Mar 14, 2018

Farewell, Mr. Hawking.

It's often quite interesting to see what Google offers to auto-complete what one types. Today, on the birthday of Albert Einstein, another great physicist, Steven Hawking is in the news again, the man born on the day Galileo died having taken this day to shed his mortal form.

Professor Hawking has been on my mind quite a bit in recent years, though his disciplines are quite different from any I have practiced. But as life has happened to the son of a colleague, and the debate on quality of life and euthanasia has evolved, my thoughts have returned time and again to the man who was supposed to die more than half a century ago but who instead lived a full life and made enormous contributions to science and human understanding of the Universe. A man who, by some modern practice, would have been aborted in the womb after DNA testing or who might have been put down like a stray dog if some Dutch or Belgian doctor decided his life was an undue cost burden on the State.

Arrogant fools make such a calculation, and their House of Evil too often has its foundation on such "good" intentions. And humanity is poorer for that, immeasurably so.

Education, vocational training and professional practice without well-considered ethical foundations, subject to frequent, careful integrity checks rest on uncertain ground that can too easily turn to deep mud or quicksand and swallow all that keeps us apart from the most degraded of beasts. If you want examples of the grand architecture of the human spirit, look not to the Coliseum, the great aqueducts or the pyramids. Look to the tubercular Keats. To Helen Keller. To Freddie Mercury. To Mr. Hawking. Time held them green and dying, but their songs carry on as the sound of the sea.

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