This was previously published on New Plateaus.
A difficult, but thought-provoking issue is the case of Englishman, Tony Nicklinson. The 57-year-old suffered a stroke in 2005 and has lost all ability to move except for some facial motion–including his eyes. And therein lies his only freedom, and his wish?
To be able to choose death.
First the technical: Nicklinson is able to communicate via his eyes because of a computer whose cursor can follow his eyes and his blinks. As such, he’s using the medium, Twitter, to reach out to the world. His profile has garnered an impressive 40,000+ followers–which, in case you don’t know, is a lot. You can see it here: https://twitter.com/TonyNicklinson
And I’d suggest you do—even if you’re not into Twitter—because the ability to view these bits and pieces of dialogue coming straight from the horse’s mouth is fascinating. AND, if you do tweet, he seems great about answering questions coming his way, so it’s simple for you communicate with a guy across the ocean who can only blink his eyes!
Unfortunately, technology doesn’t go far enough. While there are an increasing number of ailments that medical technology can solve or improve, there are so many that we’re simply stuck with.
As such, here’s Tony:
I wrote back in May about how technology can solve the world’s problems and eradicate the need for applicable law. My example was the legal interference of selling human organs and how these laws might be moot one day as we’re now cultivating organs artificially. (One doesn’t need a law forbidding selling one’s kidney if we can simply grow one.)
And in the case of Tony Nicklinson, it’s my hope we can find answers to his and other physical handicaps to make life for the sufferers enjoyable. Technology, then, will preempt the desire for this man to want to end his life, reducing the need for law to shape these decisions for us.
Ironically, technology has first taken the opposite role: not as facilitator of a good life, but as a megaphone for Tony to express his desire to end his.
So the debate about suicide—and a physician’s right to assist in it—will continue indefinitely. This is a sad story, but one we shouldn’t shy away from because it allows us the chance to put ourselves in his shoes and be grateful we’re able to stand in ours.
A more detailed run-down of this story can be found here at TheWeek.com.
Read more on The Good Life.
—Photo credit: jurvetson/Flickr