The common human fear of death is irrational. It is perfectly understandable to fear the process of dying; it can be, and often is, long, humiliating, unpleasant and painful; although it doesn't need to be.
To the individual who dies, death is the loosing of consciousness. Sleep is also the loosing of consciousness, but it is temporary. Why should we fear the one and not the other? We were, in a sense, dead before we were born; what reason do we have to fear re-entering that state?
In our culture to end your own life is often considered 'not the right thing to do'. Why should that be so? If your life has become a burden to you – and to others – why should you not be able to end it?
"The only part of the conduct of any one, for which [a citizen] is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."
Is it the sheepish nature of people – the tendency to not do anything that others rarely, if ever, do – that makes us all 'live until we die'? We choose what we do in life, we should be able, if we wish, to choose the manner and timing of our deaths. Instead, most of us just go on living, with our health declining and, quite probably, our mental acuity decreasing, when we might make a conscious decision to end our life when it suited us.
The people who are left behind may suffer from a death, obviously. The loss of a spouse, a sibling, mother, father, son or daughter can be devastating; that is another story. On this page I am thinking about one's own death, and the unnecessary and baseless fear of that death.
I wonder whether the fear of death is mostly confined to the people of those cultures that were based on Judaism, Christianity and Islam; the religions that brought the world the sick and intentionally terrifying concept of eternal torture in Hell? Do Hindus and Buddhists fear death? I don't know. (I do know that for Balinese Hindus funerals are an occasion for celebration.)
For those who have managed to avoid or escape the religion delusion, there
is nothing to fear in death.
Why might one want to die?
Climate change is damaging the world already, it will only get far worse in coming years, and there are many other insults to our shared environment. At the time of writing I am 73; I will not live to see the worst of the damage, but my children and grandchildren (everyones children and grandchildren) will have to live on a greatly damaged planet.
Yet many of my fellow humans are complicit in the destruction of the Earth that I love, and the great majority of the remainder are too apathetic to bother making an effort to stop the damage, or too selfish to want to try. As a single example, shortly before I wrote this section there was an election in Australia in which climate change was the greatest single issue, yet when it came to the day the majority of voters put their own selfish short-term interests before the health of the planet and voted for the party that most refuses to take environmental matters seriously.
A significant number (not enough) of people are willing to do unpaid work for the improvement of their community, but those same people are usually unwilling to lift a finger for the future of the planet as a whole.
Another example of selfishness and the unwillingness to act for the greater good is the fact that only 3% of Australians donate blood. The process is no more than a minor inconvenience and takes about an hour, the blood (or plasma or platelets) may well save someone's life, yet only one person in 33 does it (many people for one reason or another can't donate blood, but the great majority can).
I have seen similar selfishness in my own community when many people opposed the construction of a local wind farm. The wind farm would be good for the community, the region, the state, the nation and the planet, yet many opposed it for selfish reasons such as they "didn't want to have to see nearby wind turbines" or occasionally hear them.
How can one respect such beings? Living among them is becoming an increasingly unattractive prospect.
One of the world's greatest problems is that there are too many people. They are overloading all the world's environmental resources. A decision of mine could reduce that load on the planet.
My health is gradually declining, I am often in some pain, in a number of ways my body is not working as it should or used to.
The time is approaching when death will be a more attractive option for me than continuing to live.
But the majority recognise animals should not be allowed to die long and painful deaths, they should be euthanised if they cannot be cured. A significant part of the work of veterinarians is providing animals with painless deaths. In fact allowing and animal to die slowly and in pain is considered a crime.
Yet a great many people want to deny a humane death to their fellow humans!
Related external pages...
Exit International is a leading non-profit, voluntary assisted dying organisation that was founded in 1997 by Dr Philip Nitschke.
Euthanasia; some thoughts on euthanasia, assisted suicide and suicide
What would make a good memorial to a loved one who has died?
Milestones in the development of human society. The recognition that one has a right to die when and how one chooses is a milestone that we are just beginning to reach.
Contribution; if I could no longer contribute to the community in which I live I'm not at all sure that I would want to go on living.
Killing in peace and war; killing someone is normally a terrible crime. Are we to accept that killing on our government's say-so is justified?