The Meaning of Life

**What do you think about this article by Neil Cavuto? **

Things like life and death are deeply personal decisions and I think both sides on this Terri Schiavo (search) case argue it from deeply held and honestly held convictions. So I’m not here to yell, or shout, or demagogue.
No one knows what Terri’s thinking or even “if” she’s thinking. We do know — for now — that she is alive.

Maybe years and years ago, she would have wished she were dead to see herself alive like she is today. We just don’t know… for sure. Her husband says one thing. Her parents say another. And a nation rushes to make out living wills so that their intentions are never in doubt.

My only question is: What, ultimately, is life?

If you were to ask a 20-something year old that when they were 40-something they’d have a debilitating disease that would slowly sap their strength, their ability to walk and see, even think and move and that this disease would only worsen and likely kill them, they might put in writing: kill me first.

But many who deal with such debilitating diseases fight on, live on, carry on and go on. Just like the soldier who could never envision a life without arms or legs, yet somehow adjusts and rues the day he ever thought of ending that life.

“Life” is different things to different people and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to cling to — even while the life we cling to isn’t perfect.

For me, this much is clear: I think our presumed bias should be toward life. Let other countries explore euthanasia and killing someone mercifully. My fear is that as such logic progresses, it isn’t always merciful.

Something is very wrong in a country that can throw you in jail for not giving your dog food and water, but not even care if you do the same to a human being.

Let me offer another perspective.

Let’s say a parent is diagnosed with terminal cancer and you watch over 3 years as the person you love suffers an agonising spiral into a state where they are ravaged by disease and racked by pain. Eventually, they, cantancorous and depressed, but scared of dying, confide in you they have had enough. A few weeks later they contract pneumonia and the doctors consult you to ask if they should treat the patient or let them slip away.

What do you do?

Life is always precious. I love my parents very much and it would hurt to see them suffer.

But whose suffering are we really talking about? My parents or mine? It hurts “me” to see them suffer. I cannot bear to watch. So, I mercifully have them killed to pu me out of my misery? I think not.

Suffering is a part of life. We learn a great deal about God, and about human fraility and therefore our need for God through suffering. We learn about Christ’s Passion through suffering.

What needs to be looked at is our attitude towards suffering. Jesus could have saved Himself from the cross. God could have saved Him. The suffering was a necessary part of the greater good. Our salvation. In our suffering we have the smallest glimpse of what our Savior felt. Nothing we feel could ever compare with His, but it allows us to connect with Him. If we are always putting pain and suffering away from us, we miss out on this opportunity to be closer to God and deepen our relationship.

I find it difficult to understand how we draw a line between prolonging suffering by intervention when the end result is eventual death, and actually ending someone’s life by interupting it- stopping it.

Surely forcing someone to live is as cruel as forcing someone to die?

[quote=FightingFat]I find it difficult to understand how we draw a line between prolonging suffering by intervention when the end result is eventual death, and actually ending someone’s life by interupting it- stopping it.

Surely forcing someone to live is as cruel as forcing someone to die?
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The end result of everyone’s life is death.

Therefore, you take either the view of hope or despair. Hope is the Christian way. We continually hope that God will heal our loved one and we do everything in our power to try. Only after all else has failed, do we concede.

Despair is the option that seems to be more prevalent in our society. Ultimately it starts with the selective valuing of human life. For example, whose life is more valuable, a mother’s or an unborn baby’s? Hope says “both”…despair chooses between the two. Despair is at the root of decisions in favor of euthanasia for the same basic reason: attempting to value human life.

This is anti-Christian, and anti-American. Remember, the Declaration of Independence is a hope-based document. It identified that life is an inalienable right.

Peace.

[quote=FightingFat]Let me offer another perspective.

Let’s say a parent is diagnosed with terminal cancer and you watch over 3 years as the person you love suffers an agonising spiral into a state where they are ravaged by disease and racked by pain. Eventually, they, cantancorous and depressed, but scared of dying, confide in you they have had enough. A few weeks later they contract pneumonia and the doctors consult you to ask if they should treat the patient or let them slip away.

