I believe very strongly in the right of people to exist without receiving harm or oppression from others. That’s one of the important reasons that I am becoming a doctor — because that belief translates to the conviction that everyone has the right to access healthcare that does not further their traumas or ills.
Last week during an informal dinner with about a dozen other first-year medical students, a question came up: Do you believe in an objective good and objective bad? Many students did believe in some kind of good or bad that existed regardless of human activity or perspective, whether that was paired with belief in a god or not. It did spark a heated debate, though.
And who knows — maybe there is an objective good or bad. The truth is, though, that I might not care. I mean, I grew up in a community where being gay was an Objective Bad, among other innocuous things. 50 years ago, that community would have also openly thought that interracial marriage — perhaps even being Black itself — was an Objective Bad. And while it is easy for us to argue that there is an objective good that places sacred value on human life, the definition of an objective good is that it would exist whether or not we could rationalize it. It could BE anything.
And so my question is: what if God himself came down from heaven to tell you that it’s okay to persecute “the gays, Jews, and Blacks”? Would that change your opinion of right or wrong?
I really — really — hope not.
I believe in the ranking of human life, dignity, and autonomy above all things regardless of whether some god or objective good declares it to be so. I don’t need divine approval. And the truth is, if I did received divine disapproval, I would stand in opposition — and I truly hope that everyone else would do the same.