Murder is “the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S., special statutory definitions include murder committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime, as robbery or arson (first-degree murder), and murder by intent but without deliberation or premeditation (second-degree murder).” It is easy to see why the Maxims would have us shun murder based on this definition. But what is harder to see is whether other forms of killing another human being are also to be shunned in the same way if there is not a statutory prohibition against them.
This is especially true with one of the hot-button topics of the times within which I am writing this – legal abortion. There are many people in our society today who consider any form of abortion to be equivalent to murder. And, because of this, I have given thought to what actually constitutes “the killing of another human being”. I especially have had to think about it as the mother of a child who underwent a ‘high-risk’ pregnancy’ because of my age. It is MY stance that if a child is able to live outside of the mother’s womb, it is a person, but until that time – legally – I have to say otherwise. Emotionally, of course, is another matter but I am trying to deal with a volatile issue. I cannot judge another woman’s circumstances in her making a decision either for or against abortion as it is NOT MY LIFE that is affected by the decision.
The death penalty is another issue that some people will define as a form of murder that I cannot consider to be such. If a crime is committed which a judge and jury deem heinous enough for this penalty, then the LAW defines it as not being murder. It is the law where we must turn for this definition, because the death penalty does require the killing of another human being.
There is a lot more to this maxim than meets the eye, and I may return to this in another blog after I am finished going through the list of the Delphic Maxims.