Frankly, I thought since the passage of such a law in Oregon almost a decade ago, this issue was dead as people were seeing that it is not quite the boon that they thought it would be, but alas. Where is the Christian leadership on the issue? OK, it is California so there may be none, he said cynically, but you would think some guys on the national level would want to step in. Oh wait, they are too busy grandstanding in Kentucky over an issue that while morally wrong does not result in someones premature death.
The politics of this issue are quite complex, but the morality is not. To allow someone to cause their own death because they are “terminally” ill is morally repugnant. For one thing we are all going to die at some point, so from a purely logical view we are all terminal. Therefore, how is this any different then simply allowing someone to come in and ask the doctor for a suicide pill because of depression, or a simple determination that they have done all they wanted to do with their life? Extreme logic I will grant you, but logic nonetheless, and it seems like there is a lot of extreme logic taking hold of national politics these days.
But the moral repugnance of this is really on much deeper levels.
We are a nation built on hope and hopelessness to this level is giving up on our national identity. The person that elects to end their own life, regardless of how ill they are, has lost all hope. They have no hope in medicine, in nature, or in themselves. It is that last one that is really troublesome. It means that they feel they lack the resources to face the path to death in front of them. We have failed as a nation at the deepest levels when our citizens do not think they can handle a crisis. That is what we do as Americans – we stare a crisis in the face, we pull on our boots and we get busy.
Imagine if we approached things with less eternal consequences in this manner. What? School is too hard to face – don’t go – we’ll get rid of the truancy laws. It’s just too hard to drive the speed limit? That’s fine for you we’ll remove the legal barriers to speeding. These are trivial matters in comparison to death, but I think they illustrate the point.
But even deeper, to do this is to have no hope for the miraculous. And more, to actively seek to prevent the miraculous from occurring. Look, I don’t care if you think miracles come from God or leprechauns or sheer dumb luck, but all of us know stories of them. People that lived through things they just were not supposed to live through, and did things they just were not supposed to do. But that is just selfish hope in miracles.
What about unselfish miracles? I bet you know a story of someone dying that managed to help someone living. Maybe your own life is over, but rather than being so self-absorbed that you have to end it RIGHT NOW – maybe you need to use the life you have left to help others. From death, life – I can think of no deeper miracle.
Hope is a choice, not a response to circumstances. It is much harder to find hope if you have a godless view of reality, but even the atheist can choose to hope. But such hope needs encouragement from those around a person. A “right-to-die” law is an official sanction of no hope. we can ill afford that.