Jan 17, 2012

Locked in [16/365]

The right to live.
The right to speak your mind.
The right to express yourself freely.

Ever since the dawn of civilization, nations and their citizens have fought and defended these fundamental rights.
While many of us are fortunate to practice these rights at freewill, I read about a Briton who wants the right to die. (Read article)

Suffering from the debilitating 'Locked-in syndrome' after a paralytic stroke seven years ago, he now wants to die. (Read more about Locked-in syndrome here)
While I won't advocate euthanasia (assisted suicide) as an escape from life or illness, I can understand how an illness as debilitating as this would take a toll on both the sufferer and their care-givers.

Death is an escape. And given the times that we live in, quite a welcome break too.
But I like to think that you cannot use death as a bail out package in times of illness, state of poverty, choice of lifestyle or your actions.
When I read the article on Tony Nicklinson, while I could begin to identify how trapped he might be feeling, when he described his life as 'dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable.', I beg to differ. Hundreds of miles away in Afghanistan, Syria and closer home in India, we have millions whose life can fit into that description.
Death is not an option to them. Life is that endless toil and persecution until the 'break'.

I'm reminded of the many people around us who experiences different kinds of the 'Locked-in syndrome'.
For some of us, circumstances may have isolated us from others. Lying in a hospital bed, serving time in prison (for a just cause), or being shut in emotionally, can make us feel that we are experiencing our own 'Locked-in syndrome'. When people begin to use circumstances as a crutch, we must remember how we are the authors of our destiny.

Stephen Hawking, needs no introduction. Afflicted by Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), he once famously described himself as 'lucky'. While he was just being modest, he went on to receive 15 awards across a career spanning three decades.

Besides the path-breaking discoveries in Astrophysics, I think the most important and often the most difficult decision is when a person who is down and out, decides to make the best of it. I'm reminded of how Jesus, fully God yet stuck in a man's body, struggled against the mighty Roman empire... (Read 2 Timothy 2:1-10).

When adversity has often brought out the most remarkable survivalist streaks in humans, I can't see how we should throw in the towel when we hit a minor setback.

While I stop short of making a verdict on the right to die, the right to live and the freedom to pray certainly wins.
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