Yeah, ok, the title of this very article has a spoiler in it. But then, every article in cyberspace reviewing Will Smith’s “Seven Pounds” has given away the plot twist. Without wanting to elaborate too much on the premise or the surprise, let’s take ourselves back to the time when you first received your driver’s license. Mind you, I’m talking about those (like me) who received their driver’s license within the last 10-15 years and were subsequently asked at the DMV counter one personal question: Do you want your license to indicate you as an organ donor? Some might not hesitate to answer in the affirmative. Then you have others who turn into Hamlet and have to ponder an answer to arguably one of the deepest philosophical questions of our modern times.
Why wouldn’t someone want to donate their organs should they have the misfortune of dying in a car accident? Some people still can’t get past the idea of, after death, their vital organs being placed into another human being. It’s possible the stories of individuals getting donated organs having memories of the previous person have haunted too many individuals sensitive to the issue. While many of those stories are obviously still under speculative science, we’ve heard inexplicable cases of people having dreams or memories of an unknown dead person who previously owned the former’s new heart, kidney or liver.
When there could be a reality to acquiring a part of the previous person who donated their vital organs to a person they never knew in life, it makes it a lot more complicated for people to answer an off-the-cuff “yes or no” question, particularly a profound question asked across a counter at the DMV. You’ll also to answer the question in front of gawkers waiting in the waiting room behind you.
Equate this to attempting to answer the meaning of life in front of a group of intellectual superiors. When you can’t answer or just give a “no”, it’s not out of the question you’ll get a berated look from a group of individuals who think you’re a heel. But at least the person who asks the question allows you to become Hamlet and think it over…sometimes up to several years.
In my own admittance, when I was asked by the typical DMV clerk whether I wanted to be listed as an organ donor when I first obtained my driver’s license, I almost went into the famous Hamlet soliloquy whether I should be or not (to be). My ultimate answer was “I have to give it some thought.” With that, the DMV clerk amiably accepted my answer, and I didn’t turn around to see what the reaction was from the crowd waiting to be helped. I’m still not even sure that small audience heard my answer, even though name one DMV office that doesn’t have the waiting room right by the counter where those waiting can hear almost everything, including watching you as you get your license picture taken.
Well, if you can get past the nightmarish world of the DMV, there’s also the scenario of donating your organs while you’re still alive. While most people who put that “yes” on their driver’s license as a donor seem to prefer to have their organs donated in death, you may just find some out there willing to donate a kidney, a lung or some other organ (no, don’t go there) that can be sacrificed for another person without it killing the giver.
While I promised to keep the spoiler of “Seven Pounds” to a minimum, let’s just say that the movie may inspire people to do the above scenario due to so many sick people having to wait unfairly too long for an organ transplant when they desperately need one…
Let’s be pleased that a movie might incite people to do goodwill for once rather than persuade someone to go out and raise hell. The better news is that Will Smith’s “Seven Pounds” isn’t being chided by the critics for being maudlin either. Even so, the question is whether people will really have the guts to give away their internal organs in life rather than death. People getting adamant over that might incite doctors and other health officials to balk at the idea of too many trying it when it could lead to serious complications in some people. If nothing else, it might bring individuals who’ve been on the fence about being an organ donor in potential death to change that “no” to a “yes” on their driver’s license.
And if people get too much into the profundities of whether a part of themselves will somehow transmit into the mind of an unknown organ recipient, keep in mind that it may not necessarily be a real-time consciousness behind those memories as if a form of reincarnation. There could be real science involved in an organ donor’s memories (or maybe personality characteristics) being transferred into the other person’s bloodstream and changing the recipient’s personality in interesting ways.
Frankly, “Seven Pounds” could have explored that and still have been a moving film. At least it’ll get people (yes, like me) thinking more about the ultimate philosophical question. Even Hamlet managed to find an answer amid all his thinking. I nevertheless and begrudgingly admit that I’m still thinking about putting the “yes” on my driver’s license after all this time. No, I won’t let a movie persuade me to make the decision.
Whatever your philosophy on donating your organs in life or death, we can safely add the philosophical debate behind it as one of the biggest questions in a person’s life. It only makes it more complicated when there isn’t a precedent for it in biblical times or any other point in history when medical science isn’t where it is now…