April 26, 2011


In March, I wrote about Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, “Never Let Me Go” (3/14/2011).  It is the story of cloned children raised for the sole purpose of providing organs to others until the youngsters become “complete,” meaning they die. One of the passionate and reoccurring questions raised by this novel and the subsequent movie is why these sacrificial lambs don’t run away and disappear into the broader society. Certainly, the lovers in the story want to prolong their lives and seek a temporary dispensation which they later discover does not exist. Learning the truth, they don’t rebel; they accept their destiny. They have long been taught their purpose. They exist to save others. 

(courtesy: BingImages) 

The work is science fiction, of course, but it examines not only the moral issues about how far sacrifice should go but also that aspect of character where heroism resides. If the story seems fantastic, consider the reality of young men, some of them in their twenties, who have volunteered to enter Japan’s toxic Fukushima nuclear plant knowing that their protective gear was never meant to safe guard them against the amount of radiation to which they are being exposed. There is no doubt in the minds of their families and their nation that these men are heroes… dead men walking for their love of country. How does a nation begin to say thank you?

While the drug lords of Mexico turn that country into a killing field and while the Middle East waters the sand with blood, it is good to remember that among us are people who reflect the best and not the worst in us. 

“What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties… and in action how like an angel…”    

(“Hamlet,” Act 11, scene ii, lines 300-303)