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Passions in Poetry

A Duty to Die

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Huan Yi
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0 posted 09-25-2008 07:07 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


“there was "nothing wrong" with people being helped to die for the sake of their loved ones or society.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2  983652/Baroness-Warnock-Dementia-sufferers-may-have-a-duty-to-die.html?source=EMC-new_19092008



Might have some Boomer interest


.
Stephanos
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1 posted 09-25-2008 08:41 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

This is dizzying.  Are you having fun spinning us from one end of the lifespan to the other?

Ron
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2 posted 09-25-2008 09:57 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I couldn't resist.

Retirement

This story is too long for most of our readers, I suspect, and it's little more than an experiment in point-of-view for a creative writing class I was taking, probably around 1994. But it's pertinent, I think.
oceanvu2
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3 posted 09-26-2008 02:22 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

John -- Bizarre article.  The lady is clearly demented.  Probably ought to be put down.  

I think individuals should have the opportunity to choose to avoid prolonged and ultimately pointless suffering, provided that decision is made, through a living will or Durable Power of Attorney. when that indidual is still capable of making such decisions.  No government should have the right to determine who lives or dies on the basis of convenience.

The obvious extention of this is the euthanizing of children who have no possibility of living a socially productive life.  Then euthanizing socially "unfit" individuals, then groups of people who are socially undesireable, then outright state sanctioned genocide.

One doesn't have to be hit over the head with a particularly large hammer to realize all the above has happened and is happening now.  It doesn't make it any less disgusting.

Ron:  Two good tales going on in your piece, and, as the narrator comments self referentially in the piece, they may be a bit tenuously connected.

The social implications and the Orwellian bits ring true.  And, in fact, in this society, we are already seeing cutbacks in Medicare funding, penurious "cost of living" increases in earned Social Security benifits -- assuring that even the elderly and disabled who have earned benefits through work get "poorer" each year -- the "solution" to the costs of mental health care expressed as the closing, in in at least Calafornia and Arizona, to be simply closing the hospitals and putting the patients on the street, etc.

The story is a projection into the future, and, in at least one aspect, is not yet universally true in this society, even though it might come to pass:  Not all families as yet have institutionalized or abandoned their inconvenient elders.  Some people, of course, do make that choice, and some people for many different reasons, find that choice forced upon them, or at least feel that it is.

I tried to find some stats on percentages of people who put their parents in a home as opposed to those who care for their parents at home, and stats that indicate whether there is a trend, and in which direction it is going.  Couldn't pin anything down.  I'm sure such figures exist, and the inconclusive imformation I've found is do to my faulty search.  Someone might come up with a useful link.

Since this was posted in P101 rather than the Alley, I'm not ranting about anything.  Philosophically, I think a humane society --and that the point of society seems to be to enhance our levels of humanity -- can not use euthanization of its weakest members as an economic tool.

If the piece you wrote and John's link suggest we may be "losing" our humanity, I'm not really sure about that.  I will agree that our own society is making some very questionable assements of social priorities.

From a Christian referential perspective, in Mother Theresa's transliteration  "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of the least of these, you neglected to do unto me!"  If indeed, in a monistic, secular approach, we are all of one body, the thought it pretty much the same.

Best, Jimbeaux

[This message has been edited by oceanvu2 (09-26-2008 05:59 PM).]

Grinch
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4 posted 09-26-2008 02:58 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


I listened to a radio interview she took part in yesterday and I found myself agreeing with everything she said.

Huan Yi
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5 posted 09-26-2008 03:12 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


I think with a little effort
you can create a generational sense of guilt
at still being alive and an obligation then to die.
There’s still enough time what with Boomers
just beginning to retire to work on it.  And
it could be made a pleasant experience.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edQNjJZFdLU&feature=related


.


serenity blaze
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6 posted 09-26-2008 03:30 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Just popping in to ask Ron about his story--

um, if yer not gonna finish that, can we switch plates?

oceanvu2
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7 posted 09-26-2008 05:57 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Grinch -- But then, you're so easily swayed.  

John:  We, wife Deb and I, are trying an alternative approach to to the problems of aging poor and in ill health.

Last month, we moved out of public housing (a subdized rent we were entitled to and could afford) and are now sharing a private home with friends of 30 years. This is a life altering commitment, since the possibility of getting back into the public system is nil.

There's a philosophy behind this, which won't necessarily sit well with Libertarians.  We, as I suspect is true for others, are in the process of re-inventing, yet again, the commune, or communal living -- a pooling of resources.

