Empty Days

Monday, February 02, 2004

Suicide vs euthanasia

What's the point of going on? Is it really easier than taking the other direction - against the current of life, so to speak?

Any which way it's thinking - either trying to convince yourself to live, or trying to convince yourself to die. Nothing is given and it's an endless decision of life and death whether to climb one wall rather than the other.

There's the instinct of self-preservation of course - far more basic than any mental calamities. This wall has deeper foundations and is harder to take down. But it is not impossible. It takes major digging - this is Alcatraz.

***

I've always known there was something wrong with me. At least as far as I can remember myself. Things looked less dire in the early days, but this rock of contention has gradually come to the surface and it's no use pretending it never was there in the first place. If you're destined to take your own life, you will - don't you ever worry about that.

Suicide is not a rash decision - it is the culmination of a lifetime of efforts and trials that all lead to the same conclusion. There is a logic to it. Every lifestory has a logic of its own and it is damn hard to grasp, let alone explain. On the surface of it things always look absurd and tragic. But they're not that mindless. Far from it.

***

In the documentary about Peter Singer, one of the opponents mentioned something called The Hemlock Society which, he said, advocates suicide. And not simply suicide - but the necessity of suicide. In his view, most of those fervently in favor of authanasia are also proponents of suicide-as-the-best-possible-answer-to-all-your-problems.

I think this is a blatant exaggeration - because this guy confused two things: people in favor or free choice as to ending one's life in a dignified manner (instead of hiding in the bathroom and cutting your veins), and people in love with suicide in general (and those exist too, but these guys have a cult mentality and for them euthanasia is just one more slogan).

And this is something I am very aware of because I've seen this mentality played out on various newsgroups and of course the absurd thing about all this is that those so-called "advocates" are somehow content to push the theory forever without ever taking the appropriate actions themselves. The reason I say it's a cult-mentality is because they can't tolerate dissent or disagreement: you're either "in" 100% (in which case you are patted on the back and encouragingly asked how soon you're planning your next attempt) or you're the enemy. Those who buy into this bullshit are mostly young people - it's just another form of group-belonging for them and the renegade-philosophy that goes with it is really simple ("Fuck this world, it's worthless and I know better. I am going to die on you, fucks" - that type of thing). These people have their own cheer-leaders and their own much-respected-gurus. The sad thing is of course seeing people actually kill themselves partly because it's viewed as the ultimate endorsement of the philosophy.

There is something squalid about a person killing himself in order to please a group.

***

What is euthanasia, if you think of it in terms of suicide? Simply this: going to a chemist and asking him for some potent drug that will spare you the trouble of more messy means. But then you will have to present good reasons for your decision - and put yourself on trial, to spare the chemist's good conscience. Do you need this trial and can you explain? Sometimes you can, sometimes you can't. The one thing about suicide is that it is a free decision - you have no accounts to render to anybody. And I'd rather forgo the chemist with his wonder-drug than deprive myself of this freedom. It's between you, your conscience, and God - if you believe in God. Nobody else enters into this.

***

To reverse your in-built views on how life and death are related - it's a huge struggle. The point is to come to terms with death and with your own place in life, or out of it. There are many fears and you can't defeat these fears if you don't come to peace with yourself in your thinking first. Suicide is a letting go of fears - and it happens well before the actual event. It's a decision.

Like with all things in a lifestory a lot of it is a matter of luck. Thinking and the direction of thinking is largely a matter of luck because unforseeable events come into play - both internal and external. There are no recepies for life, and none for death. Wherever your lifestory may take you - you will go.





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