Sunday, May 28, 2017

Euthanasia: A human right.

If we are born, it is at best the consequence of a desire of our parents. However in many cases it is no more than the result of a sexual assault, as it had been for millions of years during evolution. 
So, we may consider ourselves fortunate if our parents love us and take care of us.
Once alive, we appear to have a package of genes, that we are not able to change. We do not even know the details of our genetic programme.  A few details, mainly related to our external features, may become evident, but the rest, especially related to internal characteristics, remains largely hidden in darkness.
With this genetic programme, we are subsequently subject to numerous influences of our environment. The combination of our genetic programme and the influences of our environment may lead to a tremendous - nearly infinite - variation in the outcome. This outcome may be a lucky one, but it may as well be a bad one.

This can be easily demonstrated if we observe the lower forms of life. A dandelion in a Dutch pasture will grow up to another appearance than a similar dandelion in a pasture on a windy mountain slope in Switzerland. Contrary to a dandelion, a human being can move to another environment under the influence of his/her genetic programme.  A mind inclined to fanaticism can bring someone to become a fanatic Muslim, a fanatic Christian or a fanatic communist, depending on his place on our planet. But contrary to a dandelion, such a fanatic mind may e.g. travel to areas under control of IS (islamic state) and become the mind of a mass murderer there.
Anyone knows that lung cancer is usually caused by smoking. Nevertheless the earlier German federal chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who did smoke three packs of cigarettes a day, reached an age of 96, without getting lung cancer. Contrary to 40 years ago, then at the time I did hear a physician saying over the radio, that cancer had nothing to do with genes, it is now generally accepted that genes may have an important role in determining our susceptibility for various forms of cancer in spite of their final induction by environmental factors.

That most people do not believe in a strong influence of our genes can be explained easily. Our genes are not an open book, whereas the influence of our environment can be seen by anyone. Biologists, who are studying our predecessors in evolution, know that genetic factors are equally important.
There is an old proverb: "Where there's a will, there's a way." Unfortunately, willpower seems to be  determined by our genes earlier than by our environment. According to experimental psychologists, a free will has to be considered utopia.
But irrespective of the role of genes and environmental influence, both of these are together responsible for our own evaluation of our life.

As a consequence, under certain conditions, we should have the right to decide whether or not the balance of our life is overall positive or negative and to take the decision to end our life if we consider it as hopeless
Conditions should be defined e.g:
*Responsibilities with respect to other people, e.g. our children,
*A wish of euthanasia should be a long term wish. After a broken relationship e.g. the situation may gradually improve. A terminal disease on the other hand will only get worse, especially if it is painful.
*So each of us should get the right to decide to end his/her life and others should get the right to help us to fulfil this wish for reasons of charity, if we are not able to fulfil it ourselves. But for similar reasons, nobody (physicians inclusive) can be obliged to give this form of help if it goes against their own feelings and/or believing.
*Of course, in all cases there must be an independent check that help is not coming from those having other interests in the euthanasia than charity.

Politicians, jurists, physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, priests, clergymen and all those, who believe that they are the specialists, who are able to judge whether euthanasia is justified in a particular case, should be aware that they are overrating their own capabilities. For each of us there is only one specialist, yourself, irrespective whether you are a plumber or a philosopher.

It is incredible that politicians belonging to political parties, said to be based on the bible, are strong opponents of those who are willing to help friends or relatives having a long term wish to end their life. Charity is an important Christian order. Help by those, who will strongly miss their friend or relative after the euthanasia, may be considered charity as well as self-sacrifice. The reference by Christian politicians to the commandment: "You shall not murder (kill)" can be considered an intentional deception of the meaning of it.

It is also incredible that some politicians pretend that no elderly people would wish to end their life, if
more attention would be paid to them. This might be true for those who have spent their lives mainly by consumption and entertainment, but will certainly not apply to most of those who were creative and productive.  For the latter, e.g. a writer or a painter going blind or a composer going deaf, age might gradually become a larger problem as a consequence of the difference with their previous life. Simple people may be easier to satisfy by arbitrary contacts than intellectual people.

An attendant effect of acknowledgement of euthanasia as a human right, would possibly be that less people, being at their wits' end as a consequence of a lack of attention for their long term wish, will jump before a train or from the roof of an apartment building. This may in turn reduce the number of train drivers and paramedics with psychical problems.

Nico van Rooijen, Haarlem, April 28, 2017

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