This I Believe

Brian - Santa Rosa, California
Entered on February 14, 2007

What I learned after killing one of my kids.

Before you dismiss me as an attention-seeking psychopath or look on the internet for any related newspaper articles, let me explain. I am an upstanding citizen, I am gainfully employed, I have been happily married to the same woman for nearly fifteen years and I am the loving father of three great children. My best friend is a police officer, I cheerfully give money to those in need and I hold doors open for anyone entering a building after me.

By all standards I’m a good guy…and really always have been.

So why did I choose to kill someone?

The short answer is convenience. The longer answer is what this essay is about.

When I was younger, I bought into the notion that we are all chance occurrences in nature. That we, as organisms, originally developed as a result of proteins coincidentally latching onto each other during some electrified, primordial dance. That from nonexistence we came to be…and to nonexistence we will ultimately return. With that view it was impossible to truly value life – mine or anyone else’s. I’m not saying that people had no value to me. I could be amazed by the talent of a singer, I could enjoy being around a friendly person, and I could love everything about my wife. But those are all ultimately selfish things, aren’t they? The value I placed on those people was based on how they affected me.

So, when I was nineteen and my girlfriend got pregnant just when our relationship was winding down and our separate lives were taking off, it was just natural to choose abortion. Why would I have wanted to be tied to her, or her to me? The relationship was pretty much over and a baby was just not in our plans. What real value was there in that thing that would be worth side-tracking our whole lives? Indeed.

It wasn’t until years later, when my wife became pregnant with my oldest daughter, that I began to understand the inherent value of life. A physician told me that even in our technologically advanced and modern society, there is still no true understanding of how a fetus develops. “It’s like planting an apple seed,” He said. “And it growing into a tree that bears grapes, oranges, bananas and pineapples.”

Then, as I pursued a career in emergency medical services, I learned about biology and the awesome cellular world that exists in me…in every living thing. A world that, to me, has the unmistakable markings of intention. In realizing that I was no more a random conglomeration of cosmic pieces than a skyscraper is a random conglomeration of steel, glass and concrete, I was forced to confront what I had done at nineteen. I had taken something that wasn’t mine to take – destroyed something that I had not created.

I accept responsibility for what I have done, and would even go so far as to say that I forgive myself. Without that mistake seventeen years ago, I would never be able to write that I believe all life is created by God and that it’ll never be my place to determine its value…or when it should end.