19 Dec 2009

A Good Day to Die.

What constitiutes a good death?
It's not a one-size-fits-all, prescriptive answer like many people think.
My RE class (who are studying euthanasia at the moment - the inspiration for this post) have conflicting ideas.
Most of them think dying in your sleep would be 'a good death.' But in Medieval times people used to pray not to die when they were asleep because they thought Satan would take their soul.
The Angry Atheist thinks it would be nice to die 'when you were high. Like a Jamaican.' Despite the shocking racial stereotype there, I don't think I agree.
Alice Arnold says she's going to die from Consumption like a Dickensian heroine, or go mad with love and fall into a river. I like it - but I doubt she's being completely serious.
I know a girl who thinks that it would be nice to die in place of someone you love. Stupid. In the words of Jeremy Bentham (Act Utilitarianist), don't think that a man will ever lift their finger without the prospect of a reward for themselves.
And what do I think?
Well, when they got to me, I wasn't really sure. I only know a few things:
1) The quote "Do not go gentle into that good night/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light," made me cry when I first heard it. That whole poem, a man urging his Father to not slip acceptingly into death really changed my views about the definition of making a good end.
2) There is a passage in The Book Thief where Max Vandenberg watches his dying Uncle lie and wait for death, and he decides that "Death will feel my fist in his face when he captures me." I like that.

That's all I could really say. I think that I want to die brilliantly. I don't want to die acceptingly, I don't want to wait for death, I don't want to give up until I have to.

So maybe I don't want to die in my sleep. I don't think that's a very good death.

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