By Dave Andrusko
I have read and re-read the following passage from Kevin Yuill over and over again. He is addressing not only the lure, the seduction, of “assisted dying”; not only the threat that this poses to people with physical and intellectual disabilities; but also the stake the rest of us have in people not “facilitating” their own deaths.
Quite a paragraph.
It is existential pain, a fear of what the future will bring to an already uncertain existence, which drives people – disabled and non-disabled – to suicide. But if someone speaks of their desire to end it all, our common, human response must be to remind them that, even if they do not value their own life, and even if they see no hope in the future, we do. We must remind them that no situation is truly hopeless – other than, of course, death.
“Even if they do not value their own life”…
“Even if they see no hope in the future”…
We value their lives…because
Because they simply are. None of us needs to meet an arbitrary standard of acceptability.
Because their death diminishes me. We are in this together.
Because their lives are of infinite value. Of all the points of departure, no fork in the road is more decisive than whether or not you believe each one of is irreplaceable.
We see hope in their futures…because
Because of the disability rights community has issued the clarion call warning that they must not allow others to rob them of hope.
Because, as the disability rights community reminds us repeatedly, all of us are one accident away from living with a disability. Knowing that reminds me of the importance of offering whatever assistance we can. The more of us extend a hand of support, the more reason there is for hope.
Because in the face of a well-financed campaign to change laws, a diverse coalition of disability rights organizations, medical associations, nurses’ groups, community leaders, right to life groups, hospice workers, and faith-based organizations has emerged to fight assisted suicide/”assisted dying.”
One last thought.
A family I have known for going on 20 years lost their patriarch this week. Over the last decade of his life he experienced ever-increasing signs of dementia.
If courage is grace under fire, JW was the most courageous man I have ever met.
His loving wife brought him everywhere, treated him with dignity and respect, and in so doing brought out the very best in the rest of us.
Rest in peace, JW.