John Lennon, Love, Religion and Bioethics

- Erin D. Williams, J.D.
Associate Director, Law, Policy and Ethics
Foundation for Genetic Medicine, Inc.
l0900 University Blvd, MSN 4E3
Manassas, VA 20ll0, USA
Email: EWilliams@GeneticMedicine.org
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 11 (2001), 113.


I remember at the IAB4 Congress in Tokyo, Darryl Macer reinforced his point about bioethics being the love of life by quoting the musical group, the Beatles: "All you need is love." His most recent exchange with Frank reminds me of a lyric from another Beatles song: "imagine no religion . . .".

I have noticed of late that many of my friends, myself included, have looked to their own religious traditions, seeking to understand and personalize them. A dear friend of mine, a deeply spiritual woman, calls herself an "expanded Christian." She honors nature, is kind to fellow humans, stands up for the rights of the downtrodden, goes to church on Sundays, and occasionally practices Wicca with a group of excellent female friends. Though the specifics of her practice are hers, it seems that searching the tradition of your youth for truths applicable to your life, and perhaps avoiding the practices do not fit into your life experience, is a natural process. A Methodist by heritage, I find myself looking to the Bible occasionally for guidance. At the same time, I am learning to heal with chi, practicing martial arts, and investigating issues relating to biotechnology. These things are related somehow in a coherent scheme through me.

I discussed this trend with another friend, a woman who is Jewish by heritage. She was not comfortable with the notion that you should be able to identify with only the convenient parts of a religious tradition. Her point was not that I was being a "bad Christian" by reading the Bible selectively. Rather she wanted to make sure that if I was going to call myself a Christian (which I usually do not), I owned all of the terrible things that had been done in the name of Christianity, not only those parts of the religion that I like.

This feels to me the same as being a United States citizen, and occasionally being forced to account for the horror of slavery and continuing international, environmental and economic imbalances this country causes. While the US may be an outstanding example, most every country has been a party to some abuse.

How can we as individuals help to stop the divisiveness and hatred that can accompany labels such as citizenship and religion? Must we renounce them all?

I propose that instead of renouncing labels, we make an effort appreciate them and all of the hues of humanity that they represent. Once we begin to value our differences, then those differences can no longer be used as excuses for cruelty and injustice. At the same time, we must remember the past, both its beauty and its horrors, so that we can move beyond our mistakes. In short, we should aspire to love one another. When all else fails, we can learn to "let it be."


Go to commentary by Raghwesh
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