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PI Editorial: Live, Damn You!
Conventional morality enjoins a hideous third alternative: suffer & live.
Conventional morality (& law) says - even if you are in unendurable, intractable pain from an incurable illness, you must put up with it till nature puts you out of your misery. You may neither kill yourself, nor seek the assistance of another to do so.
Conventional morality (& law) says - you may not enter a preemptive pact with another to end your life in the event of your losing your mind. Even though you yourself may not consciously suffer while in this state, others will ... & it's very important that they do, without relief. Suffering is good for everyone. Suffer & live; live to suffer.
In New Zealand, blighted like other western societies with the woeful ethics of Christianity & its aftermath, 76-year-old Rex Law awaits sentence for murdering his wife. They had been married for 54 years. Seeing the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease on others, they made a deal to "do each other in" should either of them succumb to it. Seven years ago, Olga Law began to do silly things, such as putting fish food on the lawn instead of in the pond. Five years ago the diagnosis was made: Alzheimer's. Averse to putting his wife in an institution, Mr Law took care of her at home, where the Alzheimer's took its relentless, inexorable course. Eventually Olga recognised no one. She became incontinent, abusive & violent. On March 6 this year, Mr Law decided to honour the pact he & his wife had made. He gave her several sleeping pills. When she fell asleep, he bludgeoned, then suffocated her. "I'll be with you soon," he said, kissing her. He then slashed his wrists & waited to die. But his blood coagulated, & he decided to call the police, to whom he made a full confession.
The law allows for non-custodial sentences for murder. It is to be hoped that such a sentence will be passed down on Mr Law. But that is scarcely the ideal solution to the big-picture problem. The law should be changed to recognise that one's life is one's own - & how, when, why, & with whose help one ends it is not the law's business, just so long as no force or fraud is involved. Assisting a suicide by mutual agreement, or terminating a life by prior agreement when that life becomes a living death, should not be classified as "murder" in the first place.
In my book, Mr Law is not a murderer, but a hero. And I hereby serve notice to anyone interested: when my time comes, I shall certainly be choosing MY moment. If I'm unable to make the choice, or to activate it, & the law has NOT changed, I trust someone among my friends will likewise step up to be a hero. The one difference I would enjoin: make sure you won't get caught, & confess to nothing! When the state is acting tyrannically, you do not owe it the truth.
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