Life and Death

A little bit of a political post, because it’s being decided in the political realm. It’s more of a philosophical pondering (hence its placement in Ponder-able). If you don’t live in Colorado, politically it doesn’t matter to you. On the other hand, if you live in Oregon, you’ve had it around for almost two decades now.

In this political year, 2016, there are a few amendments and propositions in Colorado that I’m not quite fully informed on. But there’s one that strikes home: Proposition 106, promoted as the “death in dignity” proposal.

The Denver Archdioces opposes it, saying that life at any level must be treasured and preserved. That statement might be important to those raised and/or practicing Catholics. Well, I disagree with them. It. Whatever.

So here’s a little secret, sorta, in my life. I have a great friend my own age. give or take six months. He’s appeared, by way of pseudonym, in a couple stories elsewhere in my blog (Wild Pigs and Jackass Jamboree). We have a pact. We call it the “pillow pact.” And that is that if one of us reaches a stage where depleted quality of life and burden on our loved one reaches a point that is untenable to our personal philosophy, the other will bring a pillow into the room and do what needs to be done.

We mean it in humor. But in our own way, we’re serious. I’ve told my family that if things get bad, and my friend shows up, let him have an hour alone with me. They think I’m joking, and I sorta am, but there’s a serious element to it.

Listen, kids.

Death is the most natural part of life. And life feeds on death. It’s not an either/or, either something is alive or it’s all gone. It’s a continuing process in the spectrum of existence. Life doesn’t happen, doesn’t continue, without death. Everything that we eat, vegan or carnivorous, feeds on death. Life builds on the residual biomass that continues when other life is gone. The inevitability and necessity of death is not a philosophical thing. It’s a reality thing.

When we humans try to exist past our shelf life, it’s not only non-natural, it’s a retardant to those who are giving their energy to the world. Now they have to give their positive and constructive energy to one who is no longer contributing, but just trying to hang on.

I’m not saying that we should stop ministering to old folks and put them down for their dirt nap. Grandma takes care of old folks, and she’s a tender, caring woman, and I am proud and in awe of her for how well and lovingly she does it. No, it’s not inviting the elders to the Euthanasia Ball. What I’m saying is to accept the time to go for what it is.

So okay, back to the Colorado proposition. It’s not focused on that particular philosophy that I just somewhat inelegantly blathered about. What the proposition is saying: When people are doomed and in intractable pain, can’t we allow them to let it go, if a couple MDs agree?

It seems simple to me. Yes, let’s allow it. Because the alternative is to force people to live on, for a short term or long term, in that state of intractable pain. That’s just cruel.

Are there possibilities for abuse? Well, heck, yes. Just about every law that we have has the potential for abuse. Guard against the abuse as best we can, but in the meantime, do what we need to do for the common good.

If I’ve lived past the value of life, or if continuing it is far worse then bringing it to a close, then it should be my own doggone decision. And someday, I may be faced with it, unless in the meantime I do something utterly stupid that kills me first, or maybe another heart attack hits me, this time more seriously. But if I am looking at that decision, and if a couple doctors agree that it’s a reasonable one, then let me make it.

— Grandpa

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