Give me liberty, or...

Is it better to die free than live a slave?

Really? Are you sure that that's what you'd do?

Patrick Henry's hyperbole notwithstanding, the preference of, well, anything over death is a common attitude in the West. Not so in the East: aside from Japan's famous proclivity for suicide, in general it's considered better to die than be dishonored or, worse, dishonor your entire family.

I'm definitely not in favor of this attitude, especially since outliving one's husband has been considered a mark of dishonor for a long time (not as long as you'd think; Kautilya was quite on top of the whole, if he's gone for a year she can go ahead and remarry attitude). At the same time, I think Westerners, and especially you selfish feeling-obsessed Americans, take the whole 'anything's better than death' far too far.

Case in point: euthanasia. How, exactly, is it "dignified" for someone to spend three months in pain that even the best drugs can do nothing to alleviate, and despite being on so many medications not even have enough basic functionality to walk? What you'd call "civilized" countries allow it (the Low Countries being the most famous example), and yes there is a certain level of grey area--do we do the same for a child born with the horrible Tay-Sachs disease? How far does this go? And is it really any worse than living in a country where it was somehow better to let a woman in persistent vegetative state starve to death?

So yeah. I'm in favor of letting patients kill themselves, but only after we've done everything possible for them. And I don't think suicide should be illegal, either, if that's still a person's decision after extensive counseling, therapy, and treatment.

Instead of taking the passive attitude as soon as we've done everything for the better, it's time to help people get over the worst.

(Note, yesterday's episode of "House" was more a coincidence than anything, although is it just me or has the drama jumped the shark, to never be as impressive again as it was in 4th season? I hope 6th is the last....)

No comments: