Benoît Comeau


To Live Is To Suffer... In that context, who do you choose to be?

I came across a news item online that reported the mistakes made a medical practitioner with female patients who had been artificially inseminated with the wrong donor sperm. Wrong, in that the donor sperm had been mixed up with that of others and the women wound up conceiving from men not of their choosing.

All involved, including the doctor, the patients and the families were discombobulated by the whole turn of events. Though no one wanted to be rid of the 'wrong' offspring, no one seemed to be happy with the seemingly undesirable outcome.

Chief among the stakeholders were the offspring of the wrong donors. Because the actual donors, as a result of the mistakes, could not be identified, one young man was reported as being upset by the fact that he didn't know where he came from. Almost as if not knowing was some sort of affliction or cross to bear.

I posted a comment online that went like this:

    The young man quoted in this article asks himself "Where am I from?" - it's an interesting, quasi-existential self-inquiry.

    The paradox that seems to be missed here is that if the 'correct' semen sample had been used in these cases, the offspring of the mother(s) would have been totally different being(s).

    The result would have been that the young man would not be who he is now, he would be someone else. In fact, he would, arguably, not even exist.

    So, assuming the young man is glad to be among us, i.e., of the living, the mistake that brought him into being should not be a source of angst (if such there is). He should consider himself extremely lucky!

In my humble opinion, the question he should be asking himself is "Who do I want to be?"

Obviously, the young man could not choose where he came from. (The universe makes that choice for us.) He was dealt a set of cards and, like it or not, that's what he had to work with.

What he and any of us could choose, is what to do with the cards dealt to us. In terms of looking forward, a fundamental question is "Who am I meant to be?" – the answer to which there are many layers and the work of a lifetime.

One could argue that life itself is a cross to bear. In Buddhist thinking, to live is to suffer. The extent to which we suffer is governed primarily by how we choose to think about our living predicament: Is it good or is it bad? And how do we choose to deal with it?

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