Euthanasia has often been referred to as a "mercy killing," ending another's life to prevent them from suffering any more of life's ills. But more than that, it has always been held as a sad good-bye, providing material for haunting nightmares, the act of the killing itself just as necessary as death is to life. The sight of our loved one, slowly passing away from this world, with little hope, will forever be remembered. When the darkness basks our world in night, and those evil thoughts that taunted during the day come out, when we have no one, we will be forced to face the question: did the experiences of our beloved amount to what they would have called a "good life"? How will I answer this question when I am finally on that last breath? Anyone who has ever known a loved one to be in suffering, to be enduring great misery -- pains that no anesthetic can touch, hurt that no physician can cure, ailment that no medicine will alleviate -- anyone who has known such a loved one can find no objection to Euthanasia. No one's heart will rely on philosophical arguments or social rules when they hear the screams of their children, or their parents, crying for relief from the horrors of life. It does not go to the questions asked by Socrates or Plato or Hume, but it goes to the answers needed by the heart and the soul -- it is not a matter of the opinion developed over the course of thousands of years, but a matter of how we learn to see the pain of others.
I support Euthanasia, but I do so only on account that I have heard the screams of the suffering; I have felt the trembling hands of those in agony. I have seen things that have turned a savage to a tumult of tears. This world has envisioned many cruelties in all sorts of manifestations. When a person is forced to live their life, their face ablaze with all the signs of pain -- tears, grimacing, panting -- and when they must live their life like this, day after day, week after week, month after month, nothing but pain and then more pain -- what is this existence? Is it life with dignity? But throw the question of dignity and respect aside. When a person is suffering greatly, and there is nothing to cure their distress, and when, finally, they prefer non-existence to the life they are living, why at all should we deny them their right to death? What brutal and vicious justification can defend the idea that we must make them suffer? Whatever the justification, it will not come from the mouth of the person in great suffering -- it will not come from those who must listen to the screams of these cursed with life everyday. There are two reasons why any person would defend Euthanasia: reason dictates it, or their own experience with it. When an individual's life consists of days of suffering, sleeping in a bed of tears, waking with the taste of blood in your mouth, and there is the chance to end their suffering by ending their life -- when this happens, life becomes infinitely simple and infinitely complex: Consumerist desires for a car, a television set, or some such, these desires die, but in their place, we know that someone we love is in terrible misery and we know there is a way to end it. It certainly is not an easy decision, but those euthanizing their greatest friends will be the first to say it is the right one.
After the decision to allow a severely brain damaged child to die was reached, one pediatric neurologist commented...
In 1973, George Zygmaniak was injured in a Motorcycle accident in New Jersey. He was totally paralyzed from the neck down. He begged his doctor and his brother Lester to kill him. The hospital told Lester that the chances of recovery were very unlikely. Lester smuggled a gun into the hospital, where he said to his brother: "I am here to end your pain, George. Is it all right with you?" George, unable to speak because of an operation, nodded. Lester shot his brother through the temple. [Act of Love, by Paige Mitchell, New York, 1976. Also, the New York Times, 1, 3, and 6 of November, 1973.] Spina Bifida is a condition that occurs to infants, where the spine and the spinal cord are not fully formed. In some instances, it will permanently paralyze the child from waist down. They will lack bladder or bowel controls. In other cases, intellectual disabilities will develop, due to excess fluid accumulating in the brain. For these sufferers to be kept alive, they must have major surgery often, sometimes forty times before the individual has reached the adolescent years. This is, of course, given the fact that the infant survives.
These are cases where I Euthanasia have been used. One of the primary arguments against Euthanasia is that it degrades human life, that it is always wrong and immoral to end another human's life, no matter what the circumstances. To these people, I ask them to hold their friend's trembling hand, as they go through months and possibly years of life, suffering, pleading always that someone will take away their misery. To these people, I ask them to try to raise a child with the disability of Spina Bifida, to wake up every morning to see your own child struggle with the immense suffering overcoming them -- almost monthly to take them to the hospital so that they can have a major surgery -- everyday to see a disease wreak havoc on the body of your child, as it becomes more and more debilitating. To anyone who believes that "human dignity," or any insane version of this concept, is more important than a suffering person's right to end their own existence, I ask them to go through the experience of knowing a friend whose existence is no more than pain -- to know the meaning of suffering, told through unstable eyes, forever imprisoned in the jail of misery. I will offer my brotherhood and justice to any being that can feel emotions. If a person is in great suffering and there is no outlook for improvement upon the horizon, and they wish to end their own life, then I see no reason at all to deny them this right. I could not care less if this violates any principle of "human dignity" or some such nonsense -- I will stand by my friends and loved ones no matter what they go through; justice is something I will never abandon. To those who speak of "human dignity" as an opposite of Euthanasia, it is irrelevant. Those people are suffering from debilitating diseases and wish for their lives to end, the "human dignity" argument holds no credibility. Euthanasia will effectively prevent unnecessary suffering. To deny it, we are only being instruments to pain. Literally, this would be an act of cruelty.
