By Roy D. Follendore III
Copyright (c) 2001 by RDFollendoreIII
September 8, 2001
This morning I saw one of those polls being conducted on the Internet. This one was a Scientific American version. It asked the question: Should euthanasia be legal?
I feel sure that everyone who has been reading this publication for decades already know that the articles and the format have really been reduced to mush from what they once were. It would seem that they do not understand the concept of set theory. They also don't seem to understand the complications of nonscientific questions they choose to put in their survey.
Right or wrong, the States already have a legal right to murder citizens. You may choose to call it execution if it makes you feel better. The fact remains that a human life is taken against their will. Right or wrong the Federal Government has exactly the same legal right. In addition, the Federal Government has the right to send millions to their death by calling murder, war.
It is a fact that some of the people that our Government exercises this ultimate authority over simply want to die. They are either sick of living on death row, or mentally ill (by clinical but not legal standards), tired of living a life where they have been constantly abused or are abusing others, or they are just physically sick. Eventually, for what ever reason, people get tired existing. In an open society one might get over this attitude by finding something else in life that is worth while. But death row prisoners don't have this luxury.
Before you hard liners one way or the other on the subject get all up in arms about the notion I am bringing up, you should consider that I am saying is completely independent of the question: Is it just and right, or moral to execute (murder) prisoners? I am also not discussing the fact that some percentage of crimes were not committed by the prisoners who are being punished. However, if it is true that even some of the prisoners who are legally executed are prepared to die, then the answer to the question of the legalization of euthanasia is obvious. Euthanasia is already legal. Our State and Federal governments have the right to help others die and they defend that right in the name of "justice".
Euthanasia is a subset of killing a sentient living thing, and that is the fundamental concept of both murder and execution. We can mince words all we want to make ourselves feel better about having a responsibility to take a life but the truth is that at the present time our society does not delegate the right to murder. Of course only a few people die on death row in comparison to those who die in hospitals. Prisoners can be executed for crimes our society believes they committed beyond a reasonable doubt, but our Mothers and Fathers, Brothers and Sisters who are without a doubt suffering as they die are not allowed the right to decide they need help. Where did the concept of justice go?
I can't believe in my heart that when a family member watches over a prolonged and agonizing death of a loved one they cannot at least consider helping in that process. I know that when my Mother died of cancer my sisters and I thought about it. When nurses finally allow the family to participate in pain control they are deliberately inviting that question. Eventually one of the nurses in the Hospital staff deliberately tells the family how much medication is too much and walk out of the room. "Press this IV button no more than once or twice, press it five time and death will occur in a few minutes." They make it your choice, not theirs.
The Doctor probably walked away from my Mother's death to avoid the personal and professional liability and turned the problem over to the nurse. The nurse walked away to give the responsibility to the family. It was all very carefully ethical and legal. There was no doubt in my mind that I was given the instrument to murder my Mother and it is exactly the concept of these words I am using that prevented me from taking her life. I watched my Mother die over several days because I could not press that button.
I am not proud of that. I am a retired soldier and I have little doubt that there was a time that I could have murdered my enemy as I was trained. But to this day, I have felt deeply responsible for the way that my Mother died, though in my heart I still don't think I could have done anything differently. I just don't think I could have lived with myself had I done what was necessary. I sat there through the endless hours of those nights breathing with her rhythm until she had passed. After that moment I was so upset I could not go to her funeral. Instead I went home and flew my Cessna at sunset over the mountain range that my Mother loved so much, where I scattered a lock of her hair.
Should euthanasia be legal? I don't know the answer to that, but I do know without a doubt that it is. I also know it isn't a question that belongs on the web pages of Scientific American. Science may be able to help us determine if we are inconsistent but it can not tell us what is in the hearts of man. Science is not a set onto it's own, it a subset of mankind.
My dilemma was expressed in my poem at her bedside, which even today, depending on my emotional state is sometimes too powerful for me to read. www.noisetoknowledge.com/my_mothers_death.htm It apparently has impacted others lives because the poem is one that is most often read on this website. WWW.NoiseToKnowledge.com .
Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved