The Rubicon

July 30, 2018 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A.
Executive Director

The law in the Roman Republic in 49 B.C. was very clear about an army crossing a small stream outside Rome: it was considered an act of war. Julius Caesar knew this, and led his 13th Legion across that stream, declaring, in the historian Suetonius’ words, “The die is cast!” Caesar and his army did not turn back, but continued on to war, and ultimately defeated Pompey the Great. This turning point in history is referenced whenever we talk about approaching a point of no return and utter the phrase, “crossing the Rubicon.”

“The Rubicon” sculpture (pictured above) by Karen Swenholt brings the idea of crossing a point of no return to our visual space, and provides room for the viewer to consider several points that are often true with such dividing lines in our lives:

A) The red line is rather small; perhaps insignificant?

B) The physical space beyond the red line does not seem appreciably different from the space before the red line.

C) Surely, the person who crosses the red line will, on the far side, be the same person as the one who approached it: is this really true?

Consider these questions as you read . . .

1) Defining Death:

2) Human Genetic Modification:

3) In Vitro Fertilization (IVF):

4) Marijuana Use: