Treasure Island

Herbert Nehrlich

(04 October 1943 / Germany)

The Morality Of Euthanasia


So does Philosophy then, suffer from
the superficiality of its apparent softness?
Or do you find it harsh, my friend, and cold,
its objectivity a front to trivialise all human feeling.
Thus it is not a question of 'Can man reason? '
nor, 'Can man talk? ' but rather, 'Can man suffer? '”

I suspect that rights are really notions, misconceived
and threatening the happiness of many, if not most.
It is the greatest number that must be pleased
as, after all, we are but slaves of pain and pleasure
shuttling as we do, between the two.

Perhaps this can explain our morbid fascination
with euthanasia, or nicely stated, assisted death.
Could it not be the grand solution for all final illness?
Or is it a false compassion, behind which one can hide
those hidden homicidal impulses, a God complex
all wrapped inside the pages of their own psychopathology.

The taking of a life is but philosophy of murder,
and its attraction grows from seed to deed in minutes,
there is the prospect irresistible, of pain and pleasure
which, in the end will wipe it clean, the slate of morals
to give then to the greatest number, the hope of happiness.

Submitted: Thursday, October 06, 2005

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  • Mary Nagy (10/6/2005 8:32:00 PM)

    This is very moving......'false compassion'...this makes me wonder who is the one that is doing the most suffering. Are we trying to end the patient's suffering or the family's suffering? Very good poem. Sincerely, Mary (Report) Reply

  • Sandra Osborne (10/6/2005 8:21:00 PM)

    Loved the lines:

    as, after all, we are but slaves of pain and pleasure
    shuttling as we do, between the two.

    Well Said. Excellent piece.10++ (Report) Reply

  • Herbert Nehrlich1 (10/6/2005 5:50:00 PM)

    Briefly, Raynette:
    Suicide = An individual's choice.
    Assist, you commit murder.No matter what motivation.
    I wrote a comment in the BMJ, I will send to you if interested.
    The time is approaching where all manner of people, doctors bureaucrats etc. will be deciding who lives and who dies. The one person not being asked is the patient.
    Best
    H (Report) Reply

  • Raynette Eitel (10/6/2005 5:40:00 PM)

    Well Herbert, here I sit in Oregon while the U.S. Supreme Court debates their euthanasia law. I have read your poem three times and can't decide which side of the fence you are on. If I had altzheimers or a late stage of cancer, I would really want that option. I am a coward and choose not to suffer...or not to have my family watch my suffering. Your poem, it seems to me, makes a point for both sides...or am I just wishing?

    Raynette (Report) Reply

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