on death

In the last post on the subject, I did ask whether death is bad for us. Reactions varied from those who take the Epicurean/ Lucretian position, that death is nothing us or death like the period before our birth has nothing on us. Or take the position of Hariod that there’s no ‘I’ to be decimated by death. There is the further position that in some situations, death is actually a good.

The movie Solace explores this last position. Charles Ambrose has extraordinary powers. He is also a murderer on a mission. He murders are quick and from what we are told, painless. But his victims, he argues are spared extreme pain and suffering. Dr. John, the other psychic, tells him to stop playing god, he says about god’s work, he is unimpressed. In a chance meeting at a restaurant between Dr. John and Ambrose, he, John, asks if Ambrose knows or understands the value of the few hours or days to a dying person? That the prospect of life, even if painful is much preferred to death?

So the question we come to then, is, are there compelling reasons to justify mercy killing?



About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

25 thoughts on “on death

  1. judyt54 says:

    Death is inevitable for all creatures. We are, possibly, the only entities on earth that think about it.
    People react (when they can) to their own approaching death in varying ways–my mother in law knew she was dying, and approached it with an amazing amount of calm and common sense. She was ready for it, and welcomed it.
    I think the term ‘mercy killing’ implies the assassin’s approach and always seems a bit violent. But keeping someone alive because you don’t want to lose them is the height of selfishness. Allowing someone to die in those circumstances is a kindness.
    If someone wants/needs to die because of illness, I have no problem with that. Let them go, help them go. Don’t force them into that untenable position of suicide.

    It’s a personal choice, when possible, and should be.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nan says:

      Judy, your remark — We are, possibly, the only entities on earth that think about it. — was something I’d never really considered, but I believe you’re correct. Any creature with a semblance of intelligence will instinctively avoid death, but humans are the only ones who have the consciousness to contemplate what it means.

      Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      We think about it, plan it and even try to avoid it or sometime to hasten it.
      I think the people who approach it with calmness are fewer than those who dread the prospect of it.


  2. Hariod Brawn says:

    Human animals widely have no objection to so-called ‘mercy killing’ when applied to other species (often deeming it a moral good), yet the soul myth, exceptionalism (denial of our animal nature), and assumed notions of Free Will create a contradiction for us, it seems. Perhaps we might reframe your question, Mak, positing it with respect to all animal life? If not, then we need to justify why differing ethical and moral values (i.e. human constructs) apply uniquely to our own human species.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. judyt54 says:

    A lot depends on your own private belief system, I think, and how you view death as a personal event. At my age I would view it as being ‘not yet, tyvm” but death itself doesn’t scare me, although the biggest unknown (dying) does.
    Any life is sacred. The only life I would consider worthy of death would be something or someone in great pain. I don’t believe in prolonging any life, animal or otherwise, if the only future is a slow agonizing demise.

    People who spend a fortune to keep a suffering beloved pet alive for endless days, boasting how much longer it lived. No. that’s obscene.

    The distraught family keeping a brain dead child or parent alive for another week or month or even year, because they love them too much to let them go. No. That too is obscene.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      I think I agree with you on so many points. I, too, feel it’s not yet time for me to depart. In solace, Ambrose kills those who may not yet be in great pain but that would be inevitable if they lived. Would that be acceptable, killing them before the onset of great suffering?


  4. maryplumbago says:

    I knew of a man whose wife was in a permanent coma in a nursing home on machines and tubes. He insisted on keeping her alive and even bought her a new car and a sewing machine because she use to sew. This went on for 7 years and to my knowledge may still be alive. This to me is absurd and so selfish on his part. To me it’s is all about him and nothing about her. Because he was her husband, he had the final word.
    When I’m ready to die, due to either illness or just have had a long good life and I’m ready to go, I should have that freedom and right, if I so chose.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. maryplumbago says:

    Another thought.
    I read of a battle during the Civil War where some soldiers were shot up badly in a field that the opposition set on fire knowing it would spread and eventually kill these fallen men by burning them to death. The men laying in the field were told by their captain who may have been there too, how to kill themselves by putting their gun in their eye socket and shooting. This was so they wouldn’t die a horrible death by being burned. This would be merciful to me and the choice was still up to the individual.
    A particular soldier couldn’t operate a gun himself due to injury and asked a nearby soldier to kill him because he so feared burning to death and the other man did. I am fine with this, as there was no hope and he couldn’t do it himself.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. renudepride says:

    Everyone is going to consider their reason for a mercy killing justifiable. That’s simply human nature. None of us want to see our loved ones suffer especially when death is the end result anyway. We want the suffering minimized and the ending of life immediate if possible. Naked hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. john zande says:

    The reduction of suffering can never be a bad thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great question and comments. Each situation is different, and it would be inappropriate to make any generalization about “mercy killings.”

    Liked by 2 people

  9. nasimolo says:

    As long as the persons have indicated that thats what they want, in one way or the other. I see most people agree that those who are to be left alive should not insist on keeping alive those who are suffering and want to leave. In certain traditions, grieving relatives/mourners are not allowed close to the body, as it is assumed they make it difficult for the departing soul to ascend due to the attachment.
    Now, on the other hand, what is to be done when the suffering person insists on staying while everyone else feels that time has come?


  10. shelldigger says:

    We just had a cat who had been with us for 18 years euthanized. His health had deteriorated to the point he could barley walk on shakey legs, he seemed to be in a fog or a daze most of the time, his end was near. As painful as it is to do something like this, I know we should have done it sooner.

    In any case of prolonging ones agony and suffering or in a case of certain terminal illness and the end is near, and, the person in this situation decides their own fate, I see no reason not to accomodate them.

    Except for the going to jail part…


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