Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Health Dare Reform

http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2009/08/04/dying/index.html

First Joe Biden says it is patriotic to pay taxes. Now, apparently, it is patriotic to die early, or at least before one encumbers the general public by needing medical care beyond a red or blue pill.

The piece if you don't care to sully your computer with reading Salon, discusses how as Americans, we don't accept death, we fight it. Gosh, I never knew this was strictly a U.S.A. type sentiment, but let's just let that slide.

Anne Moore's piece explains that we could as a country, save millions if we would just allow death to occur like we did in the good old days. She fondly remembers all the fun wakes she attended and how healthy they were. In the good old days, those who loved the person or felt obligated, gathered to toast the person's life and reflect on his or her meaning in their lives. This still happens regardless of whether one used tubes and an ICU prior to passing or not, but it happened after death.

Now, we should gather, throw a huge blow out and kiss the relatives at the door of the hospital good bye forever. It sounds so soothing, so reasonable, to go into a cocoon room where everyone could hang out and take pictures and then die.
It would be selfless to die and more sensible, no pain, no mess, just hold a big party to kiss your loved ones good-bye and then off to that good night. The problem is, that's not what happened in her romantic childhood, nor is that what she's advocating here. She romantically attaches what people did after those they loved died, to what people should now do in the present pre-mortum.

I bet the government could encourage such behavior by waving the death taxes that normally come on one's estate upon demise when such heroic selfless action is done with full proper documentation and witnesses.

This is the same psuedo compassion that encourages abortion to be considered merely an unpleasant episode, rather than a grave evil act.

People don't know even when they receive a bad diagnosis about their health when they will die, and as such, all that they do up until that moment, amounts to part of who they are. Their sufferings and difficulties also reveal how well we love as a society.

We have the freedom to face death or not at this moment in our country as we will, with the tenacity and courage to hold on or with the equal quiet grace of endurance unto death. What we should not be in the business of doing as a nation or individuals, is asking people to "hurry it up" out of fear of suffering, nor should we be in the business of telling people who wish to go on, that such actions would be selfish because of cost.

If I were a boomer staring down the beginnings of old age, I'd feel very queasy about this mind set becoming the expected norm. Because I love people who have come before me, I find this way of thinking disturbing. There have been countless nations before this one that used the need to decrease the surplus population as an excuse to kill millions. The problems of a society of how to deal with elderly, the young, the handicapped and the poor have all been "solved" by death in the past. This is just the latest modern version of justification for killing.

So to those who offer this snake oil in the name of all that is good for the country, offering the simplicity of a red or blue pill rather than extended medical care, here are the red and blue pills. If you think it is so good for the country to die before medical care is needed, you go first.

8 comments:

Karen said...

Modern medicine can certainly prolong life in painful ways that defy natural, God-ordanined, death. Is it enough just to have a beating heart and breathing lungs, if the quality of life for the sick person is diminished to the point of utter degradation or for the living who must care for and watch a loved one suffer?

Many other cultures accept death more readily than do most Americans. Death is viewed by other world cultures as part of the fulfillment of the life experience and a natural end. Truly, this what the Catholic perspective teaches too. Interventions that prolong the life of very sick people can be antithetical to the release from pain and suffering that Jesus promised. Accepting the reality that people die, teenagers die, adults die, young people die, old people die, physically fit people die, obese people die, infants and octagenarians die.

Our frantic allegiance to the "live forever" culture of life creates a distance from the truth - that none of us can escape death.

Recent experience tells me that real love comes from the ability to let go.

SherryTex said...

I am not for death defying altering against all odds plugging in everywhere stuff. I understand how the medical establishment, in viewing the human body as a system of checks and ballances can overlook this reality.

I do however think we ought to be very cautious about having the Government determine such issues rather than the individuals involved.

And I would agree that current American thinking can barely tolerate suffering much less death.

We cannot cope as a nation with our children not getting picked for the exclusive teams, or the scraped knees that come from learning how to roller skate --and I've even seen kneepads for toddlers to aid in crawling, but I'm more concerned that this isn't a move to have a more thoughtful perspective towards death as a culture, as much as it is a rush to use death as a cost cutting device. The article mentions that we could save millions in health care expenses.

