Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Measure Of A Life

In the Star Trek episode "The Measure Of A Man" [1] the android Data together with his friends on the star ship Enterprise have to prove that Data is in fact sentient and deserving of the same rights as any human being. The argument from the side of a Star Fleet engineer is that he is merely a machine and thus property of Star Fleet with every right to disassemble and study him. The lengths to which Data and his friends have to go in order to conclusively prove that Data does in fact have a personality and the feelings and desires which come with it are astounding. It does however show quite well how hard it is to prove the obvious.

As an extension of this, consider the position of an individual in a society. Much like how Data showed that he cared about his friends and they about him, an individual can only exist as part of a larger whole. Within this framework there also has to be mutual care and attention, or individuals become cut off and wither away. While all too often things may seem blindingly obvious to an individual and perhaps a select connected group of individuals, the rest of the individuals are very likely to ignore it.

The classic example is that of starvation and abuse in poor countries. Everyone knows that it exists, but we all have made sure that it doesn't have to affect us in any way. The few times our conscience prods the rest of our brain, we just toss a few cents in some fund which probably directs everything to its managers plus local politicians and we can sleep soundly again. Closer to home we aren't devoid of easy examples, though. Consider the rampant poverty in the US, or the fact that one in every nine children in the Netherlands grows up in poverty severe enough to be denied clothing and sufficient food.

It's easy to not care. Yet by doing so it damages that which makes a society, as well as the individuals it cuts off this way. Every day there are countless individuals - yours truly included - who petition their abhorrent situation to anyone willing to listen in the faint hope that maybe this time someone will listen. The usual result is that vague promises are made, wishes and prayers send your way and your suffering and agony quickly forgotten by those who pretended to listen.

Curiously, there are individuals who can really fight for a just cause, protecting and saving countless others, while the large majority opts to not even bother with it beyond voicing their occasional voices of agreement that the issues in question are a bad thing.

I find myself thinking a lot about these things as I'm yet again forced to make up the balance of my own individual life. A life without a future is pointless. Do I have a future? I know that intellectually I have a lot to offer to myself and to the world. One of my biggest dreams is to develop a sentient android such as Data. I know I can do it. It's just a matter of time. Time I can only get if I find a way to somehow balance out the emotional side of me as a human being.

The past weeks the thought of committing suicide and death in general haven't been out of my mind very often. If offered an easy and painless death right now I'd be severely tempted. The way I see it, there's a spectrum between 'wanting to die' and 'wanting to live'. I'm somewhere halfway on the first part at this point. All due to experiencing so incredibly much pain every day due to this body. Due to this body and those of other humans as well as human society I have to be constantly reminded about everything I am not (male or female) and don't have (sexuality, relationships) or seemingly can't have (medical help, a place in society where I can feel at ease).

I'm being persecuted in this country for having been born like this. I have lost many opportunities and wasted nearly a decade of my life on something which ultimately proved wasteful. As a result I feel a lot of resentment against this body. I have frankly no idea how I can balance this out in any fashion. Just putting it away and suppressing it as I have done for the past decades has proven to be traumatizing and impractical. This issue also seems to nullify the possible escape out of direct danger by moving to Germany. If I'm going to commit suicide anyway, or feel miserable due to the emotional meltdown, it'd be a lot of stressful work for something which ultimately was a waste of time.

Too little, too late.

As I described above, I have tried every way I could think of to poke and prod the others around me to make them aware of my immense pain and need for medical and psychological help. Naturally in the end few of them seemed to realize just how perilous the situation is I find myself in. Those who promised they'd ask around for medical help never got back to me. However, even just now when people who do want to help send me references to physicians I can only break out in tearful laughter. Doesn't anyone realize the horrible pain it causes me to go through the same cycle again and again. Hospital after hospital, physician after physician, surgeon after surgeon, psychologist after psychologist. Hope, crushed, pain, agony, numbness, reconciliation, careful hope, crushed... etc. Nearly nine years now.

There's a point where one becomes so cut off from other individuals and society with it that all one can do is wither away. I lack the energy to try and find new connections, new pathways. I know this. Some around me know this. In the larger picture it doesn't matter. I'm no more relevant than that African child who dies from starvation a minute from now. You never knew me. You never had to care about me. It's only fair. I can not prove my case that I do matter, that I am a life worth saving.

Just disassemble me and be done with it.



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