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A Formal Response to California’s Death With Dignity Act Legislation
by Polly Peptide
09 Jul 2015
Recently a major and moral decision was made to quell California legislature as to whether people suffering with terminal illness should have the right to die with dignity. Democrats did not have enough votes although the legislation might come back later in the year? To the extent that there was much of a debate in the news it has been one-sided with a chorus of status quo preventivists. Religion has once again slammed up common sense and compassion.
A Formal Response to California’s Death With Dignity Act Legislation
Recently a major and moral decision was made to quell California legislature as to whether people suffering with terminal illness should have the right to die with dignity. Democrats did not have enough votes although the legislation might come back later in the year?
To the extent that there was much of a debate in the news it has been one-sided with a chorus of status quo preventivists. Religion has once again slammed up common sense and compassion.
The following essay herein is not specific to California but to humanity in general. These arguments are much in the same vein as specific to die with dignity. Therefore I submit this rather long but interesting essay—a previous draft of this essay was published but this is a far more edited and rewritten version and deserves new space for better argumentation:
“Suicide Is A Human Moral Right: Similar in Ethics to the Right to an Abortion” (July 9th 24th, 2015 draft):
By Polly Peptide
*** This essay is dedicated to Robin Williams, famous American comedian and actor, who recently died from an apparent suicide *** May he now rest in peace.
Also I argue that this topic is far more important and moral than controversial ones like gay marriage rights. And yet the advocates for the right to die with dignity are far and few—this is discussed below. Nevertheless this is a serious decision for all people. It deserves far more attention and discussion than it has received. Equally it is very controversial as related to several controversies (also discussed below).
To some this essay may seem anti-American because it is clearly a secular argument with antipathy toward repressive religion. Americans may not live in a theocracy but the outcome of such non-debates is similar as people often suppress arguments that go against the Bible as if we did live in a theocracy. On the contrary this is a very American to assume the right of free speech on very controversial debates, and it is timely and patriotic to make such statements at a time when the 4th of July has become so shallow and empty.
In fact with such an argument one could easily be blacklisted, harassed or even murdered to make the kind of argument this case makes. As interesting as it may be to know the person behind this argument, it is crucial the source remains anonymous. Newspaper editors protect their sources all the time and so it goes privacy and personal security are important aspect of free speech and a free society. Also the focus should remain on the message and not side tracked to ad hominen attacks on the messenger. Hopefully we can still get more balanced discussion on this very important topic. To this end I submit:
Suicide Is A Human Moral Right: (May 31st, 2015 draft):
Suicide is often thought tragedy or failure—but a person can lead an exceedingly relevant and meaningful life and still have it end with suicide.
Whereas many lives that die more by natural causes, or various diseases, or artificially prolonged to eventual death, could arguably be judged as more tragic (in the sense those people did not much live up to their real human potential such as finding real meaning in their lives (beyond say a conformist style of presupposition) or not having much spiritual awareness).
Suicide, although thought taboo and negative consequence, should not be thought especially conclusive to render final judgment on a particular dead person’s attitudes or the entirety of his or her life, or assumed values while living, or all related circumstances and matters. Esteemed and valuable lives do happen to end with this form of partial self-control over one’s finality. It can at times be practical to one’s circumstances to end one’s life.
Regardless of anyone's and everyone’s personal and moral opinion(s) on such a seemingly serious event (and yet death is no more dramatic or serious than being born and no less necessary) the act of committing suicide should be considered a universal human right (at least for adults who no longer have children or dependents to care).
Yet few people readily argue for such an important human right.
Small pockets of conscientious people publicly argue for this right in respect to dire conditions—arguing people who are seriously suffering from terminal diseases should be allowed to engage euthanasia (a grace other animals are allowed by the human race). But even when humanitarian, Jack Kevorkian types, who argue suffering people be relieved of their anguish and misery often are reviled especially here in America's 50 state Bible belt—and even if their motives are nobly compassionate and humane.
This reality alone—how many powerful institutions and people (religious, legal, social networks, etc.) want to deny one's personal right to a humane death even from interminably suffering—should be enough of a red flag to any potential parent thinking about what kind of society to bring a child. The inhumanity of humanity and its religious zealots’ presumptuousness, indicate how much power out-dated religions still have on people (even in countries that claim to separate church and state).
Rare are those few persons who argue that even relatively healthy adults should also have a right to decide if living life as a human is worth it (whether they suffer a physically debilitating disease or not). This is the line of the taboo and yet this is a topic many people frequently think about.
[**Note: this essayist too hides behind the anonymity of a ghost’s pen-name, because this subject, as it relates to religious and social controversies, is so highly contentious, so much so the author’s life could be put in danger.]
Religious moral fanaticism too much rules the world even here in the West. It may seem subdued at times but fanaticism seethes from the underground of the less spoken until it comes to a head in legislative bodies. But instead of any real debate, society’s traditional dogmas, as well as presumptions by most public health professionals, and so-called keepers of morality and the law, all simply assume that if you are relatively healthy and yet you also entertain suicidal ideation or death wishes then you are not healthy but are instead mentally unhealthy and unsound.
This is the social and institutional inertia this essay seeks to challenge.
Most institutions and related professions, not to mention most people in general, take it as some kid of implicit fact that everyone of reasonable mind would: a) want to be born human on planet earth, and b) once born would choose to continue to live regardless of afflictions or circumstances to self and soul, and irrespective of alienation and anxieties to larger issues pressing mankind such as today’s many fear-based concerns.
So, despite professionally accepted assumptions, and given the fact they are seldom publicly challenged, they are very much based on dogma and need to be contentiously challenged—especially at this time in human history as we have come to over 7 billion people currently living (or trying to do so as some people starve to death every day).
The vaunted platitude the “value of human life” (as cultural supposition) has had little open discussion or debate. This absolutist human life value precept, as collective opinion, is assumed to be some sacred fact, since many scientists too refuse to challenge religious dominion in areas of morality. Practically everyone implicitly agrees that to be born is a mightily wonderful thing (as if this planet had an infinite capacity for more and more people).