I think this has a chance of working, since we're all quite a bit older than we were in the '60's, and actually have some resources to pool.

This is the set-up:  Our friends, Diana and Warren, own (with a bank, of course) a very nice, very middle class home with 5 bedrooms in the high desert on the fringe of Los Angeles County.

Warren is in the final stage of Alzheimers, rigid in body and detached in mind, requiring 24/7 care.  Deb is now quadriplegic with MS, requiring 24/7 care.

Warren and Diana have a decent retirement income from Warren's career as a police officer and Social Security.  Because of the help required in maintaing his health, even a decent retirement doesn't float the boat.

Deb and I have modest disibility incomes, about $22,000 a year, below, I think, poverty for two people, or darned close.  On the other hand the state of California allots $24,000 a year for in home care-givers, which is less than what it would cost for both of us to be, ah, instituionalized.  It's all win-win.  

Warren is not entitled to the care-giver benefit, because his retirement income is above poverty level.  Warren and Diana are paying for needed full time caregivers out of pocket.  It's a stretch, and in fact, they go deeper into the credit card hole each month.  Such is life.

Now, by combining resources, and with the addition of one more person to this "commune," we all have the potential to live with some degree of security, pizza, and Chinese take-out.

Philosophically, this requires a mind-set shift from what is "mine," (including all of us) to what is "ours," (including all of us.)

I think it takes special, though not unique, people to be able to do this.

In the 80's, Ram Dass attempted to set up a similar communal situation for people with AIDS.  It didn't work because there was no commonality between the people other than a shared disease.  Too much emphasis on individuality as opposed to "group," and too much tension as a result.  (To say nothing of the difficulty of watching people die, and an inability to accept the process with some degree of dispassion.)

Today, there are services in most communities which attempt to match seniors with roommates, sharing the load.  These seem to be only modestly successful -- too much "me" and not enough "us" involved.  This is perfectly understandable.  As "boomers," we got involved in a whole lot of "me-ness" and not too much "us-ness."

I don't know how this one possible alternative living and mind set is going to work out.  It didn't seem to work for kids, there are innumerable instances of it not working out for mid-life adults, but maybe it has a chance among old farts with long time friends.

We're here to help each other out.

Best, Jimbeaux

Added postscript:  Boomers can be a bit different.  I would never have occured to my Father, for example, not to "take care" of his and my Mom's aging parents, regardless of the sacrifices involved.  At the same time, I think the notion of living with others would be entirely outside of his inculcated world view.  And I still love my long gone Dad.
Grinch
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8 posted 09-26-2008 07:12 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
I think individuals should have the opportunity to choose to avoid prolonged and ultimately pointless suffering, provided that decision is made, through a living will or Durable Power of Attorney. when that indidual is still capable of making such decisions. No government should have the right to determine who lives or dies on the basis of convenience.


So do I Jim, and oddly enough so does Baroness Warnock,  please re-read the article with that in mind, or better still read one that keeps her quotes in context instead of trying to twist her words into some sort of manifesto for compulsory culling, this for instance:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/article401956.ece

She’s advocating the right for people to choose, granted she uses blunt and sometimes seemingly cold and clinical language but she’s not advocating anything very different than what you or I already agree on.

All three of us are either demented, easily swayed or in need of putting down, singling out one of us on the strength of a single article seems a little unfair.

Huan Yi
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9 posted 09-26-2008 09:04 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.
"She’s advocating the right for people to choose"

But she's also trying to influence
their choice in favor of suicide
as relieving the burden of their still
living on the state.


(It reminds me a  WWII story where a speaker
made a distinction that while Japanese were
asked if not expected to die for the Emperor
no one was asking Americans to die for President
Roosevelt).
.  
Ron
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10 posted 09-26-2008 09:15 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I don't have a problem with the old, sick, or feeble. Not so long as they're smart and well educated, like Warnock so obviously is.

Indeed, I think the criteria for life should be intelligence. With education tied in there some way?

Anyone with an I.Q. of less than, say, 150, is clearly just a drain on society. No, I'm certainly not suggesting we should start killing all the stupid people in this world. That would be cruel. We should, however, much as Warnock suggests, start instilling a greater sense of duty into our children. If they don't have the intelligence and education to contribute in a meaningful way, they should at least have the decency to make their stay a short one. And we definitely have to stop subsidizing stupidity by providing social doles for the intellectually challenged. No more government assistance. Let them pay for their own limitations. I mean, okay, we have to give the rich and stupid a bit more leeway, I guess, than the poor and stupid? Just so long as it doesn't come out of the pockets of the truly gifted.

