Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nobody Lives Forever

Death will be the great challenge of the 21st century -- and the meaning we give to both death and life.

Mr. Haugen (Oregon Death Row) wishes to regard his death as a "sacrifice" and service to society to reflect on some issues we would not otherwise, and in this way, is making his own contribution to society -- with his life.

And now a group of people want to rob him of that dignity and opportunity by declaring that he is incompetent, and his sacrifice is invalid -- because he does not subscribe to the political correctness (beliefs) of those self-appointed to make these judgments for everybody else, as to who should live and who should die, and whether individuals have a right to their own lives -- and death.

The matter of death becomes increasingly important as more people live lives that can be extended beyond what we have traditionally thought to be a viable and meaningful existence -- just because they have the medical insurance to pay for that, as a few do. Others will decide to climb Mt. McKinley or Everest -- or die trying. People die everyday, in many ways.

In many cultures, the old, weak and dying, were often banished to the wilderness -- realizing they were sacrificing themselves in that way so the rest of society could survive and even flourish. That is even the myth of how civilization began, and a theme in a pioneering heroic age, in which a few individuals declare, "This is as far as I go; the rest of you go on without me," because the chances of success are much greater without them -- or all will fail (die).

Death doesn't have to be that traumatic ultimate "penalty" but can also be a going to sleep and not awakening -- dying peacefully in their sleep, having reconciled themselves to everyone else, and decided the time is right -- and they are at peace with it. A person should have a right to their best death -- as well as their best life, and preferably both -- as their essential rights and freedom of expression that defines that society and its values.

We have to stop looking at death as a penalty -- and view it as an integral and necessary part of life -- so that it can be made more significant, and not just denied as that we hope to avoid forever (and at all costs). Because that is not the essential nature of life; life is that which comes to an end (dies). It is not something permanent but temporary, so one needs to make the most of that time he has -- and that is the best anyone can do -- anyplace and in any position in society.


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