Nevertheless it can be argued that there are plenty of people who do not really view their own lives as especially worthy (as they, themselves, have experienced and lived them). Equally important many people do not care about most other peoples’ travails, as long as they keep up the cheery façade that its all good, and it all makes sense.
Various descriptions of the many, many travails life often imposes on individuals, families and societies is ignored in this non-debate; or it is sometimes assumed, since some people, depending on their genetics and dispositions, actually have attitude in which they crave and relish grave challenges and hardships.
Horrific realities are part of the grand bargain (that one really never chose). Rationalizing social pressure instead insinuates all, or most, people will happily sign onto a life on planet earth contract (one granted without ‘any’ guarantees); and certainly plenty of the more naïve and less reflective do not much question this arrangement. Risk-takers especially would and do not. Our human capacity to rationalize does quite consistently—after all most people assume everyone has someone to fall back on or lean on. After all what choice is left save the ugly thought of self-destruction. “Our great God of providence will provide for our important necessities to an rewarding life”. We are not mere lemmings following some piped piper. We are just awfully optimistic people, who readily go-along-to-get-along, including a willingness to adopt a “just-do-it” attitude.
But once a soul is forced into this cosmic drama (that is born in the flesh) there is no objective Consumer Report on Living Life on Life's Terms provided to the self that includes a comprehensive “pro versus con” listings of the proposition, so that each individual can attempt to look at life more objectively and dispassionately (certainly no report with any universal or historical perspective). Whereas you might get all kinds of religious training about how God values your individuality and uniqueness (because in reality, on average, too few other people will—nor will many truly get to know you as a true individual).
Birth is much about naivety and often enough stems from less than noble motives, such as parents who want or need to cling to relationships, as they may or may not be mature enough to nurture or care properly. In this world immature, shortsighted and egocentric can and do procreate. Others get a pet.
The cultural brainwash of our supposed collective common sense simply expects you to comport the personal mindset around a prevailing social notion that to be born is a good thing and that getting pregnant is none-other than a blessing (taking it as for granted potential parents would want to have children irrespective of circumstances). There is little shoulder room for cynical thinking about what it may mean to bring a child into the challenges of the 21st century. Childbearing to today's realities is not given much critical thought.
This air of presumption is true for progressives as well as conservatives, for the financially well off as well as the poor (as if humanity, on whole, lives in one big bubble assuming the good times will keep on rolling).
The truly sane and carefully reflective person would survey the situation from many angles before jumping to conclusions or getting too optimistic about mankind’s fate going into this 21st century. There already is a lot of road kill and road rage in today’s world, metaphor of overpopulation and over-technology, to not reflect on potential consequences. Many cities are having major problems planning for city traffic as bottlenecks become part of one’s daily routine. Whereas too many drivers act like self-centered bullies try to race around every comfortable moment as they engage in endless forms of tailgating and reckless tirades saying something about the American character as spoiled, self-righteous, egocentric and entitled.
Yet for one to even suggest pre-born-babies (if such a concept could be imagined) might not want to have been born, after carefully weighing the pros and cons, is taken as major heresy: “How dare you not appreciate human life—such as decreed by God!” “How dare you have opinions contrarian to ‘my’ sacred right to bring more wonderful children (like myself) into this world!” If ever there was an act of chauvinism it is the idea this world needs more of one’s own (and so it certainly is not a sexist adjective).
[**Note: This singular and personal opinion piece, highly contrary as going against the grain and traditional assumption, as well as human history, is truly a very lone voice. This essay is what a truly ‘minority’ opinion means—having little to do with one’s race or gender.]
Irrespective then of all peoples’ personal opinions (even if personal opinions are not often particularly individualist) one should be able to argue thee ultimate human right of being-hood (and all related rights of existence) is the right to decide for the self whether one even wants to live a human life (especially as related to circumstances one finds the self). This is really the most basic litmus test to freedom as essential criteria as to whether one is truly free or not.
Anything less then an adult’s right (eighteen or older and not responsible for children) to take one’s own life amounts to some form of social slavery—especially since no one ever born has actually chosen to be born in the first place—which is a very important point.
Self never asks for the circumstances of living—rather they are forced upon the individual by outside forces. Sometimes they arrive under more or less ideal conditions but often enough, they do not come with anything too close to ideal conditions.
An example is the obvious truth that not every man is automatically going to be a good to great father (as equally said for a potential mother). There are plenty children living in far-from-ideal-or-esteem-building households and circumstances. And even if true some children thrive quite well in harsh conditions the larger question is why were they forced to do so in the first place. And yet this essay is really about mankind having already created dangerous and politically totalitarian potentials going into the 21st century (for all humanity).
Life and all accompanying circumstances is, more or less, forced upon innocent babies, who are then quickly acculturated into the myths of their cultures’ orientations. Meanwhile most people take it for granted their culture and civilization will continue on unabated as conditions for their special offspring will be adequately prosperous. This is at least hoped to be the case after a woman is pregnant.
Religions, which have much say on what is considered morality, have dominated basic assumptions about issues to the sacredness of life (as most secular progressives and radicals will not touch this kind of discussion). Most intellectuals seem, for various reasons, caught in a reticence of political and religious hegemony, of religions claiming human life sacred (at least rhetorically) even while religious politics often treats individual life as if it does not especially matter—accept in the eyes of ‘other’ (God and community).
Human life and personal values are violated in all manner of being all the time as the contradiction from the rhetoric to reality is huge. Hypocrisy and fear too often stands in for human morality, compassion and individual rights.
One exception to this pattern of reticence, are those who argue for the right (of a women) to have an abortion (men in this double standard of reverse sexism too often have little legal say on the matter—especially when pregnancy happens outside of wedlock).
[**Note: Lines of argument in respect to suicide are related to arguments for the right to have an abortion—that is why this essay goes back and forth discussing both topics.]
Surprisingly, given the consequences of abortion versus having a child, most pro-choice advocates do not demonstrate a great deal of potency or diversity to make their cases, save generalized clichés like a woman has a right to decide matters regarding her personal body (implying abortion is more or less about riddance of a bodily attachment, as if men involved do not deal with consequences from a woman’s decision).
