I Want What You Have Lived And Suffered

Among my hobbies these days is attending a bioethics book club every two weeks on O. Carter Snead’s new book What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics. The book is about how the dominant view in our time of persons as expressive individualists contradicts the lived experience of our embodied reality. Snead analyzes why we go astray in our public bioethics when we do not account for the realities of vulnerability and mutual dependence in and throughout our lives.

Most recently the study group finished reading the chapter on Death and Dying. In it, Snead notes: “By far the most common rationales cited for seeking assisted suicide were concerns about ‘losing autonomy’ (92 percent) and being ‘less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable’ (91 percent).”

Since there are many reasons why we can lose autonomy and the ability to engage in activities that make life enjoyable, it is worth scrutinizing these ideas of “freedom” – the loss of which risks rendering life seemingly not worth living.

I am reminded of Russian filmmaker Andrey Tarkovsky’s reflections. In Sculpting in Time, he says: “And the longer I lived in the West the more curious and equivocal freedom seems to me. Freedom to take drugs? To kill? To commit suicide?”

He goes on:

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If You Can Tell A Story

Is it really possible to blog about death in a way that is consistently uplifting and enlivening every single day of the year?

It’s certainly a challenge.

And is it possible to tell edifying stories about the difficult, messy, and painful realities of life with grit and sincerity?

Not only is it possible. It’s vitally necessary.

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“A story’s end changes the meaning of every page.”

Tonight I am remembering this 3-minute video in which Lizz Lovett reflects on facing terminal cancer:

It is a striking thought–that how a person lives out their final days is reflective of what has ultimately been the tenor of that person’s entire life.

What does how you hope to die reveal to others and to you about what you are believing about life all along?

The Night George Orwell Died 71 Years Ago

George Orwell died on January 21, 1950. To commemorate the seventieth anniversary, the Orwell Foundation created a 7-minute short film about the people, events, and items surrounding his final months.

Biographer D.J. Taylor says of Orwell’s death that it is “not wholly a tragic story.” Consider the reasons why it is not only “not wholly tragic” but even, quite simply, a story.

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