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Author Topic: What do you make of this?  (Read 168 times)
Zeynab
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« on: April 24, 2007, 12:20:53 am »

salamem to all

In January 2005, I came across the saddest and strangest news story on television. I wrote it in my journal and saved it in my pc as a 'remembrance.' I was glancing through my journal today when I saw it and thought of sharing it with viewers of this board.

Here's the true story.

A 78-year-old Canadian man, suffering from an incurable lung disease since several years decided to take his own life by denying himself the life support equipment he needed to stay alive. The reason he gave for making such a decision was that he was suffering too much from this terminal disease and he knew he wouldn't survive for much longer anyway. So, "he preferred to go with dignity on his own terms." He seemed to be sure that this method of ending his life would be peaceful. The man was apparently tired of his lingering health condition and did not find anything wrong in deciding his own death. In other words, he wasn't able to muster enough courage and will-power to continue facing life upto the end, till God decided to end it. I guess this can also be construed as the restlessness of the human spirit that often considers itself too independent.

But the most unusual aspect was the reaction of his immediate family. In Canada suicide is not considered a crime, but to assist a person in committing suicide is a criminal offence punishable by law. In the case of this 78-year-old man, he consulted with his family regarding his decision to die, and they mutually agreed and accepted his decision. But it was also dcided between them that the man would have to remove the life support on his own without the help of any of his family members, for then they could be accused of criminal conduct. Thereafter, the elderly man chose a particular day and time to end his life and he informed his family about it. It was planned that they would all go out for dinner together on that evening for one last time. After returning home the man would end his life while his family woudl be around (probably watching him) but not assisting him to avoid legal implications. Things went ahead as planned. The next day, the headline news on television announced the man's death.

The question that came to my mind was, if it's illegal to assist people in taking their own life, how can it be lawful to literally watch them kill themselves and yet do nothing to stop them? Doesn't this too contribute just as much toward helping a person in committing suicide? Still more amazing, how can one have the heart and nerve to watch one's own father or husband or son or brother or anyone else take their own life (despite the suffering caused by thier illness) and yet be so passive? After all, isn't it inherent that when we see a loved one in pain, we do everything within our means to alleviate the suffering and keep the person alive so we can spend a little more time with them in this world?

It was a story that left me staggering. I probably wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't watched it on TV. I didn't know what to think. Can this be referred to as part of a system highlighting the importance of being solely practical in a tough world, or is it just individual insensitivity or is it simply a different way of showing one's sympathy toward a suffering soul?
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Ruhi_Rose
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2007, 04:08:44 pm »



Very disturbing indeed.  As for the man himself, if he was as ill as he was,  it's but natural to feel the way he did.  After all, everyone wants to go peacefully with the minimal of pain and dependency on others.  Particularly in the West, this is a major problem because families are so split.  Other than get-togethers on special occasions, family life & values have almost diminished - a culture that's been responsible directly & indirectly for endless emotional upheavels.

In this story, it's again the approach of the family that's most mind boggling.  Your question at the end of the piece was very apt.  It makes one wonder if this is merely a culture issue where people are taught to be hard and practical to face the realities of life.  And there's also an inconsistency concerning the law of suicide, as you pointed out.  I would eye both these issues with suspicion.  I don't think it's merely a culture issue, and even if it is, it's nothing pleasant.  Cultures teach good things and otherwise.  I could never uphold a culture if it encouraged me to be callous for the purpose of making life simpler.  It's the emotional side of us that makes us truly human.  It's the emotional tenderness of our hearts that brings us closer to God and helps us to understand Him and His entire creation.  Without these feelings and sentiments we would be devoid of a big chunk of our conscience.  Thus, we would be just living beings, not humans in the true sense of the term.  I think the intentions of this man's family were obvious.  They got tired of his lingering condition and looked upon him as an emotional burden and needless responsibility (perhaps inadvertently).  Plus, there must have been the additional attraction of some financial gain if he passed away.  So they decided to accept his decision of taking his own life.  The fact that the tough & hectic existence in the West demands a practical outlook is a different matter.  The attitude of this man's family most certainly displays a huge streak of insentivity, selfishness and callousness.
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Zeynab
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2007, 04:28:11 am »



  The attitude of this man's family most certainly displays a huge streak of insentivity, selfishness and callousness.

As the essence of the story, this is what comes to my mind as well .. arising from a desire to be done with their responsibility at the earliest.  I guess this is what it means to be thick skinned.  It's  unfortunate, to say the least.

Thanks for your insightful comments.
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