A recent example of the lameness of Pro-Choice arguments is found in an interview between DemocracyNow.Org’s Amy Goodman and The Nation Magazine’s Katha Pollitt (in reference to Pollitt’s new book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights). This interview, and presumably the book, add little, if anything, new to this historical debate—rather it’s a preaching-to-the-choir rehash about how abortion is “good” for society in some circumstances (arguments that will never change the minds of the fanatically and religiously opposed).
For the many millions who assume Judeo-Christianity and Bible are man’s ultimate authority these kinds of humanitarian arguments will not and cannot resonate with true believers—so they do little to change the ratio of followers, and therefore they do little to change the status quo of a right-wing backlash.
WHAT TO DO?
However there are two possibly effective arguments to deal with anti-abortionists based on the fact their objections to abortion are based on religious beliefs.
The first is to directly confront and challenge the very moral status of the Judeo-Christian religion and the Bible itself—and yet almost nobody wants to go there. Still if one could make such a legitimate challenge, and there are legitimate arguments already made (see “When God Became the Terrorist: Traces of the Authoritarian Nature of the Three Abrahamic Religions” at: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2013/07/511565.html (e-book), then this strategy could succeed over some time haul (surely 90% of those against abortion are precisely so because of their religious assumptions).
A second strategy could be to demonstrate, by rational argument, that being born on planet earth, is neither especially desirable nor healthy—that is going into a 21st century fraught with danger. The Pro-Life position could be (and quite frankly should be) viewed as unhealthy, naive and even insane. My thesis herein attempts to make such a case.
But angels dare not rush in where supposedly fools flock—and yet few fools show up either. To challenge the psychological and political assumption that giving birth (life) is a wonderful reality (or challenging Bible Belt America on radical grounds about moral assumptions) is at best dicey. These paths are akin to some seemingly crazy warrior general named Hannibal demanding his brigades ride elephants up mountain ranges to attack the Romans from behind—not especially easy of a battle.
Anti-abortionists believe only God can willfully take life and anything else is serious mortal sin (despite the reality of mankind’s wars through history). So then our modernist worldview of acceptable parameter for discussion topics and tactics remains stuck in a voodoo muck conditioned back from ancient Judeo-Christianity (ancient epochs not especially relevant to today's realities).
But even from a more secular view, it is hard to challenge deeply implanted assumptions about the “gift of life”. Most simply find it hard to imagine thinking an individual has a right to choose NOT to participate in the human enterprise—that is rejecting what so many others take for granted (and given the constancy of genetic variations there will always be many who want to experience life through old age irrespective of potential forms of disaster). Suicide is hardly a threat to human survival—as are a lot of other human potentials.
Still we do fear the economic wars for the future, as plenty commoner Joe-six-pack people know this to be our human predicament. We know population growth, even if at a slower pace, still means more conflict and war. We cannot muster enough personal independence to understand a lot of our psychological lives have become little more than forms of social conformity even while feeling personal alienation (life as not especially being meaningful).
We intuitively know most of the internationally advertised world wants the same levels of personal comfort and material well being we Americans have long taken for granted. This economic truth sets the world rife with serious economic conflict, even if it means the ‘haves’ minority keeping the ‘have-nots’ majority from getting any kind of parity (which is not likely to be pretty lot for people in a lot of countries).
Why then is it so hard for some to fathom a baby, one who eventually grows up to adult, born essentially without his or her personal consent, could ever find life as resented? Why do so many parents assume they are doing something positive by giving birth to a child? And why are so few not afraid to ask about such important questions? Will religious authoritarians keep people from thinking and talking about real issues?
Perhaps some people, even if a small minority had they a socially acceptable and dignified way to die, would choose to do so? This thought should not be baffling to people who have clue to many peoples’ real circumstances throughout history.
Rather then assuming human life automatically valuable we might instead contemplate the radical notion, instead of zero growth population increase (population at plateau) going ‘beyond’ our normal human perspective (that assumes humans are the dominant species on planet earth) to ask, for argument sake, if it would be saner to have “all” human pregnancies aborted throughout the entire world until our very Homo sapiens species dies off—as in becoming extinct?
This is a radical position that will not attract many advocates, to say the least. Radical conditions are also brought onto humanity by humanity itself (often enough in the name of advancement) and they are not the fault of radical thought itself. By far most people will cling for human survival. French encyclopedist Denis Diderot huge compendium of science, arts and business was emblematic of the age of reason, enlightenment and the arts. The enlightenment has been superceded by the facts that ideas alone cannot change human nature and time has shown how science has become exceedingly well at creating weapons of destruction.
Assertions of this order bring mankind to face itself and its assumptions. We presume the human race will always continue on (if not here then elsewhere). Yet why should humanity even suppose the human enterprise is good on the face of things—when maybe it is not all that good, and frankly many signs point to it being negative and dangerous in important ways—starting with the fact that in less than one century various countries have amassed thousands of nuclear warheads and have meanwhile lost little inclination to go to war or be belligerent (and often enough stupidly so—study U.S. Congress and several leaders in the Executive Branch like at the State Department)?
Granted, all of life's forms, evolutionarily speaking, can be argued to be profound (and sacred) as well as superfluous (as many species have come and gone over a billion years of time). All species play important roles in the nature of things ecologically. We cannot take biology lightly to just assume some supernatural God, who claims kinship especially close to the human race, will provide to compensate for our naiveté or irrespective of circumstances. The human race seems most out of step violating nature.
It is a more or less a fact planet earth, and all its other millions of species, do ‘not’ need the human race, and likely would fair far better with out it. The one species that has already done much damage and is situated to potentially do a great deal more is so head-strongly assuming about its own invariable sacredness.
Why do we humans invariably presume something so very special about our own existence—so much so we have literally invented the idea of our own God-like immortality, that is to live beyond mortal life—namely by our own invention of religion that tells us how much more special we are (as if we resembled some higher creator power than so many other species, supposedly also created by the same assumed ancient Middle Eastern Divinity)?
