Compassion… humans have a great capacity for compassion for their fellow human beings. Sympathy for another’s suffering and a desire to alleviate that suffering helped to make socializing and the forming of groups possible for the human animal. An ability to put oneself in “another’s shoes” and understand the viewpoints, desires, etc, of another is one of the great human qualities. With this ability we can perceive the suffering another is enduring, and sympathize, even when there is little we can do to alleviate that suffering. Although our own bodies may be perfectly healthy, our minds make us endure emotional pain, a sick-feeling in our stomachs, when experiencing sympathy for another’s pain. A wrenching anxiety, to take action, to end the suffering, to make things better.
The issue in discussion is that of the condition of fully competent, but terminally ill, and suffering human beings. Animals when suffering are unable to actually voice or even decide for themselves, but are given the option of being “put-down”, to end the suffering, by sympathetic human beings. Human beings, however, are required to endure unimaginable agonies to their very last labored breath, on purely illogical moral grounds. If anyone so much as flips a switch, or allows a competent terminally ill patient, flip that switch, murder charges are drawn up. It is labeled “assisted suicide”.
It’s time to call it “assisted death” instead of “assisted suicide”. It is a show of compassion, sympathy, for a fellow human being. A person should be able to make the decision of when and how to die, while still competent to do so. These terminally ill people, sometimes suffering in great pain, at other times losing who they are to the ravages of Alzheimer’s, or other mentally debilitating diseases, should be able to have the option of ending their lives at a time of their choosing, rather than let the disease leave them an empty shell of a body, with no sense of self, and totally dependent on others for existence.
Presently, humans treat animals with a better level of compassion than their fellow human beings. This must change. There will be howls from the far right, who will say that death should be at the time of the creator’s choice and man should not interfere. At the same time, these people are strong supporters of the death penalty. A stark contradiction. These same people are usually also hawks where the military is concerned. No abortions, but war is okay, the death penalty is okay. No assisted death, but war is okay, the death penalty is okay. A purely inconsistent stance.
Humanity must begin to respect itself; have compassion for itself. Making assisted death legal will not bring down the quality or value of life. It will enhance life. An individual selects the time and place where they prefer to die, and people they have known will remember them strong and capable, rather than the wasted shell, the empty mind addled by Alzheimer’s. A life well-lived, a departure, well-planned.