Another argument against Euthanasia may be it is no different than suicide in general. If a person suffers from great mental pain, in that they find themselves with no allies in this wretched world, that they see themselves in the future as having led an empty existence, if a person suffers from such mental pain, how is it different from allowing them to kill themselves as opposed to Euthanasia for diseases? The simple fact is this: it is not different. If a person does find themself in the position where there is no prospect for hope, no dim, struggling light in the horizon of the future, and they are so willing and desirable as to end their own life, then by every right, they ought to be allowed to. Do I believe that suicide is permissible? Of course. I believe that every person has every right to govern their own body. I do believe, however, in responsibility. Simply existing does not give any person a responsibility. They are not obligated to the world nor to its inhabitants. Having a family, bringing children into this world, having friends -- this does create a responsibility. But the greatest of friends will know when their colleague suffers from the torture of misery, and they will know when the time is right to release their grip from their friend's hand, and let them leave this world peacefully. The man who populates this world with widows and neglected children is not noble in the least, nor is he admirable. But there must be understanding that a person who ends their own life, who has faced that which is the greatest of all fears, whether or not they abandon children in their actions, that they found their life so unbearable, that it was possible for them to end it all -- whether weeping children would be the result or not. I am not saying that such a man is admirable, but that such a man was under great distress. Suicide is not something that can be spoken of lightly, especially when it is a plague of the mind that causes the person to end their own existence.
Death -- it is essentially the center premise of both Euthanasia and suicide. After millions of years of adaptation and evolution, the stronger of the humans surviving while the weaker ones die and are unable to reproduce, humans are now born with a strong sense of survival. But it's not just humans. Every creature on this planet fears death most of all. It is a natural instinct to fear death or suffering of any sort. These instincts cannot be denied, but everything we do must deal with their conflict as they alter our attitudes. It is extremely difficult for some people to physically harm themselves, not because the pain is unbearable, but because of the psychological attitude of it all. Then consider a man whose life is full of nothing but pain and anguish, and then consider what emotions, what instincts and natural feelings, that he must overcome to complete the deed of death -- such a man who is capable of doing what he knows must be done is worthy of the admiration of every humane and rational person. Say what you will of how our society views suicide as ugly. The public opinion of what is beautiful and what isn't could interest me less. When a person knows what they want, their desires harm none, and they allow nothing to get in their way -- their personal feelings or instincts, then they are a person full of courage and bravery. And though it may be sad that a person passes away from this world, leaving behind nothing more than a lifeless body, it is something we must learn to face: that some people are unhappy no matter what crowd they are among or what land they are living in. I wish the best of luck to the advancement of psychology and treatments to ailments of the mind, but I will in no way ask any person to prolong their own suffering for a cure that may not come at all.
The primary argument for Euthanasia is the argument of Rights -- that a person may do what they want, as long as they harm none. When a person ends their own existence, they are not directly causing pain to another person. It is true that some people may be saddened in this world that they are without the presence of another person, another voice for a thriving democratic community. It is true, too, that every humane person will be find one less reason to be hopeful, when this world as it is could appease one less soul. And, if it were practical, for us that eve of loss would be spent picking a flower and sitting atop a hill, allowing the winds to blow the petals to a place unforeseen -- a sort of thoughtfulness that can exist without religion. A person is their own body, and they may do with themselves what they will. I believe in freedom and I believe in liberty. If a person finds that their own existence is one of ceaseless toil and unending pain, following by disappointment and the mutilation of everything that is near and dear to them, then let them kill themselves, do not deny them the razor or the gun or the poison -- their life is their own, and their decisions are their own to make. If a person wishes to be a gardener, or to watch the stars, or to play in the grass, then let them. If what they want to do is the most ridiculous or obscure of activities, it is not up to us to judge. What makes a person happy is up to the will of their soul. We cannot limit them and their actions, as their life is their own. Similarly, if a person wishes to end that life which they have been bestowed upon by this Universe, then that is their decision, and no other person ought to be able to interfere.
I believe in Euthanasia, in its necessity in a world full of pain and misery. I do not wish for a world that is so terrible where everyone is ending their own lives, but rather, I wish for a world where suffering will never reach that extent. I know my wishes are almost naive, though, as it will be impossible for such a world to come about. Even if we are to alleviate most medical problems, there will always be those afflicted with unhappiness, due to the failure of relationships, or simply a psychological disorder of some sort. I believe in any person's right to suicide or Euthanasia, primarily because I believe in rights. To those who disagree, I ask them to go through an ordeal where their friend suffers greatly, and beckons death to come closer. Suffering is a horrid thing, and my defense of Euthanasia and suicide is only on the grounds that I recognize misery for what it is: something detested by all conscious life.