Friday, April 18, 2008

La mort qui n'est pas petite ou bonne

There was an article in Esquire today, in which the author speculated that teenagers shot each other because they didn't realize that the person could actually die. Teenagers understand that when someone is shot, they die. What they typically fail to understand is the higher moral code at stake here. The idea that one should refrain from acting in a "bad" way because it is morally wrong, not because you might get caught. People are too often punishing their children by saying, "Because I said so" Or some such nonsense, without explaining that hurting someone is bad because the other person has the right not to be hurt by you, or the right to defend themselves in a sufficiently unpleasant manner. People are failing to develop a sufficiently advanced superego (postulated by Freud (yes he's a crackpot- Except this once)) to take responsability for their actions, and adjust accordingly.

I was in my kitchen today, making a sandwich of provolone and genua, under the dim spherical light, listening to the sound of typing from the next room; when I spotted a moth on the wall. Huge, fat, brown-velvet covered body; two massive, fuzzy wings folded neatly behind; slender, arching antennae wobbling precipitously in front. I shuddered (moths disturb me), and began to look around my little house for a shoe, newspaper, or some such implement of doom. Finally, equipped with my moth-remover paper, I approached the beasty from across the ceramic tiled floor. As I approached the moth, however, I realized I couldn't kill it. I could not move my arm, starting with the shoulder, moving the elbow, ending at the wrist, swishing the black and white weapon, to land on that fragile, unknowing creature. I could not imagine being the reason that the tiny brain that powers this barely-sentient bug stops puttering. "It would be almost instant. It would feel nothing, would know nothing." My brain told me; and I began to distrust it. What kind of brain would let me accept that as an excuse to snuff out this life? I threw out the paper, rammed my sandwich into the reusable plastic bag I use for my lunches and trooped out the door to catch my late-night bus.

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