Friday, March 29, 2013

The Rights of the Unborn

Question: Do we, the living, have any moral, ethical, or legal responsibilities to the unborn? Are any rights conveyed to the unborn?

Before you ask, no, this is not an essay on abortion. I'll save that for another day.

I'm talking of children yet conceived. My grandkids, perhaps, or the children who will walk this Earth in 100 years. What obligations do we have to the millions who don't exist yet, not even in the twinkle of someone's eye? Those children have no say at all and certainly no vote except by proxy through us: the living.

I've been thinking of this question within the context of our debate on energy policy and how it relates to future economic prosperity, national security, and ecological and environmental justice.

I've been thinking of this question because the environmental movement, as currently oriented, has largely failed. It has focused largely on the specific concern of global warming, no small concern of course, but in doing so has not convincingly incorporated other, related issues -- economic prosperity, national security, and more broadly ecological and environmental justice -- in a coherent philosophy of what humanity could become.

Recently we have focused on Keystone XL as a rallying point. A line in the sand, if you will. In spite of some good energy and well articulated science, we have failed to effectively move public opinion and Obama is likely to sign off on the project. There was a recent piece on Huffington Post regarding  recent research that "[c]limate activists' strategy of barraging people with information about the consequences of climate change could end up hurting the cause."

We risk losing the message and the movement.

If history teaches us anything it is that cultures come and go. Eventually what we know as our current society will be different. Environmental catastrophe or not. Rather than fear a scary future, can we create a human future where all  enjoy "freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear, and freedom from want?"

After Amy died, and in the months, now years, since, I realized something about the power of human love. How transformational it truly is. It is our unique gift and quality only we humans enjoy. A gift not to be squandered. And to fully manifest love, at a minimum, requires those four freedoms. Only once those basic humans freedoms are realized can we begin to do the work we humans are charged with: To fully love and be loved fully.

If we don't ensure such a world where our children's, children, can love and be fully loved, then what is the point? I created a citizen petition on regarding Keystone XL where I tried, perhaps less than perfectly, to connect these dots in the few words allotted, and propose a way to change the discussion. To move the debate forward.

So I'll answer my earlier question: Yes, we the living, have moral, ethical, and legal responsibilities to the unborn, or at least should. Decisions we make and actions we take today, in our own self-interests, ought not compromise nor undermine the self-interests of humans 1, 10, 100, even 1000 years from now.

They have a right to love and be loved.

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