Nothing human-o-centric here, that because our animal species can utilize a vastness of language tool and thought abstraction, that we have invented ourselves as divine and protected by our own invention of an omnipotent God—we, even if poorly misguided at that (as few understand the politics of religions as propaganda machines) will be destined to some immaculate and immortal fate?
Whereas the religious right assumes God “owns” your soul (and life), and yet when such an assumption is thought through, it distills to God basically being a kind of slave owner (so you really are not free but must live out your life even if it can be argued it has inhumane circumstances and dangers to exist).
Religious moral argument states God ultimately created you (and corresponding religious literature claims as much or at least implies so), and so counts you sacred (at least on paper) so then according to this logic ‘you’ have no right to make such a decision about taking your ‘own’ life (even if God himself can, and arbitrarily does, take lives—like in demands for the killing of non-Jewish tribes competing with Jewish tribes in the Old Testament for Canaan).
You are then a kind of animal-stock breeder to be dealt with on society's jealous terms and circumstances (this is even more true for men who are not considered worthy of having any say in what Pro-Choice women claim as “their” bodies (as if the sperm never existed). Moreover in your go-along-to-get-along nonchalance you may breed just like animals; but there are some rules and norms about acceptable morality of such breeding (such as within a marriage or whatever flavor of cultural supposition such as monogamy versus polygamy) versus single parenthood.
In previous centuries, when population growth wasn’t quite so disconcerting, one could understand a general claim that life is good and connected as desirable, and such an argument might have merited some value, especially if one were actually born in a relatively sane, healthy and happy civilization or world—but not so much in a world that is not especially sane, healthy or happy. (And it is a sign of mental health to question whether humanity today is sane, healthy and happy versus whether one born today lives more in a dangerous, corrupt and corroding set of circumstances that are precarious and not especially close to health welfare or sanity—as one's life could end in many forms of tragedy and pain via conflicted variables of chaos.)
It is also a sign of mental health and personal independence to allow the self to freely reflect on serious matters (and very controversial ones). And ‘when’ self finds enough evidence that modern life is indeed toxic enough with potentially dire conditions (as humanity is overwhelmed with environmental, economic and political issues, so much so it seems to not be able to effectively deal and cope) to then conclude giving birth is not anywhere near a good idea (and in fact could seem irrational and irresponsible and could even be argued immoral) then this is one’s right too, to use one’s free capacity to reason as well (and not as a choice but rather a duty).
Re-read the previous paragraph please.
Such a personal conclusion is of a type of divergent thinking many loathe on first reading (but individuality is what personal responsibility requires).
If health is man’s first wealth then to be born, or more precisely thrust into life, and finding one’s cultural and political environment unhealthy (and presumed to be getting worse to breaking points), then we humans collectively need to question if this status quo is something people should honor or should question—even as it takes courage to question fundamental assumptions most people do not much question (instead are corralled in their boxes constructed at right angles).
[Note: “Human insanity” herein means, in a cultural sense, when our human species seems to adequately demonstrate, or strongly suggest likewise, from historical examples and contemporary media manipulation, we as a species cannot, or will not, effectively deal with the many serious issues that we now confront (or even admit to the seriousness of some issues we deal) without the likelihood of much pain and suffering and death for a massive number of ever-growing people into the foreseeable future. **This author thinks this dilemma describes humanity today all too well. Note also, for example, on the simple issue of drought in California and the fact that way too much water goes for grazing livestock (it takes 1000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk or 600 for a hamburger). But reporting on such issues fails to mention it is ‘humans’ and not cows that are on the top of this food chain and it is the human, and not the cow, that thus wastes even more water-related resources.]
All people have a duty to think about what it means for a child to be born into today’s post-industrial, post-world wars, age-of-anxiety, as set of truths, to a backdrop of corporate corruption and political scandal (granted scandals and corruption have always existed but not against a world that has become increasingly dangerous and in which a surveillance state has effectively grown around gullible people here to a level unforeseen—and becomes more and more a world phenomenon as potentially dangerous as any has ever been).
Thus to be born in these times especially (as one could make case for other times of history) is not especially propitious of sanity and human welfare. The best one could reasonably argue is life will be a major challenge to much of humanity (if not all of it).
And granted it would be nice if Americans had the luxury of that flowery language used by the likes of some Thomas Paine during the American Revolution. Those Harvard graduates back then with their Latin and Greek inculcation, as erudite lawyers and clever-cleavers of prose, had time to compose their conceits into the nicety of spice and tea. We Americans today have little room for such European baroque-ness. The world and industry spins too fast for anything but straight discourse.
We need keen awareness to the most important social and political issues current to living today—gaining clue to portending dangers and our human nature’s likely political reactions to conflict and ambiguity (sifting through conspiracies to see real patterns of strife) as newborns arrive daily in a world now full of chaos and a constancy of change on many levels (against all the usual human paradoxes of crime, poverty, poor education, war, high volumes of imprisonment, human rights violations—but then adding in more uniquely contemporary issues (unique in scale) such as food and water scarcity and starvation, including so-argued national security stakes on scarce commodities and minerals, plus various environmental dangers, as including higher homelessness and refugee problems, lack of employment while many investors turn to robotics to kill more jobs, plus over-population as real, etc.—would such awareness not indeed be more than enough word to the wise?
This list of challenges haunting mankind could be extended but is adequate to make the point life on earth will be treacherous into the future.
The world over needs to stop procreating and get some serious negative population growth without relying on wars—and to do so now. And Republicans and Democrats both need to understand anything else is delusion.
The only difference between war and murder is that war is killing ‘other’ as dehumanized whereas murder is defined as killing one’s own within society. In the greater reflections of ethics it does not matter if a so-called God of the Bible ‘tolerated’ war or was more precisely a War God. (This very truth itself should be questioned to a very deep question mark.) Any human being who is dense enough to think a God would start demarcating certain lands for certain chosen peoples, at the necessity of killing off those all ready living there (even way back in Moses’ time), is in need of countervailing intellectual challenge.
OVERPOPULATION TO WAR:
If anything destroys the sanctity of human life it is overpopulation that continue to breed even while each birth places more demands on the world resources and economies. Why are people not making these kinds of arguments in respect to the sanctity of life?
