Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To Suffer or Die?

Sir Edward Downes, the former conductor of Britain's Royal Opera made a sucide pact with his wife, a former ballerina who had been diagnosed with terminal liver and pancreatic cancer. They decided that life without each other would be unbearable and decided to end it together in a manner of their choosing. Strict British laws on assisted suicide prompted them to fly to the more lenient climes of Switzerland. They went to clinic in Zurich by the name of Dignitas, where for a fee of $7000 the group arranges for death by barbiturate. The couple paid the fee and took their lives. Nice and easy and supposedly civilized. I am sure a lot of people would find this romantic but I thought it was creepy as hell.

Ordinarily I am pro - choice but there is something about the idea of assisted suicide or euthanasia or whatchamacallit that really freaks me out. Sure the idea is to put a dog or a horse out of its misery when it is past help but it will be a bleak day for human beings when it is declared that they deserve nothing more or less than animals (Some day the Blue Cross is gonna get me).

Yeah, yeah there are many arguments for euthanasia - sometimes people wanna die with dignity, the staggering medical costs will bankrupt their families etc. etc. But the moral boundaries become increasingly blurred when we walk down this road. When I was in college, I used to take the train to get home. And I have lost track about the number of oldies who cribbed to me about how callous and materialistic their children have become. One fella refused to come for his mother's funeral because he was too miserly to cough up the money for flight tickets from the U. S. of A. Imagine that! What about those who are in a hurry to come into their inheritance without blowing it up on medical fees? I shudder to think of what would would happen if such people were given the power to decide if their ageing folks were to live or die!

If we relax the laws on euthanasia, I am sure there will be a time when we decide to abandon old folks on the inhospitable slopes of the Himalayas or Mount Fuji or whichever geographical terrain than can serve as a dumping ground for the aged. It is too bad that are fear of growing old and dying should manifest itself in such inhuman ways. A slow and painful death brought on by old age is hardly the best way to go but I am not sure a cup of barbiturate is the answer. Dylan Thomas may not agree but perhaps it is best to go gently into that good night. Without any assistance, thank you.


  1. loved reading your post..it's sad folks become so indifferent to the people who gave them the gift of life..
    would love to follow your blog...:)

  2. If someone has the maturity to choose to die at a time/situation of their choice (in the absence of any external stimulus), so be it - More power to them. I certainly would not be able to do it. I think you romanticize life too much. Who knows what lies beyond?

  3. What lies beyond? Now that is food for thought.