The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

Who is allowed to play God?

He looked so odd. Sitting in his chair in the corner of the room, his face vacant of his usual charismatic smile and the apartment void of that warm laugh. It was the day after Thanksgiving, we had come to celebrate with my grandparents who were fresh out of the hospital from months of treatments for cancer and heart failure. 

Cancer had eaten away everything I loved about him. All that remained was a shell of the human he had been before. It was difficult being in his presence, I didn’t know how to act toward him. What can be said to a man who has less than weeks to live? 

I refused to say goodbye when we left their house, only looked on as my relatives hugged and kissed him farewell. I wanted to vomit, so I turned away and waited outside for everyone else. 

Exactly a week later, my grandmother called and told us the news. He had passed away. I was never given the chance to properly say goodbye. How could I? That man in the corner was not my grandfather, he was a pale, ghost-like skeleton with dull eyes who couldn’t eat his morning oatmeal. He was a stranger, and I wanted to say goodbye to the old Papa who snuck us into the basement and opened a bin of animal cookies without our grandma knowing. Who had a drawer dedicated to sweets near the stove and who always made the best granola. 

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But I was too late. 

I wonder what would have happened if he had chosen to keep going with his radiation treatments. His tenacity certainly superseded the doctors projected time frame by nearly 12 months, yet he still whittled away inevitably. 

He was in a great deal of pain near the end and took medications to alleviate it. Would it have been better to just end the last bit of time with a lethal dose of whatever the doctor recommended? His pain could have ended much sooner, and my mother and ill grandmother wouldn’t have needed to take care of him every day, all day long. 

But what would God think of that?

Who is allowed to play God in times like these? Doctors? Medical professionals? Do families also get a say in when to end their loved one’s life when the patient in question has lost all human function? 

I often believe that God would be disappointed in the human race; for how could we let innocent humans with cancer and other illnesses suffer until the end? Where is the mercy and love and forgiveness in that? 

There are certain gifts and talents bestowed upon individuals who go into the medical field, who save lives every day. They are required to make unfathomable decisions daily about their patients about what the best possible treatment would be, even though we still know so little about diseases. Should we allow doctors to be able to execute certain actions- such as administering lethal medications to patients- in order to save their humanity all in good conscience? That seems reasonable and more humane than letting them writhe in pain, alone, without the ability to properly walk or think clearly.

Yet, what about war and murder and the fact that we, as humans, think we have the right to take away someone’s life in the name of protection or control. 

Again, who is allowed to play God? 

Are select individuals? Everyone? No one? Are we all going to hell because we debate this, or because we take things into our own hands and decide whether or not to put someone down or let them die in agony?

It is a strongly held belief of mine that every individual deserves to live, that life is the most precious of gifts and we shouldn’t strip someone of that. But cancer does the dirty work for us. How is that precious? 

It’s still killing, in my eyes, but can it be justified as a more “civilized” way of doing so? We justify putting dogs down every day due to illness or cancer, so how come we can play God with animals yet are hesitant with humans? 

It’s different, clearly, to take away a fellow human’s life as opposed to an animal. We have free will, thoughts, emotions and are creatures of logic. Animals are not. The proposition is quite complex, and it’s an uncomfortable topic matter for all involved. If humans are permitted to rage war and kill the enemy’s men, subsequently how is putting a sick individual with days to live out of their suffering more or less horrible? It’s still murder. Yet can it be justified? 

Who is allowed to play God here? I am wholly convinced it’s wrong, objectively speaking. Is it morally, as well? 

If my own dog was suffering, I would do everything in my power to not let her die in pain. I would do the same with a loved one, but I could never kill them. It’s not that I refuse to let them die peacefully, I too want to die without hurting. But is the only warranted outcome in situations such as these where a patient would “benefit” from assisted death letting them go?

I don’t agree with it from the standpoint of my own worldview and religious beliefs, however I also don’t agree with allowing someone to suffer for days or weeks just on account of what I think of as “humane” killing. 

From purely a medical perspective, with the legislations we have in place now, if we further alter these bills and continue to advocate for assisted suicide, where will we stand in ten, fifteen, thirty years from now? Instead of allowing only the elderly or terminally ill to partake in this voluntarily, will people be flocking in droves to end their mental suffering and physical pain on account of life being too difficult? 

Life is always difficult, there is never any breathing room or breaks between seasons. It’s difficult, then more difficult, then you just learn how to sustain yourself until you die. I would have taken any chance to end my own suffering if only there was the option. But there wasn’t. And I am more than grateful that I am still alive today. 

My grandfather didn’t want to end his life early, he decided to live life out until his last breath. We will never know how much pain he was in, or if he felt anything at all. Was he content with the end? Or did he wish he had the option to die in a dream-like state? 

Ethics and morals are both similar and yet completely independent of one another at times such as these. Ethically, this situation could have been assisted with MAID. Morally- depending on the morals one holds- it subjectively could have, as well. 

I don’t believe in letting someone or something suffer just for the sake of suffering. Yet nor do I endorse taking someone’s life- either in war or in a medical situation. I simply sympathize with those who choose to take the path that they have decided to. As humans, we all have been given free will, and in America we have the right to liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. If someone derives happiness from dying peacefully (and legally), then who am I to force them to suffer?

 It’s still not fundamentally right, but as long as someone can voluntarily choose to have a cosmetic operation or simply dye their hair neon green, why not be able to choose something as drastic as ending one’s life? Every action result in some accompanying consequence, whether it’s objectively good or not. 

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About the Contributor
Madelyn Cummins, Writer
Writer 2022- Present

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