Especially why should people who think just because they get married they have some inevitable right to produce any number of offspring? Why is this supposed right so much taken as granted (while the opposite one of taking one’s own life or having an abortion is not at all allowed in the minds of many)?
Anti-abortionists should be on the defensive arguing why human life today is supposedly assumed to have so much value. Why are Pro-Choice people acting as if they need to be on the defensive when they should be on the offensive as morally more secure? This social issue is about understanding true moral realities.
It can’t be that hard to understand how some children born today (or even some born years ago) find life to be more a curse than any kind of blessing?
Cynics laugh at phony reality TV shows to ridicule the perfect white American family a few decades ago but it seems almost as if all classes of people assume some kind of romantic notion about being born and what an ideal life could entail—even against a demonstrable backdrop of inequality and racial injustice. Yet even as a white, supposedly privileged Anglo-Saxon (which I was not especially) I would never bring a child into this human mess of too much human ignorance, trouble, disappointment and evil. I would never assume that because I might have, what some might assume as attractive offspring, those offspring would find this world so compatible.
If so many people value their own lives (lives so heavily influenced by factors beyond their control) or their right to have children, why do they insist on opposing the right of others to choose suicide, as strangers they do not even know or care?
Why should strangers claim to have some moral right to decide other people’s choices (rather than people free to decide their own for self and family)?
[**Note: This is not an argument from some spoiled notion which expects human utopia, that is where one is afraid of being challenged or even politically oppressed—rather this is from an awareness level that understands enough serious challenges, as a whole, are facing the future, and are potentially devastating in aspects, so much so as to realize sane people would not likely chose to procreate vulnerable children into what may no longer be especially viable.
We American have had a long and peaceful history of economic stability here within the United States (as our ancestors brutally took it from the Native Americans and Mexicans) but change is the only constant (and we already see this in increasing homelessness and poverty). We intuitively know the future hangs on a thread.
Who would consciously choose (had they choice) to be born in a world where there exists a hundred military budgets that stockpile innumerable forms of military arsenal that could make much hell on earth (and routinely does but could make it even far more serious).
When Robin Williams did his giddy, over-the-top comic spiels (references from Rod Sterling’s “Twilight Zone” to the little people from “Wizard of Oz”) as radio announcer in Good Morning Vietnam his jokes too were in regard to exaggerated political fears in the name of war profiteering.
War veterans who commit suicide are doing what is natural when they learn of ugly realities and moral contradictions many civil citizens dare not much learn or care to delve. It is within a general naiveté of the well-propagandized masses and protected elites, to wear rose-colored glass to drown out truer levels of traumatic syndrome. They live pedestrian, although entertained, lives. Many have financial and material means to stave off sharper truths so as to not become aware of deeper interpretations of reality.
The human race is not sane, and frankly never was, nor likely will ever be. Rather societies live on myths, hopes, presumptions, luck, and a lot of distorted nationalist propaganda. But definitely mankind does not live mostly by any form of wisdom—for wisdom would see the human race for what it is—blind, arrogant, gullible, and too often evil in its capacity to rationalize (and also too often corruptible—traits well supplied in all eras of human history).
THE REAL ECONOMICS:
Childbirth, as a physical reality, is more about demands on the environment and various economies than it is about superstitious matters presupposing all sorts of things never truly proven one way or another. Having a child is about placing a physical baby in a world of specific historical circumstances—especially economic. Nevertheless too many fear the dominance of the religious right even while many know the sanctimonious right to be so philosophically and morally wrong (global warming being but one of their blind spots).
And yet it is, for example, especially deceitful for so-called ‘progressive women’ to assume they as a gender, are far from the militarism of a country’s men. Amy Goodman does a special broadcast from the World Forum at The Hague: “Nobel Laureates Call on ‘Militaristic’ United States to Renew Pledge to Protect Human Rights” celebrating the International Congress of Women calling for peace during World War 1. Did not women marry male engineers who designed the military weapons because they were considered professional and had good salaries? Equally did not women marry Wall Street tycoons and yellow journalists that helped to manipulate the United States into wars? Was it not women who fell head-over-first for war heroes of all stripes? Do not women too equally procreate more economic demand on the National Security in this society of mass consumption in which each household wants a bigger home, more cars, more kitchen appliances, new clothes for each child, etc., etc., etc?
If you want to stop more wars then stop having babies!!!!!!!!! What a conceit it has been for so many women and feminists to believe that somehow they have not contributed to war realities throughout history when they have in fact did their fare share to inspire them (even if not consciously so). And after the next war there is also a boom in babies.
Even most progressives, exasperatingly, dare not publicly question the moral legitimacy of ancient religions. Judeo-Christian religion is not especially found to be based on love (at least from ‘political’ and ‘psychologically’ analysis) but rather lacks demonstrative and equitable sense of justice. If Pro-Choice people think they are going to get a fair battle in Congress over the right for Medicare to pay for abortions and at the same time not dare challenge the moral legitimacy of Christianity they are not likely going to succeed. They haven’t even been able to allow Medicare to pay doctors for end-of-life counseling, although the debate has come back to light.
Read for example the clever Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ (‘clever’ in his sophistic style of trying to prove the Bible true from a logic and an investigative science point of view but still presuming too many supernatural things). Instead focus specifically to his discussions on the painful truth of torture by crucifixion (my word choice) in his Chapter 11: “The Medical Evidence…” where one almost must conclude the sadistic nature of crucifixion as an act of torture and terrorism Roman armies seemingly used fairly extensively against rebelling slaves and criminals.
There can be no moral case for any JUST God to have demanded this type of torture as murder, save some tyrannical Deity who based his political ideas and passions of governance by authoritarian principle and a lust for vengeance.
Any God who claims to be all-powerful, and who claims to have created all peoples circumstances (including their very DNA which scientists learn more and more play a heavy part in all we do), while taking no responsibility for any outcome of those creatures lives that he supposedly created (or their circumstances) and then instead engages harsh judgments against humanity, such as torture in a hell by devils of his equal making, cannot possibly be thought either sacred or worthy (unless people are insanely brainwashed by a religious terrorism of punishment via a scapegoat of forgiveness from a Jesus figure who in truth could not even save himself).
