When death is a mercy

Assisted suicide, euthanasia and other end-of-life strategies continue to dominate many present day discussions amongst ethicists, religious ideologues, spirtual folk, and media panels, and daily life is punctuated by sad news stories in which an end came to a life by way of a deep and truly caring friend, or other discrete event.

Proponents point to the science and the advances in medicine as the sine qua non that predisposes the decision when life should end; that it should be at a pragmatic technical point. That it should end only when no other technical solution is now or likely to be available. Technological innovation has made almost indefinite support of the corpus possible, maybe even inevitable.

Clearly, none of the proponents of technical immortality have ever passed a kidney stone.

Those who have will tell you there is a pain so indescribable (no words can express), so all-consuming (no thought can escape), so soul-devouring ( no penitence will relieve) that death would, truly, be a mercy against the tidal wave of agony that comes from a grain of sand. There is a place where a soul descends that is torment without end. Measured against a life of such torment, death is, indeed, a mercy.

Now, this isn’t about euthanizing kidney stone sufferers (although there can be moments where the choice would be dead, easy). But there are afflictions, cancers especially, where there is little to no relief available from unceasing, unrelenting pain. Modern technology renders the corpus insensible, and in doing so renders the soul entombed. Kidney stone sufferers have had a taste of where that place is. No one should have to live in that place, most especially if their own expressed desire is to escape it. Few will chose to dwell there, and to provide a door through which to pass with dignity is a kinder mercy than than can be found in the nether world of insensibility.

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