Men Fear Death Essay, Research Paper
Men fear death, as if unquestionably the greatest evil, and yet no man knows that it may not be the greatest good . (William Mitford). The speaker really nails one of the most highly controversial topics since the modern human walked this earth, what comes with death? Religions usually talk of some sort of an afterlife, be it reincarnation, or a concept of heaven or hell. They see death as a type of rebirth and look highly upon the end of their life on earth. Others see death as the end. Something they would like to prolong for as long as possible. Then others see death as an escape from a harsh existence. A person s value of life and their attitude towards death, whether a positive or negative reaction, plays a major role in both their individual life and in society as a whole.
Walter Scott once said Death the last sleep? No it is the final awakening. This is an example of someone seeing the lighter side of an event that has such a dark aura to many people. Thus comes the field of viewing death as a blessing or a thing to look forward to. The concept of a religion has created a whole culture of death is this or that people. Christians see death as the gateway to reach heaven. Where they will have no wants, everything you ever wanted is there. They also see the process of death as an act of God, for it is said that only God can start a life and only God can take it away. (Euthanasia )The Islamic religion sees it the same way. Other beliefs across the globe have different theories. Hindus say that the spirit undergoes a form of reincarnation. So for many Hindus, death is a welcome event. A chance for them to enter the world anew, and escape the old. For them death truly is an awakening.
For others though, it is an escape for many people, with religious beliefs or not, just want to die. This can be for many reasons. Either their life is going the wrong way; they may have just suffered a tough loss of their own, or for many other reasons. One of the most controversial of these reasons is to cut short a long-term battle with a chronic disease. In today s age with so many diseases, despite our advanced technology, there is not a cure for many illnesses. With sicknesses such as AIDS, ALS, Huntington s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Alzheimer s; many people go through great deals of pain and suffering while battling these ailments. Some see death as their only escape route and will go to great lengths to try and achieve death. This is known as assisted suicide. In our lifetime the man best known for this has been Dr. Jack Kevorkian . This Michigan man has been is the news many times for his roles in the deaths of many people suffering from chronic illness. Many people, including the State of Michigan view him as a murderer, yet others see him as a doctor who is doing a service to people by ending their lives artificially. He has been tried many times for murder yet until recently, was not convicted. At this time, he is battling a sentence of 10-25 years for his role in the death of a man stricken with Lou Gehrig s disease. Is it right to condemn a man for rescuing another from suffering? Apparently this jury thought so when making their decision. And with this comes the arguments associated with euthanasia. Is it something that should be embraced within society or stricken from existence? The pluses and minuses are many and only time will tell what becomes of people like Jack Kevorkian.
Another aspect of assisted suicide is that its just plain cheaper to end it. Medical treatments are very expensive in the gadget filled medical field of today. For someone with an incurable illness such as AIDS, death is a better option pain wise and economically speaking. Yet another positive aspect that can be forged from the event of death is the good the dead body can do for others. With today s medical technology, a dead body can be used in many practical ways. One of the most prevalent in today s world is for organ transplants. Being an organ donor can save many lives from one that has ended and we are thinking of new ways to take advantage of healthy parts of dead bodies everyday. Making life out of something that is lifeless is nothing less than a miracle. Another use for the dead body is simply for medical research. But again, in this utilization, the dead body is being put to a use that will hopefully benefit and save others down the road.
As with most controversial topics in the public mindset, there are two sides to a case. Having already discussed the upsides of death, the downsides of death as viewed by the public are just as plentiful. Many people see death as the end, almost wasting the talent the person could have had or what they could have done. This is the case in the literary work titled Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther. This is a story written by Gunther about his child John Jr. It seems that in society we view death in a young person with an especially sad expression. In the story, the parents of Johnny do whatever they can to support their son in his battle against this brain tumor. While going about getting the best treatment they possible can, a number of ideas that can be associated with death are played out. Johnny s parents are especially careful throughout the story to not let Johnny know what is going on. They felt that they had to shield him from the onset of his death. This can be associated to the fact that they felt that his strong will to live was very important and should be upheld at any cost. Even if it meant basically lying to their son, it still kept his hope. For even minimal amounts of hope in the face of death is just huge. Johnny hoped and dreamed to finish his high school and go on to Harvard to excel in science and make a difference to the world. During his illness he corresponded with the likes of Albert Einstein. Surely Johnny was a bright child and probably could have made an impact on the world around him. But as stated in the book Like a thief, Death took him. (Gunther, 137) And Johnny died at the age of 17. Another example of death within a literary work is A Death in the Family by James Agee. In the beginning of the story, the family is faced with the prospect of Jay s father dying. With these thoughts in her mind, his wife Mary exhibits how we tend to nit-pick through a person s life when they die or they near death. Picking out what they did wrong and what they did right, emotions you had held back before are sometimes finally released. In A Death Mary follows the lead of the Gunther’s and hides the fact of death from her children. A really crushing death, such as you husband as in Mary s case, can cause you to act like you normally would not. The example in this book is when she has first heard the news of her husband s death; she immediately begins to start drinking liquor. This is unlike her; she never drinks like this. But with the death set upon her, she seeks an escape. The way people die also comes up as an issue when death is concerned. People always say, I want to die in my sleep or what not. In Agee s novel, Mary is incessantly curious about if Jay suffered any when he died. She wanted to know if his death was relatively peaceful, or a violent affair. Finally, A Death is a prime example of just how precious life is. Jay only died because of a small flaw on his car and even then, he hit his head just right so the blow turned out to be fatal.
Again comes up the issue of assisted suicide. This, like the broader topic it is under has a plus side and a negative side. The negative side is usually supported by religious groups, Christian and Muslim for the most part. These groups are staunch believers in the concept of God giving you life and God taking it away. They call Euthanasia physician assisted murder. The nation of Islam says, the concept of a life not worthy living does not exist in Islam. (Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide) They do not agree with the fact that some doctor can come along and inject something into you and your dead. Even in cases of extreme human suffering, where you would expect a normal compassionate person to side with the man who is suffering, they say that the suffering is necessary, and part of God s plan. The Lutheran Church says that suffering provides the opportunity for Christian witness and service. (Euthanasia…) And that since Euthanasia involves suicide, it is against God s law. Others simply say that a strong belief in God will help you overcome any amount of extreme suffering. Government wise, euthanasia is not a well-received idea. In most states the efforts have been aimed at making it illegal and punishing those who do it, i.e. Jack Kevorkian. Yet despite the stands made by state governments, as of a 1997 USA Today/CNN Poll, 57% of American s favor legal assisted suicide. Worldwide numbers show up to 80% support in Britain and 76% in Canada.
So is death the last sleep? Or the greatest good? It depends purely on your background. A highly religious Christian man may think it is the greatest thing in the world. Going to heaven, being with God. A Hindu may see it as his escape from his horrible life as a street sweeper and he may return as a king. Yet a more scientific man may say, it s the end of the road. Do what you can before you die. But even without theological backing, death can be a good. For a terminally ill AIDS patient or for the child who needs the heart that another dying person has waiting for them ready to give them the gift of life. Then again, death brings about large amounts of suffering to family members and loved ones. Death can bring an end to what was a great life, or what could have been a great life. The topic of death is truly a two-sided coin that will never clearly land on one side or the other.