An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of May 31, 2009
issued from the Siskiyou Mountains west of Grants Pass, Oregon, USA

A GOOD USE FOR PHILOSPHERS

I remind you that in mid 2009 I'm approaching age 62. People like myself still enjoy independence, still think clearly, and still can feel that we are contributing to society, friends and family. However, it's clear that our independence, our ability to think and act, and to contribute, are soon to diminish drastically.

Society offers inadequate end-of-life options for people like me. The only options available are to watch our powers and dignity gradually vanish, unless the degeneration process is interrupted by a crisis such as a heart attack, or else we commit suicide, which society makes difficult and messy. Even broaching the subject of ending one's life before it has to end causes people to assume that you are depressed, fearful of something or in some other way mentally or emotionally unbalanced. But, a rainbow of reasons exist for at least thinking about that possibility.

In Oregon and Washington if doctors certify that a person has less than six months to live, and quality of life during those six months will be unbearable, that person can end his or her life legally with assistance.

To feel comfortable growing older in the US I would need something similar, except that instead of a physician certifying my medical qualification for dying with medical assistance, I would ask for a philosopher to certify that I am qualified for dieing when I want, in any unobtrusive way I wish.

That philosopher would certify that I grasp society's generally accepted pros and cons concerning living and dying, and that I recognize ethical and moral frameworks at least as valid as society-in-general's hodgepodge of notions on the matter. The philosopher would take into account how utterly offensive I would find it to lose my powers of thought, the input of my senses, no longer being able to contribute, and the feeling that I no longer fulfill my sacred duty of living lustily and with an intense sense of purpose as "a nerve ending for the self-monitoring Universal Creative Force."

There's another dimension to the discussion, too. For, among the world's most celebrated thinkers on matters of the human condition, it's commonly agreed that the extinction of one's personal identity from the face of the Earth represents no great loss, for it is pure illusion that we ever had an identity separate from that of the Great Unity in the first place.

I'm not depressed, not sick, not angry about anything, not being harassed by the tax or repossession people, and actually may be the most contented person I know. However, with a kindly philosopher's certification that I qualify as someone who before any court of law and the court of public opinion should have the right to quietly, calmly and with dignity exit this life whenever I'm ready, with ceremony or lack of ceremony befitting me, I would feel much better right now as I survey these last years before me. Facebook Icon.