What do you do?
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What do you do? You do the right thing. You provide pain relief in the form of morphine, you provide moral support, you provide comfort, you provide some relief from the pneumonia with antibiotics if called for. Here’s what you don’t do: You don’t make a value judgement on the quality of another person’s life, or lack thereof. You don’t pull the trigger on human life because it’s inconvenient for you to look at them while they’re dying.
Discretionary decisions about who lives and who dies opens the door to madness and insanity. Millions have died at the hands of those who thought they were entitled to make these decisions. Society must put a stop to it before it’s you (and me) they are making a decision about.

[quote=thetemplars] Society must put a stop to it before it’s you (and me) they are making a decision about.
[/quote]

Well, in the situation I outlined, I would want to be let go to God.

I’ve been there, twice, and it’s not as simple as when you are discussing it on an internet forum.

I sympathise very greatly with FF’s experience. I work as a nurse in a Medicine of the Elderly (ie Geriatric) ward. The end of life is part of my daily experience.

My general feeling as a nurse and a Catholic is that the primary responsibility I have is to make people who’s end is approaching as comfortable as possible. A person cannot be comfortable if the are left to die of dehydration so fluids should not ordinarily be withdrawn. Having said which I agreed to this yesterday since a person had a perforated intestine and giving fluids would add immeasurably to their pain without prolonging their lives. Surgery would kill them.

Antibiotics are of a different order from fluid and nutrition. All of us require fluids to sustain life but antibiotics constitute a form of treatment. We are not obliged to accept or to offer treatments if they do not necessarily do a person positive good. Withdrawing fluids will necessarily cause both death and suffering. Witholding antibiotics may not necessarily result in death but if a person with chest infection does die from it it is likely to be a swifter and less painful death than that caused by cancer or some other degenerative disease.

Catholic teaching certainly accepts the possibility that if a person is in extreme pain one can administer high levels of analgesia which might have the effect of killing the person provided that the primary intention is to relieve pain. The whole area is a far from clear cut one in every single case.

There is a Charter for Health Care Workers issued by Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers
[font=Arial][size=2]http://www.wf-f.org/healthcarecharter.html#Anchor-III-3800
It says this

[/font] 119. The right to life is specified in the terminally ill person as "a right to die in total serenity, with human and Christian dignity."229

This cannot be interpreted as the power to kill oneself or to give this power to others, but to experience dying in a human and Christian way and not flee from it “at any cost”. This right is being explicitly expressed by people today in order to safeguard themselves at the point of death against "the use of techniques that run the risk of becoming abusive."230

Contemporary medicine, in fact, has at its disposal methods which artificially delay death, without any real benefit to the patient. It is merely keeping one alive or prolonging life for a time, at the cost of further, severe suffering. This is the so-called “therapeutic tyranny”, which consists "in the use of methods which are particularly exhausting and painful for the patient, condemning him in fact to an artificially prolonged agony."231

This is contrary to the dignity of the dying person and to the moral obligation of accepting death and allowing it at last to take its course. “Death is an inevitable fact of human life”:232 it cannot be uselessly delayed, fleeing from it by every means.233

  1. Aware that he is “neither the lord of life nor the conqueror of death”, the health care worker, in evaluating means, "should make appropriate choices, that is, relate to the patient and be guided by his real condition."234

Here he will apply the principle – already stated – of “appropriate medical treatment”, which can be specified thus: "When inevitable death is imminent, despite the means used, it is lawful in conscience to decide to refuse treatment that would only secure a precarious and painful prolongation of life, but without interrupting the normal treatment due to the patient in similar cases. Hence the doctor need have no concern; it is not as if he had failed to assist the person in danger."235

The administration of food and liquids, even artificially, is part of the normal treatment always due to the patient when this is not burdensome for him: their undue suspension could be real and properly so-called euthanasia.

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My Dad’s Doctor has referred to him as, “A Man With Nine Lives,” I’ve been by his side during his illnesses, i believe he’s far surpassed the “Nine Lives!” My Mom & I didn’t even think he was going to make it a few times. I, nor anyone, can detect the life span of a life!:byzsoc::harp:

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