Uh, wait a minute.

I just checked some old paperwork and I think an I.Q. of 150 might be a little too optimistic. But definitely anyone less than 142?


Huan Yi
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11 posted 09-26-2008 09:22 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


Ron,


Maybe there could be a test at retirement.
Above a certain mark the door to the right,
below the door to the left.

John


PS  And let's appreciate: we're not talking
going off to green fields with the sun on your face.


.
Grinch
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12 posted 09-26-2008 10:11 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Huan,

If someone reads what she writes, or hears what she says, and decides not to write a living will are they being influenced?

Your statement suggests that there’s a danger that people will blindly, and without  seriously considering the options, listen to Warnock and opt for euthanasia. That they will decide to write a living will based solely on the fact that Warnock points out the level of future suffering.

I think that believing Warnock has such an influence is an untenable notion and that, in fact, pointing out the possible consequences of extreme dementia can‘t be a bad thing  as it allows an informed choice. My mom had a saying that seems fairly apt, she used to say “if someone told you to jump into a fire, would you just do it?” what she was trying to point out was that at the end of the day it was my choice.

People will read what Warnock writes, hear what she says and do exactly what Baroness Warnock is suggesting they do - they’ll make their own mind up.

Ron
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13 posted 09-26-2008 10:30 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

John, I wasn't talking about retirement. The test should be given to five-year-olds. Stupidity shouldn't be tolerated for six decades.

Grinch, the fact that Warnock is entitled to her opinion doesn't make her opinion right. I will be the first to argue for her right to tell people their lives have no meaning. I will also be the first to argue she's horribly wrong in suggesting that only rich parents get to decide whether their child is more trouble than it's worth.

Beware anyone who tries to tell you what your duty is. Such advice is invariably self-serving.


Grinch
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14 posted 09-26-2008 11:10 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Ron,

I nearly argued that stupidity wasn’t fatal, then realised that it very often is.



As far as Warnock goes her ideas regarding wealth and a willingness to pay being a determining factor as to whether a child survives is, as far as I’m concerned, complete twaddle.

I think Warnock, like Dawkins pushing evolution, shoots herself in the foot by using sensationalism and controversy to highlight an issue that needs to be discussed. The title of her article “A duty to die” suggests an imperative that doesn’t sit easily with her insistence that choice is, and should be, the only imperative.

“A duty to consider death” would have been closer to what she said in the radio interview and what I get as the underlying message in the article. I read “Here are the possibilities, think about them, then make your own mind up”.

I heard the possibilities, I thought about it and I decided that, as far as dementia goes, I don’t need to make that choice, at least not today (stupidity is another story). What I did decide was that when it comes to other people I don’t think I have any moral right to deny them that choice.

Stephanos
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15 posted 09-27-2008 09:41 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Jim:
quote:
At the same time, I think the notion of living with others would be entirely outside of his inculcated world view.


What could be wrong about people coming together to help one another and love one another even to the point of holding their belongings in common?  Would your father have objected to such, or are you implying something more ... something remotely akin to wife swapping?  I don't mean to insult or accuse you here, but your language seemed ambiguous yet suggestive.  I could be totally misreading you, and If so I'll be embarrassed.  I suppose the question came because of what you said about your father.  I can't understand how even a conservative mind could oppose a communal situation of brotherly love, while the sacred bonds of marriage are still held as such.

your friend,

Stephen
Stephanos
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16 posted 09-27-2008 09:50 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

The stupid thing about this whole conversation is that people with dementia can't rightly make that decision anyway.  This is just another plug for active Euthanasia, when it all boils down.
oceanvu2
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17 posted 09-28-2008 01:17 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Steven --  Sorry to have been unclear about my Dad.  Many of his generation, like him, and many folks now, were and are strong advocates of self reliance.  The notion of pooling resources, (not wives!)was beyond the scope of there thinking.  That may be why the notion of of of a commune implied communism, and in in part, why counter-culture communes were viewed with distaste and suspicion.

It's possible that one of the reasons most "hippie" communes were short lived, is that they had to much romance of the social and moral sort, and not enough planning beyond getting through the day.  And they were often foredoomed by a lack of the very thing most rejected and most needed.  Money.

It may be more common today to pool resources, the point of mutual funds, investment banks, and insurance policies, to anticipate a greater return or benefit from combined investment and shared risk.  That these strategies have proven more risky than assumed, re the current economic quandry, the bank runs and market collapse of the 20's, may be more due to abuse of investment vehicles than the general notion.

