists in Italy, with the help of scientists from all over, have discovered skeletal remains of victims of the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 A.D. At first, they were skeptical of the fact that they would be able to retrieve DNA from those bones, because of the extreme heat of the lava that covered Pompeii and Herculaneum! Well, happy to report that, because the skeletons were so well preserved in the enamel-like lava, they not only extracted the DNA from a male in his forties but also from an elderly woman who perished in that powerful, natural, and very deadly disaster. The male had tuberculosis and was too impaired to try to escape, probably bedridden; the female had arthritis and was not ambulatory. This was almost 2,000 years ago, and yet they could solve the puzzle with detailed accuracy! They also figured out, because of the location in which they were found, that they were working-class Romans! It is indeed amazing, how much science and technology has advanced, just in the last 50 years. There are hardly any mysteries left in our part of the universe that cannot be explained away through scientific research!

I remember as a little boy, growing up in the 50s, spending time in the country with my grandparents, Crooked Tree, to be exact. Sometimes I would accompany my grandmother to a “setup.” That’s when a sick or elderly person was supposed to be dying, and all the ladies, mostly of the village, would go and sit around the bed and chat and sing hymns, waiting for the person to die, late into the nights. At times that person would be chatting with them, or eating something, and even in my innocence, I wondered how that was possible. But yes, there were no doctors around, so whether it was stoppage of water (prostate), or pneumonia or whatever, they were just waiting round to die. And death was a big deal, still a mystery, back then.

Today, death is just something that happens to anyone at anytime! There are no more surprises and wonder and awe about dying. There’s so much murder and mayhem everywhere. No respect for that gift, the greatest gift we will ever have, of life, of living and growing and learning and appreciating and cherishing our time on earth! It has been so devalued, so taken for granted! People take each other’s lives every minute of every day, because of an insult, a grudge, even a look, and you are cancelled, because your life isn’t worth much anymore, at least not to them!

I have been blessed with longevity. I look at my grandchildren, young and vibrant and expectant! Dreaming of school or the next gift or friends or vacation or adventures that are in store for them. Unaware of all the perils they will face in this modern world, which is a good thing, for the most part. I know that my children will teach them to respect and value life, teach them to be the best they can be. It’s so hard these days, when a child is not safe in his/her school, or on a playground. Parents just have to do their best to protect them, and to teach them to respect and value every breathing moment of their hopefully long and happy lives! Life and living and discovering—what could be more precious?

Now, if only we had the science and technology to guide us through a pathway to the preserving and protecting of life, while we’re still alive, not 2000 years from now.


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