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Sunday, 13 July 2014

The science fiction Armageddon where the robots take over is here

"We need to treat our body like an instrument not an ornament" said one tweet yesterday. 

Which had me reflecting on whether treating it like an instrument really ensures we treat the body with the respect it deserves. Or perhaps more importantly - ensures we treat the human being with the respect he or she deserves.
 
Our relationship with, and treatment of, our bodies seems to have been a theme this week. 

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, was reported yesterday as saying he will support the assisted dying bill here in the UK. A bill that will enable people to power down their "instrument" early when its future functionality is compromised.

I support Lord Carey due to the fact that I believe we've taken the 'body as an instrument' analogy too far. We're no longer treated as individuals with personality and soul but a selection of body parts that can be put together time and time again, and again, and again. New technology continually extending the body's life despite the cost to the mind, heart and soul. 
 
I went for my first breast screening appointment this week - something every woman here in the UK can look forward to once they hit a certain age. I wanted to change the day of my appointment and had difficulties because they didn't have my barcode. A world gone mad I thought when even our body parts need a barcode. 
 
I realise there's administrative and efficiency reasons for use of a barcode for such appointments. I just wonder whether it simply allows all of us to to continue the myth of the body as an instrument. To forget, or possibly ignore, the human component to our bodies that means it's anything but an instrument. 
 
It's said that to be a good surgeon means they have to forget about the person inside the body. If they didn't rapport and empathy would stop them being able to do what they do. So who is able to make decisions on behalf of the human being?
 
Tony Nicklinson asked for the right to die after doctors had 'saved' him following a stroke in 2005. He was left with 'locked-in syndrome'. Until 2012 that is when, after 7 years of a life he didn't want, nor ask for, he felt he had no choice but to starve himself to death after failing to get legal support for assisted suicide. 
 
The doctors treated the instrument, and the legal system supported the view that so long as we have the technology and skill we must keep that instrument, the body, alive! 

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that a religious leader is asking us to think differently about this. To consider I'm sure the soul - that 'inner being' that makes each human unique.

I rewatched Bicentennial Man this week. Its a film with Robin Williams as an android who outlives all the humans around him. He eventually asks his android technicians to build obsolescence back into his body. Thus enabling his body to cease to be at a date, and for a reason, unknown. He wanted the predictability of his body and life to be taken away so that he could live and love. 

Isn't that the aim of life - to live and love with our heart and soul. 

Once we make decisions simply based on the instrument we carry all our humanness around in then that science fiction Armageddon where the robots take over is already here. 
 
Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out in procurement, business - and yes sometimes trying to do that more broadly :-) 

1 comment:

  1. I 100% agree, I know 5 people who died horrific deaths all from cancer, I am very distressed that my life may end like that. I would consider jumping from a bridge if I ever got a terminal ilness . the thought of dying crying and thrashing in pain horrifies me. We would not do this to an animal so how is it ever acceptable? I hope the law changes before it happens to me.

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