Saturday, September 17, 2011

The price of everything

In Oscar Wilde's play Lady Windemere's Fan Lord Darlington describes a cynic as "a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."

Recently, our house was damaged by hurricane Irene, and we've been doing a lot of triage of the things we have accumulated over the years. This is not small task, as my wife and I are both pack rats. Still, there are things to get rid of. Some books that got wet, for instance, are easily replaceable. Other things, like family photos, I will spend time and money drying out and restoring. They may be worth less in terms of dollars, but could never be replaced. They are valuable.

Such is the irony of couples that abort children who may have a health problem. They know the price of the abortion, but not the value of the child they discard. "We can always have another one" is frequently heard, but can they replace that child?

There are 23 pairs of chromosomes in a human cell. One couple could have 70,368,744,177,664 (70 trillion) children without repeating the child they conceived. And that's just genetically. There will never be another point in their lives like this. That child is literally irreplaceable.

Even more than just physically, that child is a human being, made in the image of God (and its parents). When we decide to "throw out" a human being we are demonstrating that that a human life, even the life of our own child, is worth less to us than the car we repair, the dog we take to the vet, or even the flowers in our scrapbook.

“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” Using Wilde's definition of a cynic, Mother Teresa was a great optimist.


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