Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Friday, December 16, 2016

Nihilistic approach ?

 I read a meme yesterday and was moved to leave a comment. It was more of a question than anything else and a question I have kept pondering. But first, the meme. What it says is, " An assisted dying law would not result in more people dying, but in fewer people suffering. " I understand the sentiment but can't agree based on my moral and ethical judgement. What I commented was, if you assist someone in committing suicide are you then not an accomplice to murder ? That was my first thought regarding that meme. A brief discussion followed and I read others take on that. I certainly agreed with everyone that everything possible should be done to make a person comfortable when they are suffering. I draw the line at killing them, or helping to kill them. That is the point where I seem to take a different path.
 I have continued to think about the meme. It says an assisted dying law would not result in more people dying. Well that is surely true, the same number of people are born, will die. That's the way it works. As to fewer people suffering I can't see how it would reduce the number, only the longevity of that suffering. But, that is all a matter of semantics. I continue to focus on the assisting in their death part of this question. During our brief discussion I wondered how a doctor would react to this. I stated the oath they take says they shall do no harm. I went later on and read the Hippocratic oath, there are several, but learned that phrase isn't part of any one of them. So, I stand corrected in that regard. 
  " I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God. "
 That is one paragraph taken from the modern Hippocratic oath taken by the majority of physicians. The last two lines I found of great interest. It says it may be within his power to take a life as well as save one. Fascinating that it goes on to say I must not play God.  
 " I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism."
 This is another line from that oath. It says they must avoid overtreatment and nihilism. Well I admit I had to look that one up. Nihilism is the rejection of all religious and moral principles in the belief that life is meaningless.
 So, I'm thinking from the doctors standpoint assisted dying ( suicide ) is open to interpretation as far as the oath goes. If that doctors' moral and religious values allows him to do such, there is nothing in that oath to stop him. Should we pass a law legalizing such a practice would the doctor be then obligated to provide the service contrary to his or her personal belief ? To me the same dilemma as having to bake that cake or recognize gay marriages. No different that allowing someone to use a restroom based solely on their personal self identification of gender.
 I have been thinking about the rationalization for performing such a thing. I hear the argument that in cases where there is no hope for recovery, where there is much pain and suffering it is a mercy. Mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm. That is what the dictionary says about it. So one would have to say it is not merciful to harm or kill anyone. I'm thinking the mercy would be towards our self, to ease our own anguish over the suffering of someone we love. And so I remain thinking that if I assist in expediting that death, I am assisting in suicide or an accomplice to murder. And isn't suicide murdering yourself ?
 We do have many names for the way we may die. If we just go to sleep and not wake up, it is a natural death. For everything else we label the cause of death. Cancer, stroke, heart attacks, run over by a bus or whatever. If we assist in that death how do we then list that ? Was it a suicide or a murder ? A " mercy " killing ?  Would it be justifiable homicide ? I can understand that thinking because I do think there are circumstances where that action is justified. If you are trying to kill me, I'll try to kill you first. I'm justified. I'm also justified to prevent you from harming others, in some circumstances. But we are now walking on a slippery slope. Should I help you if you request to die ? What are the qualifiers for justifying that help ? Even if I have a written, certified and binding document absolving me of all liability, should I have the legal authority to help you die ? Okay I do, but does that document absolve me of my moral or religious principles ? No, of course it doesn't. Those are strictly personal things. But I would say this. The laws of a nation define its' moral character. For better or worse that is what they do. As a nation we must exercise extreme caution when considering such things. I would not impose my belief upon you or anyone else. The thing I can not escape is : Exodus 20:13. Thou shalt not kill - Thou shalt not do any thing hurtful to the health, or life of thy own body, or any other's.
 And so after having considered all of this I don't really have an answer. I can answer for myself, I have no issue with that. But can I impose that belief upon others. I understand there are those that practice Nihilism, if that is the correct way of saying that. And in my thinking one would have to reject all religious and moral principles. That however is also a personal thing is it not ? The interpretation of what any religious or moral text has to say is subjective. What does it mean to you ? As a citizen of this nation with the privilege of casting my vote, I would vote no. That doesn't mean I think any less or any more of anyone that would vote otherwise. It is not always necessary to defend ones' position. It is also not necessary that everyone agree with mine. They would be wise to do so however. At least that is my opinion. And that is all I can offer.