The very idea of some monolithic force having complete and despotic control over one’s life and assumed soul with threat of terrible punishment is more tyranny that has ever been devised. No wonder all the religious hysteria in the world over the centuries.
Nevertheless millions and millions of people, over many centuries, and ultimately in many civilizations, have been more or less brainwashed to believe, as a kind of Stockholm syndrome, in this kind of totalitarian religious psychology as supposedly taught to be moral? Any religion and religious deity that claims to be the epitome of morality and shows itself to be so utterly the opposite should have many rational people asking serious questions.
People are routinely taught Jesus ‘chose’ this fate of dying in such a cruel manner and that somehow he was saving others from God’s wrath. How much longer can the human race blindly accept this kind of adolescent conditioning? If Jesus was such a visionary he would have rejected the Old Testament and Judaism for a multitude of reasons.
But people are afraid to think they have both a right and a duty to evaluate and judge religions and those religion’s depiction of deities (as they have a right to question human leaders) and more importantly to realize some religions themselves can have terrorist elements of psychology—especially when believers have been brainwashed to believe such terrorism is itself somehow sacred. Maybe mankind needs to stop honoring the Easter holiday in which a Jewish, left-leaning, Rabbi was tortured and put to death?
Theoretically, despite Gottfried Leibnitz philosophical reasoning that God made the best possible worlds which include evil, it is not hard to imagine God could have created a better and more equitable world, and he or it could have taken some responsibility for his creation rather than act like some tin-pot dictator like an Ariel Sharon or a Bibi Netanyahu (who equally act as if they can engage in any form of atrocity such as blatant war crimes, and no one will dare call them on it because they, and too many naïve people, assume their cause to be sacred).
Instead we have a Biblical God, corresponding to real life war criminals threatening their subjects with pain, death and eternal torture—but few independent minds dare transverse where even angels hide (especially and ironically the medical professions like psychologists, psychiatrists, journalists, social scientists, and professionals that study comparative religion). When U.S. Congress looked the other way and tepidly excused Netanyahu’s government of blatant war crimes and terrorism this summer which the trite “Israel has a right to protect itself” meme it shows the exact same authoritarian psychology (while using lies and every form of deceit any devil might use in process). It was exactly the same evil.
It is not enough for a religion to give comfort to believers in an alienating world, if they claim to be moral and wise then they should be consistently so. If some religions claim to be the very paradigm of morality and ethics then they should at least past the sniff test.
Nor is or was the existential naiveté of Jean Paul Sartre who took the post World War 2 world by storm amidst realizations religious and political ideologies were chimeras. His simplistic model of individuals creating them selves as “free” agents of mere personal choice assumed too much about just how far anarchic solipsism could reasonably go.
MY CHILD WILL SAVE THE WORLD
Isn’t it a bit trite, as retort from some, about how one’s very son or daughter will be able to give value to human society, via some great scientific discovery, or by moral suasion of diplomacy (a conceit that doesn’t especially hold much water when we already have seven billion people living, some supposedly trying to save mankind within their own potentiality, and not too many doing a great job of it (rather being mostly consumers of services, materials, economies, and food and water scarcity, and making other demands on this planet and people, etc.)?
Birth is an animal truth via the game of sexuality. Birth is not primarily a religious or spiritual reality unless populations can be convinced so by indoctrination. Sophisticated animals as ourselves, no doubt who can drive sophisticated cars and engage multiple forms of sophisticated technology, and come to think we are close to infallible (as if we can always invent new and viable outcomes with more technological breakthrough). Our hormones rage and our desires lead to intimate relations (which I am not condemning except that the human race is out of control and cannot at this point likely save itself).
Previously through history mankind at least maintained an illusion of being in control—although it never really had such (even with its various religious myths). Eventually our complicated chessboard became more complicated even as it also seemed to show signs to offer fewer viable choices.
The idea of ‘spirituality’ is more a matter of becoming truly aware of important matters and gaining emotional integrity with some sober contemplation (and not just new age neophytes contemplating their naval at yoga spas while eating the politically correct vegan diet of the week (to which I do not ridicule). And yet what if real and wide awareness on important matters (social, political, material, psychological, economic, etc.) far from religious escapism into esotericism (that some claim enlightenment) could also lead to strong streaks of cynicism, alienation and anxiety, etc., and even at some point a loss of hope for humanity in general (and maybe even a desire to depart this human asylum altogether—speculating dire consequences and violence likely awaits too much of mankind)?
Religion has always been about escape from alienating realities of life, such as being born and having to live a life in which many circumstances are beyond one’s own control. This is equally true for many new age / old-age spiritual movements.
But true spiritual awareness is ‘not’ mostly about esoteric discussions regarding the alignment of charkas, or the reciting of mantras (although such practices may be personally soothing) but rather coming to the realization that the entire world is now one big mental institution, and that the majority of earth’s people are, in reality, pretty much mental patients (even while most assume themselves sane and go along with many cultural presumptions—either spoon-fed as children, or schools, or by TV commercial or other propaganda force).
Most religious beliefs do nothing about real evil acted out in the here and now of this real world (save charity sharing) other than promising the bad guys will one day be appropriately punished after death. Sure we have a minority of religious sects who engage in social justice politics work here on earth but what Judeo-Christianity is mostly about is promising an afterworld of make-belief, as if one doesn’t need to get too wrapped up in giving too much of a damn what happens in this transitional and temporal space. Here where much evil arguably transpires, people are expected to conform to the “God-spell” that suggests they focus their attention on the afterlife as to assure themselves their God has everything under ‘his’ control.
And granted nobody is going to presume you enlightened if you talk like the human race is insane, but this is really a closer picture to what humanity reflects today than most care to entertain. And you don’t need to be some high priest of pessimism to appreciate this perspective, as anyone with any depth can become aware of the dark side of human life and equally of “all” humanity’s institutions—including religions.
