Questioning the Right to Life and Death

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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

Shadows

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It was a starless night. The wind howled like a lone wolf outside and the little filtered by the mosquito net barring the window carried the promise of a heavy downpour. We gathered inside the tiny room housing two of us as was our ritual, were we would talk about everything and nothing in particular. A candle stood regally upon the study table, casting its warm glow upon the room and beside it sat a Bible in its divine glory, one of the most show-cased and least opened books.

They said I never say much. I smiled. As always there was little to say. We were but different people brought together by providence. They talked about study, boys, family, religion, food, sex, love. I smiled and laughed on cue, all the time thinking of how much we had changed.

Yes, there was always so much to talk about. The conversation went on around me, one minute building into a crescendo, followed by a barrage of laughter and the next, a sound no louder than a whisper.

I looked to my right and sniffed the air again, rain. Then a muffled sound snapped me out of my reverie. I held my breath as my heart raced and adrenaline pumped into my muscles numbed from sitting Buddha style. Something was out there. The conversation went on, and into fear grappled mind words finally began to filter through: slut…not so beautiful…poorly dressed…likes men…sleeps…lecturers…

I shook my head to clear my mind and turned back to my companions. Lightening flashed and from the corner of my eyes I caught a glimpse of a silhouette huddled behind the door.

Few minutes after the door opened and she strutted into the room. A quick glance at her downcast eyes confirmed my already budding suspicion. She’d been listening. I glanced at my companions who moments ago struck by dumbness, so artfully recovered and now launched into new horizons like they weren’t moments ago gossiping about our once absent friend. She flopped on the mattress and joined in the conversation, her sentences so often punctuated by childlike laughter.

I wondered at humans– the length we would go to make ourselves feel better. How easy it was to misunderstand others simply because they lived different lives from ours, or at least what we are used to having around us. Why it was so easy to forgive a child for being too trusting, looking at the world like a playground, and choosing to see only the inherent good in others; while with adults we brand them honorary titles like slut. But do we really grow out of our childish nature or does our shell just grow bigger? Do we don new clothes, fresh masks every day, live like society dictates and find a drug for our unhappiness and frustration? We carry bibles; hide behind religion or whatever else makes us feel good, pretending to be upright, but inside we are simply a bitter lot, people very much unsatisfied with life, hoping for redemption.

Behind each girl was a story– experiences, mistakes, choices, life. I saw dreams that could best be likened to fairy tales woven in the web of time and left to gather dust because of fear– fear of society, and fear of the unknown. But she was different, brave. So much had changed around her but she seemed untouched. She’d wrapped her past around her but was never deterred by it. She was life. She was like the candle: tall, regal, warm and full of light.

The flame flickered, casting a shadow. Its light shifting, changing, and then it was back to normal.

From across the room our eyes met and held. She regarded me briefly and I read the unspoken questions in them. I burned in shame. Then slowly her lips curved into a smile and I knew all was forgiven.

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I wrote this a year ago (June 2014) and since my brain is slightly short-circuited right now, I figured it worth digging up stuff from my archive. This was one of my earlier attempts writing something that looked like a story, 🙂 I can’t tell if I succeeded or not so you can be the judge.

See you around.

Are You An Old Soul? (On Reincarnation And Spirituality)

It’s a common belief in this part of the world—Africa—and certain religious circles—Hinduism and Buddhism—that the souls of loved ones who pass away reincarnate i.e. are reborn into this word. As a Christian, I am hard-pressed to disbelieve this, but some things happen that make me rethink my position. Continue reading

Religion, Faith, And The Ministry Of Fear

Photo credit: christianfunnypictures(dot)com
Photo credit: christianfunnypictures(dot)com

How strange is it that those who should have the greatest weapon of war, turn out to be the most fearful?

Few weeks ago on my way to work, I mounted a bike that left my trouser legs begging for a wash. On alighting I asked the driver for permission to use his rag to wipe my mud stains from my cloth. On finishing a middle aged man called my attention and said, “Next time use your own handkerchief.” When I inquired as to why he would suggest that, his response bordered on some fetish practices peculiar to the people of Western Nigeria (well, all of Nigeria if I may say, but I happened to be in the West).

This got me thinking. Continue reading

The Queerness That Is Africa

 

the queer Africa

I am African, but more brown than black–the kind my people like to call ‘chocolate’, even though those are traditionally of a darker shade. Perhaps we are colour blind, or maybe the word ‘chocolate’ just sounds very cool.

Continue reading

Introspection: Blurred Lines

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Dear God,
I should start by saying thank you, shouldn’t I? For the things done of which I know of, and those I’m totally clueless about. So, thank you.
I am addressing this to you because there really isn’t anyone else I can tell this who will make a remarkable difference.

See, you gave me this really great personality. You know the kind that morphs and shifts all the time so it’s easier to relate with different kind of people? And a mind like a sponge. I can soak up a lot of information–sometimes I’m not even aware it’s happening, then everything comes tumbling out when they’re needed, and I’m like “Holy smokes! I know this?” But you know all these already, don’t you? You know everything.

You know the circumstances surrounding my birth. You know how a blissfully happy, ignorant childhood was ripped off. You know how hard I have had to struggle with knowing you, getting really angry with you for letting all those things happen–not just to me, but the people I love–and you know my anger was outright fueled by the fact that the lives of these people I cared about affected me in more ways than one. See? You made me like this, and I’m not sure what to do with it.
So I change personalities as much as Mercy Johnson changes characters in her movies. I’m afraid somewhere in the mix I lost total sight of who I really was. Now I’m more concerned who I am, and who I want to always be.

But that isn’t everything. I really need to know why you love me this much. Why? I feel totally unworthy, and yet I have this feeling you’ve been holding on so tight and yelling “I will not let you go!”
I think that’s great because I find myself slipping in more ways than one. I’m really not sure what’s happening, but I don’t like it one bit. Some of these people I have become in the past didn’t make me feel good about myself, or you either and I honestly want to please you. I guess you know that. Somehow I think maybe that’s why you have been holding on to me. You see the heart of man, while people look at physical appearance and actions. You understand the struggles–physical, mental, emotional–we face everyday, and you judge our actions based on that. I have slipped a hundred times already, and yet I feel you close by with your hand outstretched asking me to hold on. I haven’t.

Lord, I’m lost and in need of help. I mean the kind of help where you send a legion of Angels to minister. But most importantly, I need you. Just you. I have all these ‘depth'(like he calls it) that I can’t even begin to understand….don’t know what to do with it. But you know. Could you show me please? Will you take my hand and lead the way? Will you help me find me? The lines are blurred, and I see nothing.
Help me dear Lord, please?