If you are a moral absolutist, you will have no problem taking a stand on half of the issues in this essay. But the others might still make you ponder awhile.
As a lead in, here are a few questions: If you passionately desire to have children, but for some reason you mustn’t father a child, would you pay another man to have sex with your wife? And if you are a wife, would you go along with the deal?
And what if heaven didn’t forbid and you sign on to this bargain, would you keep the child if you found out subsequently that the biological father is a lowlife, that the profile on the basis of which you signed him on is full of falsehoods? This scenario is not at all fictitious. As reported by the last week, citing the daily Tokyo Shimbun, a Japanese couple just lived it.
According to the report, the Tokyo-based couple very badly wanted a second child. But then they discover that the husband’s medical condition could predispose the child to serious health problems. So, they chose the sperm donation option.
But that too is a risky option. Though there is a proliferation of online outlets offering sperm insemination services, an expert estimated that as many as 95 per cent are unsafe. So, for this couple, the option was to hire an individual based on his profile. And rather than the chancy process of insemination, the couple opted for the natural way.
You probably just shuddered. But this couple’s decision is not necessarily an isolated one in Japan. It is estimated that 10,000 Japanese children have been born this way.
For this particular couple though, the outcome was unsatisfactory. The woman did conceive after several rounds with the sperm “donor” in June 2019. However, late in the pregnancy they discovered that the donor told a few lies about himself. First, he is Chinese rather than Japanese. Second, he is not a graduate of Kyoto University, Japan’s ivy league. And contrary to his claim, he was married.
The couple decided to put up the baby for adoption. Now the woman is suing the “donor” for misrepresentation and emotional distress to the tune of 330 million yen, the rough equivalent of $2.9 million.
The morality of their antecedent choices aside, the couple’s decision to put the child up for adoption raises a whole new set of questions. It is improbable that the donor’s marital status had anything to do with it.
That leaves ethnicity and presumed intelligence as reasons for getting rid of a child that carries the genes of one of the couple. And we’re talking of people of the same race. If you are the judge or juror, would you award them any money?
Quite a few readers probably don’t see the dilemma in the above. And quite a few probably won’t see it in the next case either. But the number will most likely go down.
It is always a challenge to share bad news with children, especially if the bad news is something as unsettling as the death of a beloved one. The common practice is to tell children that the person went to heaven.
A bereaved American mother recently learned that that answer also poses a dilemma. As she was driving with her four-year-old twins recently, one of them did what children that age often do: pop a confounding question out of the blues.
As distributed in her TikTok video and widely reported in the press, the toddler said: “Daddy’s taking too long in heaven. It’s a very long time.”As all parents who are thus ambushed do, the mom first went for a stalling response: “Yeah, he is taking a long time, isn’t he?” But the boy pressed further: “Soooooo a long time.”
By now the mom had had some time to reflect and give a deeper but carefully worded answer: “Well, that’s because when someone goes to heaven … they, they stay in heaven. Until we meet them there someday.”
That was the best mom could do, but it didn’t make the boy feel any better. He pensively looked through the car window, as though hoping for a glimpse of his father. He must have pondered some idea, then discarded it. “Can’t go in the cloud … because it’s too boggy in there,” he said.
When the mom interpreted boggy to mean full of bugs, the lad quickly corrected her: “Us can’t see in the clouds.” The touching conversation ended with mom reiterating her love for the son. And that’s what soothed him. Still, with such an inquiring mind, it is improbable that that would be the last word.
On some matters in life, there are no easy answers. When there appears to be one, that’s reason to ponder some more.
Now, from the profound to the earthbound. The drama of tennis star Novak Djokovic’s detention in and expulsion from Australia is one for the ages. And it has stirred passions about right and wrong.
The gist of it is that Australian officials granted Djokovic an exemption from the country’s strict vaccination requirement. However, when he got there, the immigration kept him from heading to play in the Australian Open, of which he is the reigning champion. Their reason? He obtained the exemption by misrepresentation. So, after some back-and-forth court rulings, the Serb was sent packing and denied the opportunity to defend his championship.
Now there are questions about whether the Aussies’ action was draconian. For one thing, it is argued, it is their fault for not checking out the facts about Djokovic before granting him the exemption and visa. The counter argument is that the Aussies are to be commended for not letting Djokovic’s star status carry the day. Besides, he has been a vocal anti-vax activist. To let him play is to be complicit with such activism.
Of all the dramas in this year’s African Cup of Nations tournament, the premature ending of the Group F opener between Mali and Tunisia has to be tops. With Mali leading 1-0, Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe blew the end-of-game whistle. Yet, there were four minutes to go in regulation. When alerted to the error, he restarted the game only to stop it again with 20 seconds to go, and with no injury time.
Furious Tunisian officials lodged a complaint, and the teams were called back to finish the match. The Malians got back to the field but not the irate Tunisians. “We did not want to resume because the players had already taken their baths, deconcentrated and demoralised in the face of this gruesome situation,” Tunisia’s head coach Mondher Kebaier explained later.
Gruesome? Geez. That sounds like a discovery at the Maghreb desert after an ISIS operation. Question: Why did the Tunisians not wait for the outcome of their second complaint? The Malians had every reason to want the game over, yet they got back to the field.
In any case, Essam Abdel-Fatah, the Egyptian head of officiating for the Confederation of African Football, later explained that the referee was apparently disoriented because of a heatstroke and severe dehydration. He was subsequently hospitalised.
That raises another question: Will CAF more closely monitor the physical and psychological condition of referees on and off the field?