Life Everlasting

   11 April 2005, early afternoon

In contrast, the wisdom of the right consists of knowing how to take its absolutes just far enough, which is to say never so far as to relinquish the prerogatives of wealth and power. The achievement amounts to an ethical sleight of hand. You work the trick by shifting the domain of moral absolutes to those areas of life where they least apply. You treat the gray areas of human existence as though they were black and white, the better to disguise one’s self-interested smudging of black and white to gray. You erect castles of rectitude on the frontiers of mortality in the hopes that the murder and rapine taking place in the town squares can go on undisturbed. You accept the death of a six-year-old child by aerial bombardment or economic sanctions and defend the life of a six-week-old fetus. Think of it as taking the high road in Lilliput.

The Feburary 2005 issue of Harper’s had a great article on physician assisted suicide and the right to die: Life Everlasting: The religious right and the right to die by Garret Keizer. The article examines the current assisted suicide debate taking place in America today. There is a lot of interesting material, so I would recommend you check the article out. I wasn’t even aware that in addition to Belgium and The Netherlands, Oregon of all places allows for physician assisted suicide. The above quote comes from the article, though I think it stands well on it’s own. I probably like the quote because it echoes my own sentiments when it comes to the right-wing, put down with more eloquence than I can muster. My opinions on the right are no secret, so I’ll leave that point alone. There is no shortage of great quotes in the article:

It is a well-known statistic that with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans consume a quarter of the world’s nonrenewable energy. It is considerably less well-known that within that all-consuming sliver, per capita federal spending on the elderly exceeds the amount spent on children by a ratio of 11 to 1. When I was younger and more romantic I could imagine serving the poor by dying in a revolution. Now it seems as though the most truly revolutionary thing I could do is simply to die.



  1. I think the idea would fly a lot if only the doctors would actually accept it. Most doctors are against the idea.

    I believe the Netherlands have perfected the idea and have had it for a long time.

    I recently heard an ABC Radio interview (I will try to find the transcript for you) that talked specifically about this and the idea of a “killing me softly” pill.

    I don’t know what the Harpers has against the Christian right. Aren’t most dutch christians Roman Catholics?

  2. From

    “The main religions are Catholicism (18% in 1999) and Protestantism (15%). About 63% of the Dutch don’t consider themselves to be members of a church. The part of the country south of the three rivers is (or was) generally Catholic, with the northern part Protestant (mostly of the Dutch Reformed Church). About 5-6% of the population or 900.000 people are Muslim, and 1.3% (200,000) are Hindu.”

Don't be shy, you can comment too!

Some things to keep in mind: You can style comments using Textile. In particular, *text* will get turned into text and _text_ will get turned into text. You can post a link using the command "linktext":link, so something like "google": will get turned in to google. I may erase off-topic comments, or edit poorly formatted comments; I do this very rarely.