Does the Euthanasia Fantasia faze ya?
Out of step again – I can’t help sensing a disconnect from the raised pulse of the current assisted dying / euthanasia debate. A huge proportion of the global populous don’t get a choice about how they live let alone how they die. Far too many aren't getting to live at all.
The basic ‘problem’ in the West is that we've developed resources, technical ability and unquestioning momentum to keep people alive in extreme circumstances. Along the route we unhitched the moral debate from medical advances.
Recently I listened with some cynicism to a news report about the reduction in road deaths. My sat nav for stat shite went haywire. Are there really fewer accidents on our congested roads or are the statistics at least partially accounted for by the technical advances that keep severely injured people alive?
Our ability to spend gob-smacking amounts of time and energy on the minutiae of comfortable existence in this country while side-lining the pain of others is easily summed up by a news report I listened to a few minutes ago.
“...the majority of those killed in Gaza are civilians ... now the golf”
21 million people living in the world today – over 200 years since the abolition of slavery – are victims of slaving and people trafficking. In too many areas of Africa, countless infants struggle and don’t make it to their 5th birthdays. Slaughter in Iraq is a monthly ‘norm’. Death from preventable disease takes millions of lives prematurely. We know that in conflict zones it is more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier. And so on and so on, the depressing information circles like starving crows with broken feathers while we look the other way.
This is how we make ourselves irrelevant. Like the Church of England expending precious time and funds trying to combat its inherent misogyny while its flock disperse, decrease, die. Like the government taking important Parliamentary time on making sure they can track our e-mails (see last week’s blog) while youngsters leave school unable to read and even people in work sometimes can’t afford to live. Millions of dollars around the world are still being spent on trophy sporting events while children live on the streets, prey to life’s monsters. And actually – what these ego-fests show us – the Olympics, the World Cup etc is that, as humans, if we want something badly enough – however daft – we can do it. It’s just a shame that the people controlling the purse strings are more interested in prestige than people.
So – yes, the assisted dying debate – to give it its sanitised nom-de-plume. The fact is that financial imperatives will eventually force its legalisation. In the West, very soon, there simply won’t be enough healthy working people to support the chronically sick. Meanwhile, the comfortable, well-educated classes who have the where-with-all to not only fight for what they want but also to control the political agenda are a tiny minority. They are often the same minority who can get their kids into the best schools, buy their way to the front of NHS queues. When I lived in the N.E, I read about many cases where miners died of horrible lung diseases while their families tried to get the compensation they were due from the industry that ruined their health. Many died waiting. The families of the victims of Bhopal (a forgotten tragedy of quarter of a century ago) received no proper compensation from the American chemical company that devastated their community – a place where children are still born dreadfully malformed as a result of Union Carbide’s monumental gross criminal negligence.
In summary – the problem we seem to have is that in many parts of the world people are not being allowed to live either decently or at all. In the privileged West, people who are not only ready but only live because science has taken them beyond human endurance, are not being allowed to die.
This week’s recommended blog from the archives,
32 The NHS and the Condom of Common Sense.