By Dr. Jeanette Pinto –
The phrase “Culture of Life” is a term used in discussion of moral theology, especially that of the Catholic Church. Its proponents describe it as a way of life based on the theological truth that human life at all stages from conception through natural death is sacred. In this aspect a “culture of life” opposes practices which are destructive to human life, like Abortion, Contraception, Invitro Fertilization, Euthanasia, Surrogacy, Capital punishment and so on. A wider inclusion would be various studies and medicines involving embryonic stem cells, unjust war, narcissism and excessive selfishness. In a simple sentence it may be summarised thus:
As a gift from God, every human life is sacred from conception to natural death.
God’s greatest blessing to mankind is the gift of life. Human life is a sacred essence unlike life in plants and animals. Any abuse on human life assaults the dignity of a person, as a bearer of the image of God. The life and dignity of every person must be respected, protected, defended and preserved at every stage and every condition. The right to life is the first and fundamental principle of human rights that leads Catholics to actively work for a world of greater respect for human life, the dignity of the person and the greater commitment of justice and peace.
We have often heard that human life is priceless. How so? Indeed has anyone tried to measure the value or worth of human life? Let’s use the scales of justice to measure human life. On one pan of the scale place human life; be it the unborn babe, a child, a teen, an adult, or a senior; and on the other pan what will you place to evenly balance the scale? Is it Money! Property! Riches! Jewels or What??? You see there is NOTHING that is pricier or more precious you can find that is as valuable as human life. Once the breath of life is gone, that life is lost forever. Indeed, one can measure the quality of life using statistical data in terms of life expectancy, luxurious lifestyle, probability of crippling, fatal or non-fatal injuries or deadly illnesses and the like. Truly the value of life cannot be exaggerated.
So how do we foster a culture of life? What do we do to make it a reality? The only answer that appears logical lies in the word ‘Love.’ It is love for the defenceless mute babe in the womb that will prevent a woman from resorting to abortion – Adoption can be a great option. It is the committed love of spouses that will help nurture healthy happy families, preventing hurtful relationships, divorce and broken homes. Here innocent children become victims. It is care and compassion for the elderly especially when the difficult and challenging time at the end of life comes, this will prevent euthanasia. In every human interaction, if there is respect, kindness and understanding, then there is hope for a culture of life to prevail, for Love truly conquers all.
But where is Love? It is the material wealth and the desire for more and more and more! There is a glut of everything which evokes the senses to greater desire and this is not good for man. We live in troubled times when the life is not only decimated but man will do just anything to snuff it out. If he cannot create life, he has no business to destroy it. Money power and wealth has become his main concern. He is gripped with greed. This is infectious and so like a cancer the evil spreads widely creating a culture of death.
The issues surrounding the sanctity of human life are as many and varied as any issue facing humanity today. A term to describe these issues is “bioethics”. The term was coined more than 30 years ago to describe the process of examining the ethics involved with the emerging medical technologies and biological research. In religion and ethics, inviolability or sanctity of life is a principle of implied protection regarding aspects of sentient life which are said to be holy, sacred or otherwise of such value that they are not to be violated. It is only by a civilisation of love that we can foster a culture of life. . We must help create a better world by nurturing a culture of life, and fighting against the culture of death and violence that has insidiously crept into our home, neighbourhood and country.
Dr Jeanette Pinto, an educator for the past 5 decades, headed the Department of History was Vice Principal of St. Xavier’s College Mumbai, and retired as Principal of Sophia College, Mumbai. She is a counsellor and conductor of Personal Enrichment Programmes for students and teachers.
She set up the Human Life Committee in the Archdiocese of Bombay. As a sex educator she has given talks on Human Sexuality in India and abroad. In 2014 she received the Rachana Outstanding Woman of the Year for her Pro-life work presented by the Diocese of Mangalore. She has attended many National and International Pro-life conferences and given talks at other fora on various women’s issues.
She is author of a couple of books, her most recent ones are titled: I’m Pro-Life Are you? & Sex Talk: Parent to Child. She has also written a number of articles on a variety of themes and subjects, which have been published in research journals, The Examiner and other Catholic publications.