You may recall that I have earlier identified our ultimate enemy as death. This came from an admittedly emotional response to the death of my beloved father. And that is how many people understood it. They understood this as a statement of my understandable reaction to a horrible event in my life.
Yet, over the last few months, I find that not only do other people have that same feeling, (that death is the ultimate enemy) there are scientists and researchers, no doubt with some emotional investment, trying to understand aging and stop its advance. And while these researchers are humans with emotions, possibly working through some issues with their mortality (or that of their life companions), they are attempting to stop death by aging or disease using established, rational procedures. My love of life and preference for life feels validated by their work and dedication to life extension.
What I may not have referred to is the polar opposite. Life is the ultimate good. Being alive is good and the work of human nutrition, medical science, and more recently, molecular biology, is to understand living in order to extend this goodness called life. I want to be clear, so I will repeat it: Life is the ultimate good.
You may agree with that…or not. You may be schooled in our western religious mindset that identifies humans as less than good and God being the only possessor of goodness. If so, I ask you to consider the beginning chapter of the scriptures, the foundation of our understanding of who we are. In Genesis, chapter One, God created this world with its line up of inhabitants then promptly declared it all good, very good in some translations. So, yes, the life we have received and the elements that support life are good. God said so. I accept that many followers of Christ (though, not all) may have formed a rebuttal to that premise and we could discourse all day upon it, but please accept that for me, life is the ultimate good.
With life as the ultimate good, we can move forward to an extremely clear path. All that we do, say or think is good if it supports life, the ultimate good. If it does not immediately support life, or rationalizations are required to make it fit into the scheme of supporting life, there is less to recommend it. This is not to say it is bad if it does not immediately support life. But the line is drawn for anything that justifies death, the ultimate enemy. Said another way, anything that kills or reduces the experience of life’s vibrancy is anti-life, anti-community, anti-awareness and anti-compassion.
I understand that the above sounds overly simple. There is the one good (life and all that supports living) and the one evil (death and all that aids and abets dying). It leaves the question of all the gray area between, left unmarked. But actually, the gray area is the playground of life, a testing facility. It’s the arena where rich differences come into play, language, culture, governments, arts, foods, mating and raising of children, ways of sensing and learning… That playground supports life as easily as it allows opportunities for accidents, failures, mistakes, ignorance, misunderstandings, poor judgment, etc. In this “gray” arena, the good in us will not want to mistake death for life, war for peace, darkness for light, force for love, enemies for friends, growth for advancement, information for intelligence, intelligence for wisdom, or power for authority.
The good, however, is not left without direction; it can easily distinguish forward movement from backward. It only requires keeping our eyes on life. That’s what Life would do.