The sun that bids us rest is waking

Charles Cowling

It’s going to be interesting to track the development of, both, the right to die and its concomitant, the responsibility to die. Old age doesn’t just become physically unendurable, it gets to be economically unaffordable, too.

The darkness is increasingly going to fall at our behest. Choosing the moment will be straightforward enough. Humans live in the future. Our zest for now resides in our expectation of what lies in store for us next. We’ll know when we want to go:  no next, no point. Pass the dose, doctor.

Here’s a new poem by Fleur Adcock in this week’s Spectator:


Where is Dr Shipman when we need him
to ferry us across the fatal stream
and land us gently in Elysium?

Shipman, boatman, ferryman – whatever
the craft he plies to help us cross the river –
we seem to have been waiting here forever.

How did we get the timetable so wrong?
Things are becoming vague, and we’re not strong.
Life was OK, but it went on far too long.

When we’ve forgotten how to keep afloat,
Scoop us up, Doctor, in your kindly boat,
And carry us across the final moat.

2 thoughts on “The sun that bids us rest is waking

  1. Charles Cowling

    First of all, I’ve got to admire Fleur Adcock for using Dr Shipman as her image of the Gay Reaper – you’ve got balls, Ms. Adcock!

    I can only expand on what I said before on this subject. If ‘Society’ – if I ever meet that chap I’m going to tell him it’s HIS turn to die! – decides we all have to live on at any cost just because it can’t bear the thought of mortality, it’s society’s responsibility to find the resources to limit our suffering while we continue past our die-by date for the benefit of its squeamishness, not ours to succumb to economic or moral pressures now that it has noticed its lack of foresight in inventing temporary cures for death, the stupid fool.

    If society is we ourselves, and not some megalomanic godette that hands down edicts about our behaviour, then we should be talking about death and deciding whether we want to be medicated into hyper-old-age, or simply wise about dying on time. Death, where is thy sting? It’s in our unnatural revulsion of our own natural processes, and would be easily disempowered if we stopped feeding it the poison of our ignorance.

    But then, if you’re reading this, you know that.

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling

    “Responsibility to die”? This should only ever be understood as a self-imposed responsibility or ethic. I don’t believe anyone has the right to suggest or impose dying on anyone else. Society certainly doesn’t.

    At the same time, the bill payer (society) certainly has the right to cut back health care budgets, when the money runs out.

    We are not able to stand on our own two feet anymore, not even in these ultra-personal matters. Society deciding when it is responsible for me to die? No way!

    Speaking personally, I will do my damnedest to decide for myself how and when I will die, if there is to be any choice in the matter. I will not expect to be supported in state hospitals, but nor will I tolerate being kept alive against my will by them. If it comes to that, I will take the matter into my own hands – out of my own responsibilty to myself, and not to some abstract social contract.

    Charles Cowling

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