What is life?

*note: I started this post before Ariel Sharon had passed

As my father sinks further into debilitating illness this question has been on my mind a lot as of late. As well as my own reality of aging…and what lies ahead.

And in the past several weeks a number of news stories have caught my attention.

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, and his empassioned/angry rant about his fathers decline- and the illegality of assisted suicide. ( related article )

The case of the girl in Oakland CA who has been declared, by multiple doctors, to be brain dead with her family insisting she is alive and must be maintained by machines.

And former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon who has been kept alive for 8+ years after suffering a stroke and entering a coma. ( article )

I have had dogs and cats all my life. And (I’d like to believe- althought the truth is probably more gray) that I never hesitated to end their sufering when their time came. Something thousands of us do every day.

And yet when it comes to those we love- we can not allow ourselve to end their suffering. (yes- a few states, washington, oregon, montanna, vermont have passed some form of law allowing, in theory, for terminally ill patients [those still able] to end their lives).

And I can’t help but feel our opposition is largely based on the christian belief that “god” owns us and only they can decide to take our lives. But I can;t help but feel the opposite. It is our weakness that stops us from doing the right thing- to end the suffering of those we love.

And let’s not even start on the discussion of the costs to society of keeping people alive by artificial means for no real purpose…

About drugsandotherthings

I am a criminal. Because I have used cannabis and psychedelics extensively. I have tried many other drugs, but never cared for the uppers, downers, or dissociatives. I love craft beer, and absinthe, but don't care much for alcohols effects- which quite frankly, are boring and dangerous. Science is my religion. I am in my 40's, and have travelled extensively. And often forced myself outside of my confort zone. I am employed, a respected member of my communtiy, an animal lover, an environmentalist, a political junkie, and the realities I have experienced continue to push me further to the left of the political spectrum.
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4 Responses to What is life?

  1. Barneysday says:

    And there is the brain-dead woman that the state of Texas is keeping alive because she is 20 weeks pregnant.

    We need to accept that death and dying is part of life, the end of our journey, the beginning of someone else’s. Most often we find that effort to keep “aunt Millie” alive on machines is because of our own guilt in not spending enough time acknowledging them in life.

    Great post, the conversations need to continue

    • Thanks for bringing up the Texas woman- I had seen that story between the time I started this post but forgot it by the time I published it. One of many articles here: http://goo.gl/KSxuZ3

      I think religions have always had to place a prohibition on death- the idea that we are “gods” property- because they conversely promise that death is, or can be (if you live “right) so devine…

  2. List of X says:

    If our lives were “God’s property”, the same Christians who oppose assisted suicide should also oppose death penalty. And I think that people should be free to make decision about when and how their life should end – however, the decision should still be up to the individual as much as possible, partially because putting the family in the position to decide whether to let you live or not is too heavy of a burden There are documents like living wills or health care proxies that every one of us should do while we still can.

  3. thirdnews says:

    I think you are confused with the different dogmas on using artificial means of maintaining life which is not necessarily religiously mandated (dependent on one’s religion), assisted suicide (forbidden in most), and hospice -which is SOP in virtually all religious groups, and involves keeping the person comfortable with drugs but no treatment.

    The only issue I have with the ” by multiple doctors, to be brain dead” is concern over the treatment of the family. It is my experience that physicians let the family have a ‘breathing moment’ to help them adjust, and it seems this wasn’t the case. Further, her death will likely be subject to a lawsuit, and to be brutal, I understand that a legal settlement is less for the deceased than the ongoing care of a comatose patient.

    If the pregnant girl’s family wishes her to deliver, it is their business and not ours.

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