Questioning the Right to Life and Death

dying-flower.jpg

The question of death is a universal one. The question of who owns life is a bigger one. What exists beyond our consciousness, and how do we determine the existence of the afterlife? However, there is another issue I’m more concerned about and it is the quality of our life and how much control we exert over it.

If man was made to inhabit the earth, should he not also rightfully acquire a certain quality of life that makes his stay, or existence as many might put it, worthwhile. I have long maintained that our happiness and satisfaction are moving targets, ever-changing the older we get. As a subscriber to the Christian doctrine, and a believer of the utmost lordship of God over a man’s life, I am also pressed to agree with the position that the one who gives life also holds the authority, alone, to take it.

Despite, I find myself questioning this authority, and the laws of the State to protect the lives of her citizens from danger—including danger to self. This danger apparently includes taking one’s own life.

“Why does a man destroy himself or what destroys him? I would have to judge that suicide is mostly the tool of the thinking man. The right to suicide should be the same as the right to love.”
― Charles Bukowski

The question of a right to wield power over one’s own mortality pose an ethical and moral dilemma. On the one hand there is the issue of creationism, and on the other the question of choice. Should a person who has been brought to this world without their permission be granted the choice to stay or leave it?

Parents have an obligation to provide for their children and give them as fair an advantage as they can afford. They are also expected to give the best quality of life within their reach. The State is sworn to protecting that life, too, within the ambit of the law. As a result we have balanced individuals, matured and capable of deciding at some point in their lives what quality of living, made available to them, suits them most. Some aspire to live quietly; others look forward to an adventurous life. And some prefer a balance of both.

So what happens when this choice is threatened? Should the individual go on living a life below the quality they desire? Should they adjust their preferences, and perhaps, play at trying something new to satisfy the State’s responsibility to keep people alive and at no danger to themselves? Should people keep on living because their loved ones insist?

“There is a certain right by which we many deprive a man of life, but none by which we may deprive him of death; this is mere cruelty.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I am aware that within some states in the USA, laws have been enacted that legalize physician-assisted suicides, in so far as the individuals involved are capable of making the decision on their own; have been given a six months prognosis or less, and are capable of administering for themselves a lethal dose. This is quite similar to what Swiss’ Dignitas offers: an opportunity to live with dignity and die with dignity.

It’s everything I believe life should offer—the choice to live as you want and enjoy the most of it while here. Death comes soon enough, and there’s no saying we’ll know when that will happen. But in a world filled with many uncertainties with little within our control, every man should be allowed, at the very least, a chance to live with dignity and die the same. Not ravaged by sickness, or abject poverty, or a life that appears to head nowhere.

While I understand the need for people to live with hope in their hearts; the unwavering belief that someday, somehow, things will get better, should the peculiar minority who don’t feel that way be subjected to the whims of the majority who do?

To whose benefit is it when we attempt at shoving our moral compasses on others who do not share our views on death and the right to it?

Again, I am a Christian, but over the past few months I have found myself pondering this. I don’t have the answers, and I know this is a difficult topic, but if the legislative bodies all over the world are beginning to reconsider their stance on assisted suicide in medical cases, perhaps it’s also time that we as a people began considering it, too—outside our current ethical and moral boundaries, above our fears of questioning the norm, and beyond the medical bracket.

 

Further reading (links open in new tab)

Physician-Assisted suicide: Legality and Morality

Assisted-suicide: A right or a wrong?

Should I help my patients die?

Quotes

Photo credit: Tumblr

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5 thoughts on “Questioning the Right to Life and Death

  1. makagutu August 14, 2017 / 10:55 am

    Hello Uju.
    What a pleasant read.
    I think suicide should not be criminalized. If one doesn’t ask to be born, at least let them have the right to chose when to quit.

    Like

    • uju August 16, 2017 / 7:39 am

      Well, I sometimes feel the same way, too. But do you ever wonder as to the ethical side of suicide? Or at the very least why nationals criminalise it?

      Like

      • makagutu August 17, 2017 / 8:56 am

        I have debated on the ethical side of not allowing suicide. Are we prepared to deal with the reasons why a person wanted to commit suicide, in case we persuade them against it?
        That, for me, is the bigger ethical question.
        Why do nations criminalize drugs?

        Like

  2. Ann Coleman August 12, 2017 / 4:20 pm

    You’ve raised some excellent points here! I am also a Christian, but I have come to believe that in certain circumstances, assisted suicide is okay. I think there have to be restrictions to make sure it is not being done just because the person is depressed (I know far too many people who have lost a loved one to suicide to not realize the pain and devastation that leaves behind), but because the person is in pain and there really is no hope for anything to improve.
    It’s just my opinion, but I honestly don’t think that goes against God’s will. It is helping end someone’s suffering and allowing them to die with dignity and some sense of control, and I see that as a good thing. Death is the natural end to all of us, as you say, and I sometimes think we fear it too much.
    I’m not putting any of this nearly as eloquently as you did, but I do want to thank you for a thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju August 16, 2017 / 7:44 am

      Determining God’s will at this point is… I don’t know. Perhaps it’ll be nice if he just told us.
      I’ve raised this topic among a Christian fellowship and everyone told me it was sinful. That was a year ago. So basically this post took me a full year to write because I’ve spent the time looking for more context and hoping I’ll see something they saw.

      It still hasn’t changed. I think it’d cruel to let people suffer. But then we talk about Jesus and hope for the suffering and I’m torn between giving them respite and leaving them to God or their choices.

      I do hope we come to a point in life where issues like these are freely discussed, though. There are many out there who suffer for our silence.

      Always nice to have you, Ann.

      Like

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