Friday, 22 August 2014

Life, Death and Stupid Paradoxes

The other day I was talking about an old friend of mine who dead early. He was very much loved by his friends and family and it is one of the sadist funerals I’ve been to.

I’ve also had my own brush with death when my ventilator failed suddenly due to a brief power failure in the middle of the night and the backup battery did not come on like it was supposed to. When I woke up surprisingly I wasn’t as scared as I thought it would be. My primary concern was for others how sad my friends and family would be. I was quite shocked by this as I always thought I was an individualist deep down selfish as a two-year-old. Luckily my brother to heard my cries for help, was able to wake my parents and I survived.

Our society approaches life as an individual thing. You own your life and your own your death as well. Society gives us permission to abuse our bodies in any way we see fit from smoking and other drugs, to cosmetic surgery and climbing Mount Everest. But after my brush with death I feel that we actually do have a responsibility to look after ourselves not only because it is good for us, but our friends and family don’t have to see us die before our time.

I know this goes against the core tenets an individualist society but that’s how I feel.

There is one thing that is worse than seeing somebody die and that often is seeing somebody suffer. There is this bizarre paradox in the medical community which is the concept of withdrawal of treatment. For example it is perfectly legal for me to commit suicide. All I have to do is ask someone to switch my ventilator off. And I do know of people that have done just this.

You, most likely, don’t have the ability to commit suicide legally and you certainly can’t get somebody to help you. The paradox in this is: if you push someone off a cliff is it a homicide or is it simply removal of needed under foot support? How is this different from switching somebody’s ventilator off?

It’s legal to starve a peg fed person to death if that’s what they ask for, but not legal to allow someone who can eat normally to starve themselves to death. It’s completely ridiculous. Why aren’t we allowed to end people’s suffering in a reasonable way? It’s good enough for our pets? What makes us special?

The status quo just keeps going as people are frankly too scared to talk about death (its struggle for me to write this). Our outdated laws don’t affect the vast majority of us and many of our politicians put their religious beliefs ahead of what the majority of us want.

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