Years ago movie viewers intuitively accepted the death of Native-American “Chief Bromden”, long-term resident of a psychiatric institution who died in the 1975 classic movie One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest starring Jack Nicholson. Most thought him deaf and dumb but this so-diagnosed paranoiac thought society ground people up like a combine as it chewed up humanity to bits (and what Native American would not). His death technically was by murder via pillow suffocation, and yet there was implicit understanding from a large part of the audience that his death represented compassion in a broader moral perspective. This was never articulated to the level of conscientious evaluation and most yet assented to this conclusion with little compunction.
The psychiatric illnesses that then affected patients of the Cuckoo’s Nest book and movie is nothing compared to the dereliction of insights that affect leadership classes of the world today, especially the political and financial classes of the United States. If U.S. Congress were more affected by common anxieties rather than delusions of being well informed (when they are often misinformed by our tax-paid Agency personnel) we Americans might stand a chance in staying some kind of viable United Nation. Dale Harding in Cuckoo’s Nest as intellectualizer of abstruse abstractions, had he the psychopath’s capacity to lie and not care, would be a welcome at the State Department’s hall of scoundrels who blatantly lie with newspeak to the American people and world (getting more rabid and bald faced by the day).
A TRUE GIFT:
Death is really the great gift to those who have learned of life’s heavy spiritual and social messages, so much so, death could be thought as even more a gift than life itself. Jaded people, that is cynical people who have lost faith in mankind, but who are open in their eyes to see more truths, realize it is one’s birth that ought be mourned and one’s funeral as appropriate time for celebration.
Death itself is mankind's salvation—as any vampire worthy his or her salt would aver. Metaphorically the vampire is the one who comes to realize life is not some simple set of idealist feelings but a consciousness to living off other forms of life. It is a realization that humanity too is parasitic (as opposed to saintly and not always worthy of being forgiven). It recognizes the evil is somewhat built into our DNA and biological and psychological drives.
We, as animals, should not be blamed for all our animal needs or human assumptions—even those that are not realistic. We as participants of life instead need to have some intellectual space to realize the inevitable violence of our existence—far more than simply being seduced to pour gallons of herbicide on our personal lawns and gardens or spraying five ounces of insecticide at one stray insect intruder in the kitchen.
Humanity is very much about violence (even if we also are very capable of cooperation and empathy). One thing that is so alarming about our species: we have almost zero control over how this propensity will take us into the future of more and more perversely invested monies for more war machine realities.
We are dominated by fears and there are agencies that specialize in manipulating such fears. Further too many want to believe everything the experts say on TV. Life today is more hysteria than most people admit.
But when we die we want to naturally die quickly and not painfully—that is why it is not automatically more cruel for a cold blooded killer to shoot someone with a gun two versus twenty times (what matters is the victim dies quickly and does not experience a great deal of pain by lingering, slow death). A murder with more bullets might in fact be more humane. Equally that is why a quick beheading of a prisoner is less cruel than long and slow but painful torture in a prison cell. The guillotine may have been sensational but it was less cruel than slow, painful and systematic torture, as one at least died quickly—even if bloodily.
The facts of natural history include we must all die—a reality that itself questions the very postulate of just how sacred is, or was, life—and why there needed to be so much human superstition of an afterlife created by the human imagination to explain away the obvious truth of death and our mortality. Few question the finality and mortality of frogs or grasshoppers. In a sense we are all sacrificed.
Ernest Becker's book The Denial of Death goes into some detail on how various civilizations had come to imagining and believing in an afterlife (in which you do not really die but pass on from one form and awareness level to another). But no skeptic would agree religious explanations currently in fad today (that is for the last three thousand years or so) have any true or satisfactory basis in reality. Not only do these many cultural adaptations appear as pipe dreams they do not even appear to have a true sense of bliss or security (which is exactly the qualities promised).
The whole heaven and hell paradigm is nothing more than ‘another’ form of human judgment and human politics in which the soul is still subject to the carrot and stick of pain or pleasure (and related anxieties regarding the politics of pleasing authority). A real heaven would be more than history’s obsessive worry about being admitted, and then once admitted, more worry about appropriately subordinating one’s soul to the established norms such as needing to be pleasing a hierarchical God (who supposedly gets all the glory).
So why cannot a human at least have some control as to how he or she dies, rather then leaving it completely up to chance, that includes any number of medical conditions from the aging process, few being especially fun or desirous to experience (never mind the high costs of unaffordable medical care)?
And even if one could anticipate a relatively healthy and financially secure old age as golden years (as too few can), one still deals with the many banal and alienating realities in life itself (and too much of American modern life amounts to the banal), such as constantly clicking the TV remote control to find something half way interesting or entertaining as escape and distraction—in the context of a kaleidoscope of continuous advertisements pushed onto one’s eyes and ears. Advertising also play to peoples’ fears and anxieties whereas mass news media plants disinformation to mislead viewers about the truth to current international events. Why then would anyone choose to be born in a world in which you have either news stations ignoring real news stories or manipulating the facts to a level of distortion? Where is there peace in this give-me-my-medication scenario of tons of pharmacy products advertised later then that night?
Human realpolitiks will ruthlessly oppress a majority of populations if necessary—this is what some people intuitively know. Given all the contenders to be on top the human anthill in times of political distress (knowing how history usually plays itself out) divining the future implies humanity does not likely stand a chance of surviving as a species. The real question is how will the vast destructions take place and how terribly will too many masses of people suffer in the process.
Western countries can’t even get peace in the Middle East (or at least get our noses out of its business). Every sane idea is countered with lavish violence. Instead media supply the naïve masses with baubles of pseudo-reality and infotainment. Post-modernist times are distracted to listen to self-righteous radio talk jocks who know far less than they pretend. Yet what else to do while stuck in cramped city interstate driving to or fro work each work day (contemplating realities of life on the highway, that is those rude, bully-centric and dangerous drivers one experiences daily, and the many annoying stop signs, within ever-growing populations, is a set of thought patterns worthy of cynicism all on their own).
Or why bring a child into a world with so much capacity for massive tentacle spying on all peoples everywhere meanwhile governments deny more and more Constitutional rights? The National Security State that has sprung on Americans since World War 2 and the Cold War hysteria leading into the deceptive propaganda about Vietnam.
And we haven’t really discussed much in the way of environmental issues.
