Our views on mortality have gradually been evolved
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Our views on mortality have gradually been evolved to an extent where we understand death not to only mean the physical halting of a heartbeat; "some people die at 25 and aren't buried until 75", as expressed by Benjamin Franklin. We're all familiar with the taxing task of persevering through a bad day. Now imagine that mild vexation was intensified to an irrepressible exasperation that dominated every second of every day. Imagine being forced to live through what the most fortunate of human beings call a 'rough patch', knowing that it's the prototype for the rest of your dreary existence? Stretch your imagination to even begin to envision what people like Nigel Pratten only had to look around to see. At the young age of 41, following his diagnosis of degenerative Huntington's disease, the world stopped being his oyster and became a tool of imprisonment. For what cause - to enjoy the life he was blessed with? Can it even still be deemed a 'life' - let alone a blessing - if all it offers is misery? Trapped in a glass cage, Nigel could see the wonders of the world around him, but participate in none of it. We cannot claim humanity, whilst being a society that forces its people to endure endless, meaningless suffering which - in more severe cases like Nigel's - can only be relieved by a mother having to overdose her own child. The legalisation of euthanasia is a step towards freedom: not only freedom in life, but freedom in death.
Freedom, however, can be interpreted in many different ways. What good is a freedom that allows you to die; to escape the necessity of hardship? True liberation is in living through tribulation and familiarising yourself with your strengths and weaknesses. Legalisation would only lead to a society of accepted cowardice and 'copouts'. Its effects would also exceed such mental results and have a substantial impact on the physical. Fortunately, in a world where we are continuously finding ways to break social norms, we've become more accepting of each other. We've learn to fight discrimination avidly: as human beings of equal status, we all have the same rights. If euthanasia was legalised, how long would it be before equality was fought for? Before it was decided that we should all 'be able to choose how and when we die'? It would become all too easy for the depressed teenager to demand euthanasia in the name of equality; especially seeing as the arguments for euthanasia deem 'mental pain to be as real as physical pain.' There seems to be something indefinably wrong about allowing those in a temporary affliction to have their lives taken. Then again, there is also something ambiguously regressive in terms of human rights about not allowing someone in pain, whether permanent or brief, to have their life taken.
Fundamentally, there is a societal consensus regarding our response to death's: trepidation. For what reason? Many suggest that it's the spine-chilling idea of an abrupt, untimely end to the life we've constructed on this earth. Despite its connotations, when concerning one's time of death, the term 'surprise' can take on a more sinister meaning. Surely being able to specify the details of your death would take away the element of precipitation, and thus relax us all substantially? Aside from de-stressing, the legalisation of euthanasia would also ensure a high quality of life. When we're able to choose how and when we die, we suddenly value our lives and go to considerable lengths to make them worth living, or - in the words of Sir Terry Pratchett, "if [we] knew that [we] could die, [we] would live." When diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer's disease, knowing his time was limited, Pratchett had to make everyday 'worth living' for an indefinite amount of time, before finally dying one morning in his home - alone. Had euthanasia been legalised, he would have been able to die without an implacable sense of paranoia eating away at him, but rather 'on the lawn... with a brandy in [his] hand... and with Thomas Tallis on [his] iPod' - they way he wanted to.
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