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Monday, 16 December 2013

Choice When We Need It The Most

"I don't want people's sympathy - I want people's help"
These words require a context. They were made by Paul Lamb, paralysed in an accident 23 years ago, and forced to live in continual pain. His case is now being heard at the Supreme Court, and he is arguing for his right, and for the right of others to have medical assistance to end their lives when matters become too much to endure. Listening to him being interviewed on Channel 4 news I felt both sadness and anger. More than that, I felt perplexed that we have not managed to find a legal way to make this possible. Surely with the right safeguards in place we can extend dignity and autonomy to those facing years of pain and suffering? Surely we have reached a point where we can simply admit that whilst there will always be a risk of exploitation, there is a greater good to be achieved by passing a law allowing those facing extended suffering to end their lives peacefully and on their terms? The vast majority of carers would never countenance using this as a tool to exploit the vulnerable, and for those that would I argue that the percentage is so small that it should pose no hurdle to the majority whom seek only to offer love and support and mercy at the most difficult time of all. The end of our lives is a hard enough idea to countenance, and many cannot face this reality squarely. Yet surely how we deal with this says something profound about our shared humanity, our commitment to love and kindness, and our willingness to alleviate suffering as much as it is within our power. We would not allow an animal to suffer in the way that some humans have to. We spare them rather than heap indignity upon indignity. Has the time not come to take the brave step and do all that we can to provide end of life choice? We all desire personal dignity and a certain amount of autonomy, and indeed we take these things for granted when the skies are blue and all is plain sailing. Can we not find a means to extend it to those whom need it most? To those presently unable to choose when or how to bring their lives to a dignified end? Our failure to do this breaks my heart, and my sincere hope is that people such as Paul Lamb will be extended the right to make one of the most profound choices a human can make. The time to choose their passing.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Growing Up Is Not Optional

Next time you want to make a point try yelling and hollering at the person you are trying to persuade. Try being verbally abusive, childish, or even needy. If you're really stuck try throwing something, or threaten to harm yourself or others. Perhaps kick the dog, strangle the cat, or maybe leave the gas oven on overnight. Because that’s all going to work, right? Welcome to the world of personal immaturity, a land where nobody ever taught you to act like an adult, or deal with the emotions that come when you don’t get your own way. Welcome to a world where age is no barometer of maturity, where acting like a child is your default, where you always hurl your toys from the pram. Actually, maybe that’s a really dumb idea. Maybe that’s pretty much route one if it was your intent to lose the respect and patience of those around you. It’s the land of eternal youth. When the spoilt child erupts from the adult and seeks to control and coerce. Forgive my sarcasm, but there are days when I only deal with adults that suffer from what I term Peter Pan syndrome. Unable to grow up, or deal with adversity with maturity. Now I'm far from perfect, but what kind of arse thinks that the way to succeed is to shout and scream and stamp their fully grown feet. I mean, what happened to you? Did you skip the part where you learn to deal with and accept the fact that you don’t always get your own way? Did that particular brand of reality prove too taxing? I mean seriously people. Get a grip. Grow up. Join the rest of the adults and learn a coping mechanism or two. As you may have guessed I have just spent a nightshift dealing with a whole gamut of people who never quite made the transition from child to adult. And the barmy thing is that they come from all walks of life. Well to do’s, working class, all the way up through the spine of middle class England. Ok, so there is generally a correlation between intellect and maturity, but the line isn’t as clear as you might think. Oh by the way I’m not preaching. This is more of a world weary rant. And I’m not in the mood to offer advice. Actually, that’s not true. My advice is simply to suck it up, get a grip, and grow a pair. Frankly I don’t give a rat’s scrotum. I don't want to spend my day, or my night wading through the kind of emotional nonsense that you should have left behind long ago. Grow up. Just grow up. Find ways to deal with disappointment and frustration that don’t leave you looking like you just walked out of pre-school. I’d like that ever so much.