Therefore even if mental health experts claim most suicides do not happen because of broad political or social forms of alienation but because of personal reasons—often related to more mundane things—including drug and alcohol addictions—then we step back to know a lot of perspective also has to do with one’s overall assessment of the human condition) so this professional assertion hardly lets helping professions off the hook about not really seeing deeper realities.
It may be true those who abuse drugs or alcohol are tied to personal idiosyncrasies and personality traits, stemming from both nature and nurture, and yet idiosyncratic nature also resides in a world of greater social, political, religious, ethnic attitudes, including all things related to mind and soul, and this gestalt of nature and nurture lends to one’s dispositions including possible desire to end one’s life.
Some of us, granted not many, who have studied enough landscapes of human history, including vagaries of human nature, as noting often corrupt policies and motivations found in politics, can rightly portend some pretty grim clouds on the horizon for a great part of humanity—including a greater deal of potential and likely oppression or repression as the masses get restless and boisterous within their own boundaries in times of stress (some inevitable or quite likely). There are even many people who study finance and economics who predict a currency crash with likely devastating consequences. Irrespective it is most likely true there are various markets that are over-valued such as derivatives, stocks, bonds, etc.
Nor have few Americans, for example, have really grasped the police state nature of Senator Joe Leiberman’s Department of Homeland Security—even if they have been given important clues to start connecting dots such as the excessive spying of NSA and private corporations and other countries as personal information is shared. Why are not more journalists raising questions on such things as the Department of Homeland Security is securing hundreds of millions (1.6 billion) bullets many which are hollow point bullets (the U.S. population is only 320 million), and Pentagon sharing of thousands of machine guns for “internal use” within the United States to police departments and state guards across the country (in their militarization of police departments)? See: “In Whose America:” at: www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175957/
Nevertheless there are liberal outlets doing news stories meant to espouse banning weapons and guns from private ownership as private citizens. These realities and strategies makes no sense, as they assume common day people never need to protect themselves from government power or it’s potential of corruption (or Israel’s influence into getting our country into so many wars in the Middle East). Whereas tyrannical governments always want to disarm the masses so why are so many progressive types playing to the same mindset while we literally have the equivalent of a Stalinist Cheka in place here?
So if someone decides to commit suicide, then does not such a person have a right to end his or her life in an efficient manner, such as with a gun, even if a gun gives evidence of violence?
There are few, if any, current institutions that help provide for a humane way for people who want to die in peace and dignity. Most religious institutions provide no humane and dignified way to die under one’s own will. What kind of religion would force people to live in inhumane circumstances and have nothing but a closed wall to the realities that challenge their dogma?
Or why do people presuppose a life in prison is somehow more humane than the death penalty (if done in a relatively humane way)? They ignore the truth death gives freedom from the cage of prison life. Maybe the death penalty is less formidable than a long life in some penal institutions—that is if they actually had humane ways of killing people in a timely fashion (and not sitting on death row forever)? And maybe firing squads do beat current day drug injection methods in regards to far less suffering as process? So-called progressives who assume a long life in prison is preferable to being put to death are imposing their self-righteous (and idealistically naive) views on other people. Anyone sentenced to a long-term imprisonment or death ought to have a choice.
Prisoners too should have a right to commit suicide. This is not an argument to create conditions in which people would actually want to—as such conditions are often already created.
Also maybe there are criminals, who, when confronting police trying to arrest, act in manners that elicit death by a police officer’s gun rather then being handcuffed and imprisoned? In another words maybe criminals at times deliberately invite death over arrest? No or little discussion here? Is it because it would chip at the politically charged debate that police are too often the bad guys?
Recently DemocracyNow.Org showed a clip of a debate between Massachusetts U.S. Senator between John Kerry and then Massachusetts Governor William Weld. The clip was in regard to the death penalty and Kerry was asked in 1996 debate: “Why he would value the life of a criminal cop killer over the police officer killed?” Kerry’s response was: “Its not worth more, its not worth anything, its scum that ought to be thrown in jail and have to learn day after day the pain and hell of living with the loss of freedom and the crime committed.” This remark, versus the idea of a state power taking a life in revenge, is not any more moral (even if audience is clapping with a phony and shallow idealism). It is a blatant argument for cruelty and revenge hidden under behind a mask of liberal ideology. Quick death from humanity can be the lesser of evils. Kerry sounded like a man filled with hateful wrath and was arguing for “scum thrown into jail” because it would be more suffering than the death penalty (and it was about winning an election).
Or why do so many people assume that one’s death is such a terrible outcome and that any form of life is undoubtedly better than death—even keeping people alive with machines when they would naturally die on their own?
Even plenty liberals who believe in abortion will also veto your right to take your own life, even if you have more than adequately surveyed the situation and decided you do not want to participate in mankind’s games of chance and luck. If so many people believe in the right to have an abortion than why do some of them not believe in the right of and individual to suicide? After all what better argument to show that having an abortion is not mostly a selfish choice for riddance of hassles and responsibilities—that in fact life is such a serious matter it cannot be reduced to emotional clichés.
“Give me liberty or give me death” once meant something gallant and brave.
How many future generations need to witness the constant oppression of Palestinians decade after decade? Yet there are those who admire the Palestinians for not caving in to atrocious Israeli bombing and war crimes carried to 51 days this summer. Admirers then come to accept the argument put by some Palestinians who say they would rather die then live under the constant Israel oppression. So why should not anyone institutionalized person not have the right to die in peace rather than be kept alive to live in either indefinite detention or unjust penal colonies?
Americans can’t even get Gulag Gitmo closed and instead we will deal with pathetic variation versions of current day McCarthyism as Senate dictator Tom Cotton and delusional uncle Ted Cruz will help lead the way.
The truly aware and politically active “do” fear political concentration, imprisonment, political torture and murder. We understand such possibilities could happen and may likely happen to some activists or writers. People who brush off so-called conspiracy theorists are often more naïve then they can ever begin to imagine themselves because some conspiracies are true realities (and frankly too many conspiracies are true despite the Average American’s blind faith in assuming themselves they live in the real world of reality even if many other con
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