It’s a question that he asks, too. It could become a real question for test tube babies to ask themselves should we ever get to that point in cloning, creating a potential existential crisis in future generations. Right now, it acts as a hypothetical, something that doesn’t need to be answered (do we have souls, either? There’s no way of actually knowing, but depending on our upbringing, we’re asked to believe that yes, we do), or if it does, it’s something that we can approach from the relatively safety of thinking about literature. Does Superboy have a soul? Does Frankenstein’s monster?
It can provide a lot of comfort to only have to think about things in abstract.
Problems only really arise if we can’t think beyond the abstract and cannot apply these hypotheticals to ourselves.
We’re in a room in a building near the church. It’s owned by the church, but it isn’t the church. There’s still a crucifix, Jesus sitting like a witness. Three men in the room have a discussion regarding the current scene of politics and healthcare and education. (I am unable to participate and, I don’t want to be a part of the conversation.) There are a few things that I might agree with–yes, it is a problem that we treat an undergraduate degree the same way some people treated a high school diploma thirty years ago, and there is a problem with blue collar jobs being stigmatized as lesser (let’s look at where we are, being left by the people who will work those jobs because their safety has been threatened, and let’s think about the relative disregard we have for the people who work with their hands. I worked at a voc-tech high school. These kids have the potential to make more money than I ever will with my trade–or they’ll be ridiculed by the “educated elite,” liberal or conservative or otherwise).
It’s here where the conversation takes a turn towards the place of morals in government and someone makes the comment that we shouldn’t be ruled by morals, but by common sense. Well, what do you mean by that? It could go two ways: the “morals” of people who would like to oppress people unlike themselves on the basis that it conflicts with their own personal beliefs, or the idea of wanting to govern on a moral basis–that is, not wanting to do harm to your fellow man. I have the feeling that they’re talking about healthcare and human rights because that’s where this conversation has been heading (they’ve discussed how it’s unfair for the government to provide funding for higher education because it allows people to study whatever they like without the promise of a return on that investment–but what about the cultural return? Ask Marjorie Garber about that and she’ll give you an earful. I keep my mouth shut, not wanting to say, hey, I study English at a public university, and hey, one of the people who runs this is looking for a PhD program in theology, which is still part of the useless humanities).
Jesus is still in the room. I think of Joe Kennedy’s rebuttal to Paul Ryan calling the alternative to the ACA an “act of mercy,” and I still don’t speak up. But let’s approach it from the point of view of “Common Sense.”
Maybe you don’t want to look at healthcare as being a moral obligation (but we were both in the service that morning, and what does Jesus teach us about taking care of our fellow man? Again, I refer to what Joe Kennedy said in the hearing), so let’s look at it as an act of common sense. It makes no sense to have a system in which those same blue collar workers you’re so concerned about are so frequently left to fend for themselves when it comes to health insurance, and then to have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to pay for any hospital or even your standard primary care office visits. it makes no sense to have a system in which the most vulnerable in your society are left at the mercy of companies that do not, frankly, care about them–sorry, morals there–because more often than not, how likely are these people going to be able to pay any debts? How can you have able-bodied workers when those workers don’t know if they’ll be able to afford doctor’s visits and medication that will keep them able-bodied? How can you justify a system that leaves so many unable to care for themselves, or their families, and say that it makes sense economically when, if these people are unable to work because they are ill, that reduces the amount of money that companies are going to be able to make (when you make less, you have less to spend). Even from the lens of what is “common sense” according to the machinery of capitalism (which I assume is what that common sense must refer to) not providing affordable healthcare and insurance is like shooting yourself in the foot.
But it’s easier to think about these things when they don’t apply to you. You’re someone who has been able to keep working despite a relatively unstable job market (even in your field–but you’ve also been established in that field for several years). You might not have a pre-existing condition that would allow insurance companies to discriminate against you, and you’re married to someone else who has health insurance provided through their work. Massachusetts already has policies against being uninsured. We have a state health insurance available which was, if I’m not mistaken, put in place during Mitt Romney’s tenure as governor. The uncertainties in being able to get coverage–and then not having to worry about emergency visits because you can’t afford or don’t have a PCP–are not something you have to worry about.
So it’s easier to discuss these as hypothetical because they don’t apply to you, and you have distance, and even if you’re trying to be more aware of your religion, you don’t need to listen to what you’re being taught. It’s so far removed from you that it’s easy to imagine it as something you’ll never have to face, and just a question that will come up in future generations.
Does Superboy have a soul? Does Frankenstein’s monster? Do we?