Monday, March 07, 2005


Sickness - body, soul, culture

Ronan Mullen writes:

We want to deny ageing, sickness and death more than we ever did before. It’s not just that many of us botox our bodies out of their natural state. Sick and elderly people are made to believe they are a burden on society or their relatives and are encouraged to despise their condition. In Holland, what started out as ‘mercy killing’ soon became voluntary euthanasia. Before long, it wasn’t even the elderly person’s call any more. Now relatives and friends are the ones to determine a sick person’s ‘best interests’. Involuntary euthanasia is widespread and some old people in Holland prefer to attend doctors over the border in Germany because they are apprehensive about what might happen locally. Meanwhile, Britain’s best-known bioethicist, Baroness Warnock, who was feted by the Irish Commission for Assisted Human Reproduction at a recent conference here, has suggested that elderly people should request euthanasia rather than linger on as a burden on their families.

I have a friend who had a really bad case of Gillian Barre, that left her unable to walk, with limited use of her hands, but a very sound mind. She is officially a quadreplegic. And yet, because she has a husband that loves her and takes care of her, kindly, even acting as her assistant at work for those tasks that her hands can't manage, she has a rich and full life.

Some people would think she should ask to die because they don't want to think of life that way (or perhaps because they think that being such a burden on her husband is unfair, or just on general principles that the handicapped are somehow less deserving of living.)

When it is your turn to face that time of weakness, of being frail and vunerable, sick, but yet still able to contribute, loving your grandchildren, your spouse, the light of a summer's day, your favorite movie, do you want them to come and tell you it's time to go? Just because you're in the way?

This is the direction the world is heading. And it's a sadness.

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