Sunday, May 10, 2015

Death and Dignity


A longing for the end, a flash of awareness, and eternal stillness.   That’s how I would like my death to be.

Not only life but death also must have dignity.  I have been a staunch supporter of euthanasia for this one reason alone.  The moment I broach the topic of euthanasia people run away.  Death is a topic nobody apparently wants to discuss.  Is death so abhorrent or alarming?

“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens,” said Woody Allen facetiously.  Most people seem to be afraid of death.  Life has a natural tendency to prolong itself however agonising it may be.  The survival instinct is the strongest instinct in any living organism.  But that cannot wish away death.  Death is inevitable.  What is inevitable has to be accepted.  Graceful acceptance of the inevitable is an integral part of dignity.

But graceful acceptance is not enough.  One should be allowed to die when one chooses.  No conditions attached.  No questions asked.  It is the individual’s choice.

I can hear infinite voices now falling on me like a barrage of bombs asking how the potential misuse of this liberty can be prevented.  It cannot be, that’s the blunt answer.  We cannot prevent the misuse of anything.  Haven’t we been misusing technology ever since it revealed itself to mankind?  Haven’t we been using technology more for destruction and killing, for inhuman wars most of which were fought in the names of bizarre gods?  Haven’t we been misusing our gods and their religions for centuries? 

We can adulterate the food we are giving to others bringing slow death upon them.  We can throw infinite amounts of electronic and plastic waste into the environment subjecting our beautiful planet to slow death.  We can murder the infant in the womb of its mother.  We can stifle people’s liberty in the name of all sorts of ideals and policies.  We have perpetrated explicit genocides and we continue to do it subtly even now.

And we have the temerity to argue that voluntary death should not be made an individual liberty!  We are cowards.  We are hypocrites.  Let’s face it.

I’m not advocating suicide.  Far from it, I love life.  I uphold the right to live with dignity.  The moment I realise that I cannot continue my life with dignity any more I should be permitted to die.  Who can object to that?  Why should anyone object to that?  Why should anyone wish to see me undergoing unnecessary agony merely for the sake of prolonging something that I am not interested in anymore? 

Recently I was informed about a religious group in Kerala that offers special prayers for the terminally ill so that they could achieve a “peaceful death”.  Isn’t that euthanasia?  And a terribly hypocritical one?  In a case that was reported to me the same person who paid the religious group for the prayers was also paying the doctors for the medical treatments of the dying person!  The person knew that the patient was bearing with an excruciating pain and wished to put an end to it.  But he couldn’t muster the courage to end the unnecessary medication which merely protracted the pain and did nothing more.   That would be a cardinal sin before his God.  That would be a crime before the law of his country.  So he decided to ask God to do the job for him.  Asking God to be a murderer!

I know my argument can sound inhuman, shocking, or even criminal.  I can only repeat with full sincerity that I love life.  I respect life.  It is that love and that respect that make me want to choose my death.  Mine.  Not anybody else’s.  Mine alone.  When the time comes.


PS. Provoked by Ravish Mani’s theme [#PlanUrDeath] at indiblogger.

18 comments:

  1. I agree that I want to die in peace, in a second and gone!
    Euthanasia is a concept that many fear but I kind of undestand the point there, if a person is going through such pain and if that person wishes to opt for Euthanasia then that is the right thing to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the endorsement. Let me add that pain can be psychological too.

      Delete
  2. A very good topic Tomichan. I think people detest the word euthanasia. Euthanasia is accepted and it is not just those who are on the death bed who need it. Euthanasia is practiced in many forms by healthy individuals too like smoking, drinking, following some decadent customs etc. etc. A majority of the things that the society has accepted today amounts to euthanasia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Once again, I'm happy to see another Individual who understands me.

      The society of ours is actually practising mass murder, not even euthanasia. Yet they are opposed to euthanasia merely because of hypocrisy.

      And let me assure you, you will find the lousiest hypocrites among those wearing religious habits.

      Delete
  3. It doesn't sound inhuman or criminal to me. I'm not against euthanasia. It is worse to force people to endure pain when they could just let go of it all and die peacefully.
    But then sometimes I wonder if in the name of euthanasia we'll see new crimes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We will, DN. That's one of the points I'm raising.

      Delete
  4. The thing that struck me the most was 'asking God to be a murderer'. Very controversial view. But I like it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Controversy is my sustenance, Brendan :)

      Delete
  5. Perfectly logical points Sir. I agree to your views...why to have a person suffer infinitely and let other's suffer along!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am emboldened, Alok. I had not expected readers to support my views. There's hope for me, and India, I think.

      Delete
  6. I agree with this point of view. If a terminally old patient wants to end life to shorten the suffering, then it makes more sense to grant the wish rather than offering prayers for death.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Precisely. Thank you for the endorsement. It does mean a lot.

      Delete
  7. very well written..great read

    ReplyDelete
  8. What’s the difference between suicide and euthanasia except that suicide sounds ugly and euthanasia sounds fancy?

    Well, he who loves life can only plan his death. He knows that death is also a part of his life – its end. I liked these lines of yours: “Graceful acceptance of the inevitable is an integral part of dignity.” and “It is that love and that respect that make me want to choose my death.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Ravish, there is really no difference between suicide and self- chosen euthanasia. By the latter for me is redemption of the self while the former is a surrender of the self to challenges, a capitulation. Big difference.

      Delete
    2. Well, how is euthanasia redemption; why not surrender of self to challenges? If a person cannot bear a pain and decided to end his life, it's also a kind of surrender to challenges, I think.

      Delete
  9. I have always been a supporter of euthanasia because I never understood why anyone would want to keep a person alive who has to crawl each day and beg God for death. Everyone should have the right to die with dignity and peace.

    ReplyDelete