by Imogen Ashby
I don't know what I believe, yet, I've been told that all creatures have souls. I've questioned this, I admit, but I do conclude that there must be something right at the centre of us that makes us keep on living.
I know in medical terms that is, of course, the heart, yet I can feel something deep in the pit of my stomach that makes me, me. Something that's more than personality traits and the ability to enable ourselves to love others; something that truly is soul-wrenching.
These jars of muscle and bone have helped thousands of medical students in many centuries passed to understand the bewildering and fascinating anatomy of which humans and animals alike are composed of. They can see for themselves how a certain blood vessel leads through the chest or how nerves wind their way up the spinal chord without having to wait for a donor to die and give up their body to medicine to be torn apart by curious and clueless students. These jars stop unnecessary dissections because they're there to be observed, but they have been frozen in one position for the whole past and the future in which they'll still be trapped. Medical students can't explore the way they want to as they cannot interfere with the chemicals or remove the specimen from its coffin or else it will disintegrate with its first breath of air after death. The jars are the most useful, effective and convenient way to learn other than a real body covered by a polypropylene body bag.
But my mind cannot stop wandering back to the thought that whatever is inside that jar of preservatives, although no longer living, still wishes to escape the trap in which it was forced.
When it lived it had others it loved and looked out for, and when it perished I'm sure that it would wish for a better afterlife than the one it has now, all this time later.
It is my belief that when it was placed into that jar, it severed all its ties with humanity.
Furthermore, I conclude that it's soul is trapped in that jar with it for all eternity. Who it once was and all the connections it had are in there having never said a proper farewell. The deer with eight legs, the miscarried baby that was not yet named, the conjoined twins that never opened their eyes and never saw the world are all squeezed into jars they barely fit in staring at the faces peering in, revolted at what they are stood in front of.
This is no Heaven. This is a human induced hell, screams and pleas of help called from every medical school shelf.
Yet it has been the way of learning for hundreds of years, curiosity and science overrules the ethical views of life and death, taking a life if it feels the need; acting God.
As a potential medical student I truly support the use of these organisms, but one can only wonder as to wether they still cling to the remnants of their disintegrated souls and yearn for an afterlife that was torn right from their clutches.
Is it ethical? No.
But think how far behind we would be with all our medical break-throughs without these tortured souls.