There’s quite a bit of bruh – ha-ha going on about Brittany Maynard and her decision to end her life at her choosing rather than at the behest of a brain tumor.
She’s been labeled a coward. A loser. Ignorant. And most of all godless (my guess is most of these accusers have not sat by the bedside of a comatose loved one and wiped the bile from their lips, change their soiled sheets, and clean their soiled bodies for days on end until finally the last breath is drawn).
Brittany’s decision gave me courage because it reaffirmed something I’ve long thought: We define LIFE as a society not by quality, but by quantity. Consequently, I propose, we cheapen life – and what it means to live.
The reasoning is based on the idea that if the sanctity of life is so broad that no matter how mal-formed, no matter how dependent, no matter how irresponsive, no matter if a life is more full of doctors and therapists and pokes and prods than actual living, no matter how tightly bound a soul might be within a prison of useless limbs and organs, then we do ourselves a disservice because we misplace the fact that life should also have a certain level of value – and health – if it’s to be truly cherished and worth something.
I originally took my cue for this thought from Nature. Nature doesn’t really let the diseased or malformed or ill survive. It can’t. Nature has high standards – grade AAAAA – when it comes to quality control, and it doesn’t fudge very often. We humans forget this. We’ve gotten far removed from nature and therefore do not necessarily act ‘natural’ towards life…or death.
The reaction to Brittany’s death exemplifies this. We would condemn her to weeks of pain and suffering, loss of body control, loss of appetite, withering away, loss of consciousness…ad in fin….because it doesn’t matter her quality of life, only her quantity. As Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, put it “Suicide is not a good thing. It is a bad thing because it is saying no to life and to everything it means with respect to our mission in the world and toward those around us.”
Brittany wasn’t “saying no to life and everything it means” she didn’t have a life to say ‘no’ to.
Instead, she chose to say yes to life, but within the strict confines of quality control that Nature operates. She chose to value life as having meaning and participating in it fully, instead of just existing for existence sake.
So thanks Brittany, for defining life for us by keeping a high standard of quality. Your afterlife is secure.
Here’s to Life….healthy, full, and vibrant.