Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rose by any other Name? Words Are Important

Professor at Sogang University begins his article in the Peace Weekly reminding  us how important it is in society to use correct names and   terminology. We are dealing often  with  identity of an existence.

While studying in Germany, he recalls introducing  a girl who joined  the same language class as Ann, and she was quick to correct him telling him it was Anne and not Ann,  somewhat upset at the mistake.  He  mentions when students in his class mistake a syllable in his first name, to something very similar but not his name, he realizes it is of no great moment, but he  doesn't like it.

Terminology that is  not used correctly  not only leaves a bad feeling,  are mistaken, and can also be used for evil purposes.  

From here he jumps  to the Bioethics And Safety Act, the Government regulations that have to do with bioethical issues in Korea. He spends some time mentioning that using the term 'cluster of cells' instead of the proper terms are   not of little importance.  Not using the proper terms  for the fetus  after the    sperm fertilizes   the egg, and before it becomes a fetus and  calling it  a 'cluster of cells '  is done deliberately.

The reason for doing this after reading the regulations he says is because they want to use the fetus for experimental purposes. The writer feels that the way the regulations are written it is not to  respect life or seeing the value of  life, and preventing harm to the fetus,but enabling  the  study of the fetus for  the engineering of life for the market. It is another way of making money in the market with the sacrifice of life.

We have come to a point where we do things for reasons of financial  utility. We are always ready to improve our market possiblities. If we have a possiblity to do well in the market then we are willing to sacrifice the moral element. And this engineering of life is no exception.

He feels that we are traveling like the Titianic in the direction of an iceberg. We as a society should, first of all, respect life;  use  the proper  words in describing  the process of birth   from conception on.  If  we do not we will be using life as a means to an end.

This whole area of bioethics is not a subject  easily understood. Fortunately, in recent years we have been hearing of adult stem cell research that has little ethical problems associated with it. The Catholic Church here in Korea actively supports adult stem cell research and  is involved with their study. However, when it  is embryonic stem cell research  this is unacceptable even when the intention is a good one. In Korea they count the time in the womb as the  age at birth, which means everyone is one year old from birth. It is a reminder of the dignity of life right from the time of conception.  Foolishness for many  but the wisdom of Korean  culture should  make us reflect on a truth  not so difficult to see.

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