I’m convinced the most selfish thing you can do is end your life when life isn’t done with you. There is no standard “autonomy” of self that permits us to give up the treasure and the opportunity of life, to reject the gift of life God breathed into us. You might as well wish you’d never been born. A bitter and grieving George Bailey wished for that in It’s a Wonderful Life, excusable in the throes of personal ruin. But what if someone who is happy and successful wishes to die? Can anything be shown to him of the beauties of life that can change his mind? And how is intentional death any less destructive than the mentally ill person destroying God’s creation by mutilating his body to reach some twisted ideal borne from the mind?
This is a sad article by Ezekiel Emanuel that came out in the Atlantic last year:
Here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.
By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life. After I die, my survivors can have their own memorial service if they want—that is not my business.
There’s a wry saying that he who has the power to destroy something is the one who controls it. Emanuel’s death fantasy is his vain assertion of control over his life, a middle finger to the Creator—by ending it.
I’d like to know what his wife, whom he will leave widowed, and his children, whom he will leave fatherless, because of his view of what it means to no longer be able to “contribute,” think. Abraham became the father of God’s chosen people when he was 100 years old. He too thought his days of contribution were behind him. The lesson is God bestows us life to exercise for His pleasure, not ours. Our minds are just too feeble to account the mission God gives us.
There are many things to live for and to bless others with, and to say all that ends at 75 is worse than moral confusion, it is retardation. The West will wither to a husk and die under such callow pretensions. This is the apotheosis of “if it feels good, do it” ethics. The spiritual exhaustion betokened in this article will not stand up to genuine crisis. If a man doesn’t see the point in living for something, he cannot be entrusted with anything worth dying for. To put it succinctly, we want fewer Ezekiel Emanuels, not more.
Related: “Rich with time.”