Sunday, September 2, 2012

Slip sliding away

A cousin whose basic views on just about everything that is important are diametrically opposed to mine has been visiting. We get on alright despite our differences; or seem to. (I put it down to my natural tact and charm, but I suspect he puts it down to his saintly forbearance.)

He was a left-wing student radical, something of a leader. Certainly he had devoted followers, and maybe he still does. Despite having mellowed somewhat and worked for years within the burgeoning bureaucracy of the health system, his fundamental convictions and motivating forces remain quite consistent with the convictions and motivations of his younger self.

His latest cause is 'natural death'. Which immediately makes me want to champion the medical specialists who are deemed to be causing unnecessary pain and suffering to their terminally-ill patients by their reluctance to admit defeat. The argument goes that they - aided and abetted by the system built around them - screen out the reality of death (which exposes the ultimate failure of all their efforts and so wounds their professional vanity). Or something like that.

I don't buy the demonization of specialist doctors nor radical critiques of technologized medicine. If physicians and surgeons don't like to tell their patients they are finished, I suspect it is generally out of natural kindness rather than vanity. Sometimes we have to play little games of deception and self-deception to get by. That's okay by me.

Of course it's inappropriate to go to excessive lengths to keep the moribund alive, but I have more faith in the commonsense and judgement of medical professionals than in bureaucrats and activists with ideological and/or religious agendas.

My cursory research on the natural death movement indicates that it is driven by people with such agendas. They want us all to see death as a good and natural part of life.

It may be natural but it's not good. At best it's a nothing.

Don't think about death. I'm with Spinoza on this one. There are better things to think about and talk about, whether one is in rude health - or teetering on the brink (as we all are, in a way, all the time).