When there is a commonality of purpose, I think the mini-commune still has a chance of success, as you also suggest.  It works in religious communities, in the Hawaiian notion of forming a "hui," in small farm co-ops, and so forth.  

I don't know if other small groups of like minded seniors, without a single charismatic leader, are forming to take care of themselves.  but I'm not suggesting that it is the answer for everybody.  I think it may take an openness to a differnt kind of thinking.  The idea, of course, is far from new, but this particular implimentation by the aging and/or infirm may be somewhat different.  It's just one way of taking care of ourselves while taking care of others.  It is a way of remaining self-reliant while group dependent.  I let that thought hang out there.

Wish us luck.

Grinch:  I should have put a smiley face after my initial comment.  Indeed, I am in agreement with "choice."  It was a snarky remark.  Apologies to anyone offended.

The creation of a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is pretty straightforward, at least in the US.  The forms may be downloaded for free from the Internet, fill in the blanks, and sign them.  It doesn't require an attorney, but the signatures should be notarized.  This is why it is a good idea to complete these instruments while one can still sign things.

Ron:  There seems to be something valid to the "intelligence" business.  It doesn't take genius, but it does take the ability to act with foresight.  The fact relatively few people make even rudimentary plans for the "future" -- on the off hand that we have one -- may be an indication of willful stupidity, since the tools are readily available.

I was watching an episode of "Dirty Jobs" in which the host learned the rudiments of ostrich wrangling.  It is in fact, a tough and dirty job.  I found it impossible, though, not to laugh when ostrich's with a snood covering their beaks and head, became, if not quite passive, at least highly manageable.  Then, of course, it struck me that this is living metaphor.

Are there too many snoods on too many heads?
A review of P101 and The Alley suggests that many merry Pipster's think so.  The differences revolve around the individually percieved nature of the snoods.


Best, Jimbeaux  

[This message has been edited by oceanvu2 (09-28-2008 06:08 PM).]

Huan Yi
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18 posted 09-28-2008 04:28 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


Stephanos

“  The stupid thing about this whole conversation is that people with dementia can't rightly make that decision anyway. “

You have a point.  Yet that helplessness is what makes the possibility possible.
If they were able to stand at the top of the stairs and kill anyone coming up after them,
after a thousand shot down those in favor would think about it; after ten thousand those in favor
would probably give up the idea altogether.


PS

"Are you having fun spinning us from one end of the lifespan to the other?"

Actually, Yes.

Makes things a little less distant and abstract
doesn't it?


John  
.

Grinch
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19 posted 09-28-2008 06:00 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
The stupid thing about this whole conversation is that people with dementia can't rightly make that decision anyway


Why not?

oceanvu2
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20 posted 09-28-2008 06:05 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Grinch -- There is a problem with people with dementia being subject to manipulation.  As are we all.  But some folks have more awareness of it than others.

I don't think it is a stupid discussion.

Best, Jimbeaux
Grinch
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21 posted 09-28-2008 06:35 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
There is a problem with people with dementia being subject to manipulation.



Isn’t that exactly what a living will is designed to avoid?
Huan Yi
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22 posted 09-29-2008 12:23 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.

"Isn’t that exactly what a living will is designed to avoid?"

Are those with dementia capable of
authoring such a thing or would it
be a case of someone else directing
their fingers on the keys?

.



  

Grinch
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23 posted 09-29-2008 02:07 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

Huan,

A person with extreme dementia couldn’t make a legally binding living will, with or without the aid of someone else.

The standard strap line - “I being of sound mind..” that prefaces most peoples expectations in a standard will counts exactly the same for a living will. That’s not to say that sufferers of early stage dementia are automatically excluded, dementia is, after all, a terminal but progressive condition.

Warnock isn’t suggesting that sufferers of extreme dementia are permitted to opt for permanent retirement  via euthanasia - that‘d be just plain stupid, she’s suggesting that people make living wills in case and before the worst happens.

My living will covers dementia and a whole host of other possibilities not because I suffer from any of them, I just want everyone to know what my choice is if and when it comes time for my family to make a difficult and really big decision. That’s what Warnock is advocating.

[This message has been edited by Grinch (09-29-2008 06:42 PM).]

Huan Yi
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24 posted 09-29-2008 06:58 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


“Elderly people suffering from dementia should consider ending their lives because they are a burden on the NHS and their families, according to the influential medical ethics expert Baroness Warnock. . . .

The veteran Government adviser said pensioners in mental decline are "wasting people's lives" because of the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if they are not in pain. "

This seems to about people who are already in mental
decline, not anticipating it.

Simple fact is she has planted the seed.


.

 
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