Apparently I have been owned by my USA government from the day that I was born and passed out of my mother. From that day onward, it became illegal for me to kill myself. (What is the judge in my trial case going to do if I try to do so and don’t succeed – put me in jail? Ridiculous!)
I understand the judicial background for such a vision in a country largely shaped by Christian values. It started like this: Lot of Christians killed themselves in the early years of Christianity since Heaven was posed as a glorious place. So they wanted to get there in droves and out of the relative misery that they faced on Earth.
Then the church got alarmed since too many members went missing by wanting to find paradise. (It cut down on the numbers, including the financial givers, and ultimate power of the church, you see.) So it became a sin to kill oneself and, eventually, it became against the law in a number of countries following or founded upon Christian doctrine.
However, there were ways around this situation. For example, one early Pope put himself deliberately in danger so that he could be martyred and achieve sainthood. So he purposefully dismissed his guards and took a route to the summer papal palace that involved bandits and Christian haters. (It didn’t work. He survived the trip.)
Never mind that my government allows me, if I am in the military, to murder many other people as happened in the Shock and Awe bombing venture in Iraq.
My government doesn’t seem to care when I am ordered to mass kill versus take my own life or another’s by a lone choice:
I’m just not allowed to murder myself. I’m just not allowed to kill anyone else if I’m a private citizen, and to hell with the kids in other countries, right? They just don’t count.
Yet, I’m getting ahead of myself here. So let’s discuss Willy and Grammy.
Willy was a lovely little dog that my sister had. He was a Shih Tzu.
A Shih Tzu, also known as the Chrysanthemum Dog, is a toy dog breed, weighing 10–19 pounds when fully grown. The exact origins of the breed are unknown, but it is thought to have originated in Tibet and then been developed in China. – Wikipedia
According to my sister, early royal family members in China were allowed to have them and often carried them around in the sleeves of their clothes. Eventually, eunnichs, neutered human males protecting females in the royal family, were allowed to have them as the dogs were considered substitutes for the children that they could never, themselves, have.
Then one day some were smuggled out of China to Europe by sailing ships. Thus, they began to be bred elsewhere while not just limited to royal family and eunnich use.
So after a while, Willy became infirm. Despite being on dog pain medicine, he was in constant pain. He could no longer walk. He couldn’t control his bladder and bowel movements as he dragged himself around the kitchen to which he was eventually confined.
He was not happy. He was obviously in torment. So it was decided that, as a humane act, he would be euthanized. So my sister’s daughter held him as he was gently “put to sleep.”
Now let’s go back in time before Willy’s time on Earth. … Then my grandmother was in a nursing home. She was in her eighties and had broken a hip while stepping off a curb when her shoe heel broke off, which caused her to fall so as to ruin her hip.
Now we tried to get her help to stay in her home for a while. Yet the people, who were willing to do it while Grandma was wheelchair bound were a little bit dysfunctional.
One always wore a cowgirl hat indoors and shared about her sexual exploits with Grammy. Another one only wanted to watch television all day long. Besides, Gram was deteriorating physically and mentally.
So she wound up in a nursing home while in her eighties. It was no luxury joint – just bare basics and one day when I was visiting her from out of state (since she was in NY and I – in MA, USA), she asked me to kill her as she couldn’t take much more of her life as currently configured.
We both started to cry while I held her hand and I told her that I couldn’t since I’d be thrown in prison. Besides, I wouldn’t know the way to do it anyway.
Now, she lived to be two months short of a hundred years. The last ten of them (trust me in this opinion without my going into detail) were pure hell. They also cost the USA government a great deal of money since she had to go onto Medicaid whereas her care cost around $60-70 thousand dollars per year for the nursing home combined with medical care.
She was not happy. In later years she was in extreme duress and was actually out of her mind while extremely in pain physically minute after minute, hour after hour and day after day during year after year. How sadistic!
Now you compare her to Willy, who was allowed to be treated with compassion rather than to suffer year after year due to some religious dictate that implies that God should decide when you die, and originally based on suicidal Christians. Such mental deficiency to take such a view!
I’ve read that in Holland that a person can get three separate medical opinions from psychiatrists as to his or her mental soundness regarding desire for suicide. If all three concur that there is soundness, then each gives an identical looking pill to the person. One is a sleeping pill. One is a placebo and a third is a lethal medicine that kills while the patient is asleep.
Rightfully, no doctor knows which pill that he holds to give to the patient. Otherwise there could be ugly personal repercussions (perhaps legal ones at some point), including psychological ones.
How kind, though, it seems to let people to be the masters of their own fates. It surely is better than forcing them to endure the extreme agony that my grandmother endured for years on end and absolutely didn’t want.
In the end, I reject that my government owns me and my body. I reject that I am allowed to kill only when following government sanctions. Neither position is acceptable to me. … I own myself and my actions. I am not property.
I’m angry. Can you see it? It’s because nobody has any right to try to direct me into morally unconscionable positions, including my government.
I’m not chattel. I’m not a personal possession, nor any sort of slave by anyone, but imperatively not by my government since I’m ruled by moral dictates, compassion, desire to protect the world. Ergo, I reject some male dominated society that makes insane rules based on a long line of historical madness regarding suicide being seen to be bad for Christianity.
No, I’m definitely not owned. Just try to get me to tow the line against my ethical underpinnings!
Sally Dugman is a writer in MA, USA.