Ethical Questions About Euthanasia
Death is a fact of life and life can only exist by expoiting other living things, except in rare circumstances.
There are those who want assisted death to end their pain and burden on others.
Euthanasia is translated the "good death", where a person can die with dignity, in full possession of their faculties instead of a gradual, lingering and agonizing death where one descends into the hells of dementia. It is about choosing ones moment of death at a time where they can decide clearly. In some ways it is a call for assisted suicide or the deliberate taking of ones own life when they are still capable. For many of us, we do not want to be a burden on our loved ones when we become weak, incapable of looking after ourselves and approach death. This is especially true in these days of a weak and deteriorating economy. Dying can be a tiring and expensive process upon those who by reason of law and custom, have to support the dying as well as their own living and growing children. Those of us who are yet alive stand helpless in the face of the inevitable creeping reality about which we can do nothing for anyone of our loved ones and then ultimately ourselves. The Bible states "Living they shalt die", which means that while we are alive, we are slowly dying; or quickly in some cases. To bring this question into proper perspective, we need to go where many have not seriously gone in a long time. i.e., nature and what happens in that context as opposed to the prohibitions of civilization, religion, culture and law.
Life on this planet in the natural context exists by virtue of death. Except in the case of rare circumstances, life feeds on life and in the process, death occurs. Life feeds on death and the weakened. The assaults come on all sides. Even in the context of the comfort of civilization, we can be eaten alive. For organisms that can live without killing, they can experience death from myriad directions. Orchids are among complex organisms that do not feed on anything except airborne nutrients and moisture. In the wild, they perch in trees, often in shaded environments, feeding and drinking from the mist in the air. Another organism, lichen, lives off solid rock and holds a symbiotic relationship with algae. Though these and organisms like them don't devour other life in order to live, most other species do; particularly the fish, insects and animals. These prey often on the old, the weak and the dying. Then there is a host of insects, fish and animals that live on other fish, insects and animals.
Within our own civilization we have turned killing and death into a high science, whether if is in the form of factory farming or the factory killing floor and in warfare. Every single day we see vast quantities of produce and meat in the supermarket that all came from living beings that are now dead. We live on death and killing. In turn we are sought after and infected by parasites, viral and bacterial pathogens that live on us and eat us alive.
As we grow older in all ways we lose functions one after another after the stresses of living does its thing. These stresses come from every conceivable direction, accidents, genetic deterioration, disease, starvation, parasitic infection, fights and so on. To say that euthanasia is ethical of unethical has to be seen in a larger focus than the mere confines of a particular culture. Even here, not all cultures are equal. In some cultures, people who are reaching the stage of decrepitude are expected to wander off into the wilderness so as not to be a burden on family and community. This is particularly true in marginal societies that can barely survive from their local environment. Choosing the moment of death while one is still reasonably cogent and mobile is expected.
In many ways besides warfare, we are engaged in killing others. This is not just in the case of murder, but also the death sentence where we have a number of ways of dealing with these criminals. They are usually killed via lethal injection, by electrocution and by hanging. Not so long ago, people were burned at the stake on the strength of spectral evidence and witchcraft. Some societies impaled their victims and watched as it took days for the victim to die. Human beings are far from immune from killing one another, but this is usually toward someone who does not want to die, even if convicted of murder one.
In the comfort and isolation from nature in our industrial civilization, we have hidden the reality of death from view. Death is under censure, yet we hear about it constantly in the news. We sequester the sick and aged out of view and try not to dwell on it. We argue over legal questions of manslaughter and murder while committing genocide in imperialist wars for resources and territory in the name of patriotism. We object over suicide and those desiring euthanasia. The argument is often based on subjective rationalizations and irrational logic rather than on fact or reasonable grounds. In our own mad pursuit for one goal or another, we forget that others have wishes and goals as well and one of these goals for some is euthanasia. Death is a fact and in a society the purports freedom of association and freedom of choice, perhaps one of our ethical choices should be euthanasia. Given the facts, euthanasia is ethical.