Not to be a downer, but I've been thinking a lot about death lately. Maybe it's because I'm remembering my dear Aunt Wendy as we approach the 3 year deathiversary. Perhaps it's because my friend just lost her Uncle to lung cancer. Or my brother's recent experience of sitting with a man and his family as he left this world. Or the amount of cancers and surgeries I have seen recently at work.
I have been with quite a few people in their final weeks and days. I often felt like that was where I made a difference. It gave meaning to my work. Death makes us all equal. Pain and suffering is a guarantee as life closes. Love and conflict become magnified as family dynamics take a front seat.
My friend told me that watching her uncle die made her believe that euthanasia should be legal. That no animal would have been allowed to suffer like he had. I would be lying if I said I hadn't felt that way myself in certain situations.
I'm not sure how justice is served for people. It often seems unfair that the kind get sick and leave people who need them while the evil get away with all kinds of garbage and lead a long, healthy life. I may not know how justice is served, but I do believe that it is. I think about the man in Fort Hood who took so many lives and attempted to take his own. Medical intervention has helped him recover, it seems, in order to experience hell on earth. Why didn't we let him go? Then I read the Maclean's article about Demjanjuk, the nazi who was directly or indirectly in the deaths of many. He is being tried in Germany. A frail, old man who is dying of cancer. It struck a chord deep inside of me. It feels so wrong to me. How are we making the world a better place by taking justice into our own hands? Can anyone explain it to me?
I realize I've grown up with pacifist, Mennonite roots and that that plays a role in my thinking about justice. I also realize that total pacifism doesn't seem practical in this messed up world and I'm not sure that it's THE answer. I'm not sure how it's all supposed to work and I have strong mixed feelings about stuff like this. I don't know what the right or wrong action is all the time. Maybe ever.
I just know that death is final. And it's complicated. Painful. And confusing.