Sunday, July 10, 2011

My new hero ...

I have a new hero ... Sir Terry Prachett.

Sir Terry is a gray-bearded elderly man with a soft British accent who is a very successful author of science fiction/fantasy. The reason this man has become my leader is his calling for euthanasia tribunals to give sufferers from incurable diseases the right to medical help to end their lives. Sir Terry is suffering the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

In a recent interview Sir Terry made a number of statements I appreciated. For one, he blames today’s accepted vision of death and the treatment of palliative care on what he labels “curdled Christianity”. It is the belief that a person’s life is sacrosanct and only God should be the final arbitrator of when it ends is, in his words, inhuman. Especially, he points out, when one is suffering an incurable diseased, pain-filled life. That, he says is the fullness of inhumanity.

Of his own Alzheimer’s, he is quoted as saying, "It is not nice and I do not wish to be there for the endgame." Sir Terry is a patron of the UK’s Alzheimer's Research Trust, and has donated £500,000 of his own money for research.

Another quote from the interview I watched on ABC1 (that’s Australia’s ABC, not the one in the US) explained: "I don't think people are particularly bothered about death, it's the life before death that worries us.

The fear that euthanasia would open the door for someone from the younger generation hurrying an elderly relative’s death for personal gain is, Sir Terry says, is bunk. He said there was no evidence from countries where assisted dying is allowed of granny being coerced into dying so relatives could get their hands on her money.
It is a matter of personal choice, he stated. "Choice is very important in this matter. But there will be some probably older, probably wiser GPs, who will understand. The tribunal would be acting for the good of society as well as that of the applicant – and ensure they are of sound and informed mind, firm in their purpose, suffering from a life-threatening and incurable disease and not under the influence of a third party.

One aspect of allowing such an act would, he believes, open the door for the person to put off taking the final action. When the decision is theirs it is likely to be delayed. “Ah, yes today would be a good day to die,” he visualizes someone saying, “except it’s also a good day to visit with my friends so I’ll do it tomorrow.”
It gives a person a different set of values when he or she has that choice. "If I knew that I could die, I would live. My life, my death, my choice."

Euthanasia isn’t the only topic for which Sir Terry is known to hold strong opinions on that find agreement with me; there is also religion. I won’t go into it here, but will simply add a youtube conversation with Sir Terry which I applaud.

Sit through this mini-lecture and get a feel for this man’s thinking and he just might become your hero too.

Now I’ve got a lawn that needs mowing. Who in hell ever decided it was cool to grow grass for no other reason than to have something to mow?

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