I agree that it is Catholic to be unafraid of death, and that I know to be so, but we are not to run towards it, to deliberately chose to bring it on.

We are called to be unafraid of suffering as well, but not to deliberately seek it. We are called to aid and comfort others in pain and to understand that suffering and death reveal more about our capacity to live out God's plan and to love, than anything else.

So I agree, none of us escape death, but none of us should be pushed by family or the government or insurance to run into it either. And I admittedly mistrust the government's motives.

Karen said...

I absolutely DO NOT believe that the government would or could dictate the end of someone's life, for cost or other motive. I absolutely DO believe that universal healthcare will benefit the 40 million people currently living without a healthcare safety net. And, yes, I would willingly pay more taxes for the shared social benefit of this access. One woman's dim Orwellian prediction is another woman's bright uptopia.

SherryTex said...

The government will favor cost cutting eventually, if not today. Even if the intentions for now are beneficial, one day, in the name of costs, the push will be to end life rather than to treat illness.

Age, like disability in the womb, will be viewed itself as an inherrient reason to end life. I cannot be the optimist on this, when the culture from which this benefit is created, values perfection over perfect love.

Those who fought against Bush and his decisions to engage in war lamented that no one heard their frustration, no one believed their words even when the words were proven true. I fear, the same will be said of those who oppose this.

I would willing pay for critical care insurance or charity to ensure those who need medical attention, get it, but I do not see this as a cure for those who need care. If past is prologue, the government will favor easy solutions, eliminating rather than facing problems. Every nation that has a form of nationalize health care, has waiting lists and scores of people who do not get the care they need because such care is rationed.

But since we're simply imitating what Europe and the other nations that have such a system have, I don't see how doing what everyone else has done and been unable to pull off well, will be any different here.

As I said, I'm wary of the ethics which govern government.

MightyMom said...

God ordained death.

God denounced suicide.

That's what we're talking about here. SUICIDE.

As a nurse who's helped families through the end stages of thier loved one's life let me tell you. No one knows when a person is going to die. Not the doctors not the nurses not the family.

I've seen the family called in because the death is near according to all signs...only to have the patient sit up and eat breakfast the next day...be discharged...and live ANOTHER 5 years. I.kid.you.not.

I seen people drop from "normal" to dead in 10 minutes, or less.

Only God knows the day we're to die and only God should be in control of that day. God has also given us the ability to heal the body of some afflictions and prolong life. These gifts should not be rejected either as that is an insult to the giver of the gift.

There comes a time to let a loved one go...but never to hasten their departure, again...that's against God's rule.

Karen said...

WE are the government, which is no more and no less a group of citizens elected by other citizens to govern. The "government" is comprised of neighbors, friends, family members ... ordinary people. It is not some dark, foreboding, remote uber-power with ultimate power over the individual life. The "government" does not think or act as a monolith. Strong and strident debate is the hallmark of our muscular democracy. The "government" does not now advocate the end of anyone's life, either pre-born or otherwise. What the government does is protect a right to privacy that, in the case of surgical abortion, allows an individual woman to make her own choice according to her conscience. What each woman chooses should be consistent with her personal belief and moral code. I am not saying that choosing surgical abortion is a good moral choice, but I am saying that this legal option is consistent with a long established Constitutional expectation that the "government" will NOT intersect the discussion between patient and doctor. This established right to privacy is the best example that the government will not dictate end of life issues.

And, yes, I agree that our social culture leans toward a preference for "perfection" that we can attribute to ... you guessed it, a fear of death.

SherryTex said...

But this issue, abortion, is now to be paid for by those who consider it an immoral act.

If you believe abortion is wrong then you understand that
We will pay for innocent souls to be murdered.

Just as people raged against the wars fought under Bush for using tax dollars to bomb foriegn soil because of the death and suffering it wrought, so now will those who oppose abortion be forced to pay for others to have these procedures done.

In the end, we will be answerable for all our actions and inactions. And can we honestly say to God, we could do no more than pay our taxes?

Karen said...

U.S. tax dollars already fund the death of humans. Our tax dollars fund: capital punishment; torture at Guantanamo Bay; weapons that kill and maim civilians, women, and childrem; and war.

Which souls can be spared by effective use of the tax dollar?

I, for one, would like to see universal healthcare as a balance for all the pain caused by these policies.

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