Thursday, October 21, 2010

Are You Done With That?

I apologize ahead of time that this isn’t going to be a funny post. I will give it a shot when I find an opening, but this is one of the least funny subjects I can possibly imagine.

You spend a very finite amount of time on this Earth. Very finite. Our human lifespans are short by any comparison to geological, astronomical, or recorded human history. Each of our lives would not even constitute the thickness of an eyelash on a timeline of existence that stretched around the Earth’s circumference.

What’s the point? Even though we’re here such a short time, every moment seems to count for quite a lot. Maybe not so much in the middle of our lives, but each second really becomes important towards the end.

One thing that has always silently bugged me about religion is that it gets people to do irrational things. I don’t talk about it much, but it’s true. Even saying “Bless you” after you sneeze is completely stark-raving ludicrous. I haven’t done it in years, and I still rarely ever get sick (I chalk it up to limiting my interaction with other people, and a raging case of germaphobia).

But really, it’s harmless when someone says, “Bless you” to me when I sneeze in public. I know their intentions are good, but more importantly: it doesn’t hurt me or anyone else. If the custom was to punch you in the sternum when you sneeze, maybe I’d be on a crusade. As it stands, it’s no skin off my back.

There are irrational things that religion causes people to do that aren’t so harmless, however. Now, I know religion is only a disseminator of ideas, ideas which can be accepted or rejected on an individual basis. For example, I know that plenty of religious Christians don’t oppose gay marriage, just as I know atheists who oppose gay marriage (for fascist “survival of the fittest/it ain’t natural” reasons).

The point being: you can’t get rid of religion and expect ignorance to follow on its coat tails. The very act of forcing people to abandon their religion is, in my honest opinion, a religious act. Iconoclasm and forced [de]conversion are two of the tell-tale ritual practices of a militant religion. Atheists who support or adopt these tactics are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

So, keeping in mind that I oppose forcing anyone to do something they don’t want to do, I have a question: why doesn’t everyone donate their organs after they die? It’s a rhetorical question, because I know the two main reasons. Both these reasons are just empty arguments that hinge on an underlying (and unfounded) paranoia.

The first and obvious reason is the religious one. Many religious beliefs hold the dead body as sacred and needing to remain intact. Many Jews believe to this day that your body will be resurrected with the coming of the Messiah. This is why Jews are buried so quickly: they are not embalmed, so they have to go in the ground quickly. Some people who lose a body part (finger, toe, limb, etc.) will hold onto it so they can be buried with it after they die.

Look, I can’t pretend to tell someone they are not allowed to believe that kind of nonsense. I’m not the thought police. But let me ask a question to my Jewish readers (and I know I have some who wander over from my wife’s blog): what of those lost in the Holocaust? Is your God so cruel that the charred and mutilated remains of Jewish Holocaust victims have been prevented from experiencing the kingdom to come?

I’m just asking. It seems pretty ridiculous to me, but what about religion isn’t?

I can’t do a damn thing about religion’s part in this. I can try to reason with an individual who is thinking of not being a donor, but I can’t change a faith I have nothing to do with. But there is another argument: the organ thief paranoia.

I have actually heard an atheist use this as his reason why he willfully would not be an organ donor, and it sickened me as someone who, at the time, was planning to work in the healthcare profession. I still find it completely ridiculous, but I’ll dutifully present and refute it anyway.

Some people think that if you are a donor, that EMTs, doctors, nurses, or really any healthcare provider would purposely kill you or let you die so that they could harvest your organs. Now, I’m not saying this would never happen, but I would also like to point out that there is nothing preventing them from doing so as it is, even if you are “not a donor.”

Basically, if someone wants to kill you and use your organs while you are in a vulnerable situation (like going into surgery or while unconscious), it’s going to happen and you’re properly fucked. Get over it people. The odds are so remote that this will happen to you, however, that I dare say you might be better off worrying about meteorites falling from the sky and hitting you in the temple.

No one has ever explained to me how selecting “not a donor” on your driver’s license would ever prevent someone from stealing your organs, and unless doing so activates some sort of forcefield around your abdomen, I think it’s going to remain a useless decision.

I would love it if every state made everyone a donor by default, but that you could opt out. As it is, you have to often ask specifically to be a donor when you get your driver’s license. Many states don’t even ask, “Do you want to be a donor,” you have to know that you must volunteer. If anything, they should make you look at pictures of people on the waiting list for a kidney before letting you opt out.

I’m really sick of living in a “volunteer” society, where things only get done by those who volunteer to do it. We end up short changed, impoverished, and callous. I don’t understand why anyone would be so selfish that they would demand to hold onto something they don’t even need at a time they aren’t even around anymore.

They say “You can’t take it with you.” The truth is, you can, but what you’re taking is someone’s precious last years, months, days and hours on Earth, and you’re taking them not for yourself, but for the bugs that will gorge on you in the grave. What’s more important than saving the lives of other people? Apparently feeding worms.


  1. If I had complete trust in the health care industry, I would gladly become a donor.As it stands anyway, in this day and age it is probably quite easy to be stuck with a doctor or nurse or caretaker who is prone to start doing cost and benefit analysis on another persons life, or is emotionally unstable in a given way. It would only take a moment of relapse or an emotional outburst from one of the healthcare officials in charge of YOUR LIFE! for someone to be using your liver as a hat or something to that effect.

  2. Yeah but see... they can just take it anyway. You think they'll kill you but not falsify documents? Are you mad?


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