Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Logical Death

Read the Reuters article here
Stephen Hawking, the genius astrophysicist, has spoken out for legalizing assisted suicide. Reuters has the story here.

Most of us, as we age or face a health crisis, find ourselves dealing with pressure to formulate a "health care directive," which is legalese for designating someone to pull the plug.

Hawking, of course, is a brain, but he's a brain locked in a body totally paralyzed by ALS. He's made it fifty years past diagnosis coping with a disease that kills early. Dr. Death—Jack Kevorkian—killed many people in far better circumstance than Hawking.

That means, setting aside unbearable pain so overwhelming as to damage one's ability to think, Hawking has the right idea when he says the essence of living life in his circumstance is "It's all in the mind."

Endurance. Courage. Curiosity. The will to find happiness. "It's all in the mind."

Hawking, of course, is an agnostic, or perhaps an atheist, and his life is what he has. Secondly, Hawking is a scientist, a man for whom life has an element of logical purity. And so I can see why he said "There must be safeguards that the person concerned genuinely wants to end their life and are not being pressurized into it or have it done without their knowledge and consent as would have been the case with me."

In a perfect world, yes. But this, we all know, isn't a perfect world, and people are sometimes lazy, selfish, neglectful, and greedy. And that means that some on life-support might end up dead even if they'd prefer not to be.

The good folks at Not Dead Yet make the argument far better than I. You can read their take here.

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