Depending on one’s perspective, perhaps religious affiliation, life is considered a gift, something over which we had no control.  Our parents, whatever their paradigm at the time, bring us into the world either by choice or accident, but in any case, as said, by providing us the ‘gift’ of life.  Since, by most accounts, a gift is ours, something given us to do with as we please, something conveyed without condition, it logically follows then our lives are ours to do with as we please.  I thought about this for a bit and have come to question the paradigm, the whole notion that ‘our’ lives are actually ours, that we actually ‘own’ our life.  I thought this something worthy of exploration given my proximity to death.

Thinking about life and lives, my life and people’s in general, as I pointed out,  we have no choice with being brought into this world.  However, and for the most part, the presumption is we, each of us in our own right, inherently must endeavor to sustain the life ‘gifted’ us, something underscored by laws against suicide.  Inherently this presents a paradox, a conflict, because if life is indeed a gift, then should we not have the choice to end it whenever we so choose?  The interesting thing here is that the mere thought of ending our life brings ‘accusations’ of mental illness, of depression or some other ill-gotten reason for having such a dark thought.  For most, despite all those who claim many degrees of unhappiness with their lives, their regrets for all the things they should have done but failed to do for any one of a plethora of reasons.  It offers a really baffling paradigm, a situation where we should hold on to something causing unhappiness, or pain for whatever reason.  In all cases the message is we must overcome, be strong, that we must endeavor to persevere.

Many contend the mentally ill incompetent to make such a decision, one arrived at in a start of delusion or perhaps during a lack of clarity, of illogical thinking.  However, what really is clarity, what really is an illusion or in the case of the mentally ill, delusion?  Is it not possible that those in such a state are actually the ones thinking clearly, the ones who are really in touch with the realities of life, of their paradigm and its consequences.  Why do those of us see them as being out of touch, lacking understanding, in many ways, why do we force them to sustain themselves and that which they perceive as great pain?  Why is it that, if we, if they, own their lives, does anyone, society and its laws in particular, have any right to determine their ending their life is wrong?  While I began writing this yesterday and many of the precepts are of my thinking, interestingly I saw an episode of ‘Law and Order’, one of my favorite television shows, that discussed this same topic in the context of assisted suicide, those assisting being on trial for the ‘act’, this morning.

While one may consider the mentally ill in one light, perhaps with a less straightforward logic when it comes to suicide, can we, can society, apply the same logic to the terminally ill?  Many say those afflicted with diseases such as cancer contend the affected individual must ascribe him or herself to the ultimate fight, to focus on survival, to endeavor to persevere, no matter what the conditions or realities of their situation.  I ask, who are these people, who are they to say an afflicted person’s only wish in life is to beat the cancer, a post I often see on my Facebook news feed, that the person must dedicate every waking hour, every ounce of energy to survival?  Who, or what, is the role of society when it comes to an individual’s decision to terminate their life, to commit suicide?  How is it any person’s place, if our life was a gift, given as ours alone, to tell anyone how to live one’s life, and, when or how to end one’s life?

The question is one I’ve considered for several years now and emphasized when considering my fate, and in light of the dearth of maladies, other than the cancer itself, that will consume me and ultimately be that written on my death certificate as my ’cause of death’.  The possibilities are endless, failed kidney’s followed by dialysis, paralysis from bone metastases in my spine, respiratory failure from its spread to my lungs, each causing its own degree of pain, each contributing to my slow demise, each causing me to waste away, perhaps loaded with pain killers, to the point of death; not very appealing in my view.  So then comes the alternatives question, the only true solution other than perseverance in light of the pain, at least at some point, being termination, being suicide.  However, then comes the laws, the judgement, the perception doing so is giving up, of yielding the fight for survival.  For me, as with the mentally ill, I ask, who is anyone, least of all society, to decide how I, or anyone, determines how or when to leave the world? Why, given that which is often argued by many, both religious and otherwise, can anyone deny one of the exercise of free will, of the decision on what to do with one’s body?  Why can the same women who argue abortion is a matter of the woman’s choice, or anyone of that view, feel one’s life is not theirs to take, or keep, their choice?  Many questions here, many perspectives and many things to consider, at least in my view.

Returning to the original thought, the whole paradigm then causes me to wonder, if the life is given us, is it not ours, that we do not really own our life?  The additional question arising is whether we have free will?  The question derives from the idea that if we own our life, if society determines each responsible for our own ‘free will’, would it not follow that it is our lives are ours to do with as we see fit, is it not ours to either sustain or terminate? The question then becomes if this is the case, then why are there, or perhaps more specifically, how can there be, laws against suicide, how can one be held accountable for exercising ‘free will’?  In the end the questions we must all ask ourselves is whether we actually have free will, whether the so-called gift, was really that, whether we really ‘own’ our lives.

Something I thought apropos for this post given it is about who actually owns our lives, and whether we can really say ‘It’s My Life‘, thanks Bon Jovi.

Happy reading, happy thoughts and happy trails.

As always, feel free to comment or you may email me at lifeabstractions@gmail.com

ciao

Lifesabstractions

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