Friday 17 August 2012

Burying our heads in the sand

As a blogger the adage not to mix business with personal life can become a little blurred - as it has in today's blog. Generally my blogs are fairly safe observations of daily life applied to the work I do whether in business, purchasing or for personal well being. Today's blog certainly isn't safe - and it doesn't apply to the work I do. But that blogger in me won't let me rest until the words swirling around my head and the tears flowing down my cheeks are expressed here.

Tony Nicklinson, pictured here, has locked in syndrome and wants the right for a Dr to end his life. Today the court rejected his request and have stated it's only the UK parliament that can provide the means to achieving this.

Legally I'm sure that judgement is right but this issue needs resolution because as a society we can't keep burying our heads in the sand about death. We act as if death has at all costs to be avoided irrespective of the suffering we might impose on someone as a result of our decision. We'd rather them be alive and suffering than dead. How is that compassionate? How is that loving? It's as if we're more worried about how we're feeling than the person in pain.

We can't keep expecting those severely impacted by the decisions they're asking to change, to employ yet more time, energy and emotion to change the outcome. Would you want that of your final days/months or years on this planet? What sort of sadistic race have we become to stand by as others suffer. If it was an animal in that much pain we'd be taken to court for not putting it out of its misery - in what way is this situation different?

How can we look on and do nothing shaking our head as we do saying "it's so sad" and then list many reasons it's not possible for Tony to choose to die. I might not make the same decision if I was in his position, or might, but I'd certainly like to believe I had the choice about my own life and death.

Our ability to extend life has surely gone beyond what anyone could have expected when I was born 50 years ago. As a result there are many people living wonderfully active, or inactive lives for that matter, who are happy for the extra years they have been given. There are many others who wish the very advancements that extended their life hadn't done so.

When will we allow death to have the same level of advancement applied to it as life? Of course we have to protect the vulnerable, of course we have to understand the mental well being of the person making the decision. Yet we do also have to stop saying it's not possible to end a life and find ways to do so. I for one would not want to be in Tony's situation and know I had no choice about how I live, and if I so chose to die.
  • If Dr's can't do it then let's pull together a job description of someone who can
  • If we're worried about the vulnerable let's identify the criteria that would protect them
  • If we're worried about cohersion let's identify ways of ensuring its uncovered
  • If we're worried about changes in mind lets identify ways to assess their mental well being  
Here's hoping love and compassion finds a way to resolve the right of everyone to a life and death of their choosing.

Tony's picture above source: via Alison on Pinterest

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