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While life is present, it is precious, but, for all its value, it is also fragile. If you take a moment to think about the animation of the human body, I can’t help but believe that you must be in awe. Take the simplest of operations. You are going to open your car door and get inside. You walk toward the car. You do this perhaps without even thinking; your brain is simply on automatic. You stretch forth your arm and grasp the door handle with your hand. Then, you pull on the door and it opens. You stoop to slide in, and you sit down, closing the door behind you. You do all this without thinking about what a miracle it really is. Inanimate objects in your field of vision cannot do this. The tree under which you parked, even though it is itself alive, cannot do this. Even your pet dog or cat cannot do this. It is a purely human capacity.


But even the human must be living. We know that the ability of the arm and hand to coordinate the effort of opening and closing the car door depends somehow on the tissues of the body being oxygenated. And that process requires pulmonary functions and the flow of blood, made possible by a beating heart. And, of course the autonomic nervous system plays a part in keeping the the body breathing and the heart pumping.


But remove the oxygen, interfere with the nervous system, halt the breathing, stop the heart, and the body is not able even to move. It is inanimate. Life, you see, is a remarkable gift. Which means that death is a terrible intrusion. A body that is not living cannot do any of the things we have described, not even the simplest of operations.