Tag Archives: right to die

Obsessed with Life, But not with Living

Have you heard about Cassandra?  She is a seventeen year old girl with lymphoma who is currently being forced against her will to 1)  stay in a hospital 2) receive chemotherapy treatments that can cause life long damage and infertility.

There’s a huge debate between her rights as a person who should be able to choose her own destiny and the medical necessity of extending her life because……, well……, life.

But the issue brings up a deeper point for me that I believe we need to consider as a society.

In this day and age, thank god, we don’t have to worry about dying from a simple little thing like a tooth infection or strep throat.  AIDS is very close to being lassoed and corralled and robots are helping with surgeries now.  Our medical technology is wonderful and as a wearer of digital hearing aids I am grateful for its advances.

Yet in our effort to maximize our lifespans, I am concerned that in the end we lessen the overall value and meaning of life.  You see, if just any life, as long as it is breathing is considered sacred then it seems we’ve crossed a line between what is beneficial and what is obsessive.

Is it life when a person is faced with nothing but doctors appointments and blood tests, day in and day out, sick to their stomach, pumping themselves full of pills to counteract the disadvantages to chemotherapy? Is it life when a young girl is left infertile and faced with decades of other biological consequences from the poison they are forcing her to take now?  Is it life when a soul is trapped inside a body that has no function and is completely dependent on others for its care?

I contend that there is a big difference between simply living in the most base sense of word as we are redefining it, which seems to be merely breathing, and in being effective, being able to appreciate each breath, and being able to control our own destinies.

If we allow our definition of life to include increasingly poor quality in the interest of longevity, then we lose respect for what it means to really live and what it means to be alive and living. Our time is too short as it is, do we want to water down its meaning as well?

My thoughts are with Cassandra and her family.  May they navigate this difficult time with grace and may they have strength to LIVE according their own terms.

Peace kids, and make it a good day to be alive.

Frankie

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Thanks Brittany, For Defining Life for Us….

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.

Frankie