Do not become the masters of our finitude

One of my last texts generated a lot of reactions, and I thank you for that. We discreetly manage to create a sincere conversation that can help discernment on daunting questions. In “End of life: for an ethics of distress”I was sharing my questions about legislation granting the right to assisted suicide.

Mark writes to me: “For once, I cannot totally agree with Frédéric Boyer’s chronicle. As a 21st century Westernere century, we must absolutely take into account this new but fundamental fact: the omnipotence of medicine and its corollary, the disappearance of “natural death”. How do you imagine yourself dying? It is through what are called advance directives that we should be led to think about it and no one should do without this reflection… Life is a gift, death, in the end, is also a gift. . A gift that we make to our descendants so that they can dispose of life… We may or may not want to legislate on assisted suicide, but we can no longer avoid thinking about our finitude, at the risk that a certain medicine leads us to headlong rush or nonsense. » Mark is right: “We can no longer avoid thinking about our finitude. »Medicine today is capable of prolonging life, but it must not act “in full force”. Neither in one direction (killing) nor in another (relentlessly prolonging life).

Dear Marc, it would also be dangerous to legalize a « right to die », not only because it would be a right of « omnipotence » over life and death, but above all because it would make our end an effect of our calculation, of a programming. You encourage us to indicate beforehand our “advance directives”. No doubt, but I’m not sure that we can all have a clear and precise, and above all definitive, answer to the question “how do you imagine yourself dying? « . To suffer as little as possible, to be able to be accompanied until the end by his family, his loved ones, and with compassion. Should I be more specific? I wondered what my mother would have « anticipated » today in an Ehpad, far from home. I try to find out what she feels, how she can live with this situation. She lives in an indeterminate time, a sort of indefinite expectation. Would she have liked to experience this intimate and social disorientation? Probably not. Would she have preferred to be able to “finish it”? I wouldn’t like to know. I see that she still recognizes me and smiles at me when I’m with her. Personally, I don’t want to impose on my children the respect for such a terrible decision: to get it over with. And I don’t want to depend on any « omnipotence ». Our finitude must remain this mystery which makes each life unique and fragile. Wanting too much to decide our end, and anticipating it, we will unravel this mystery. We decide to give life but is the parallel with death correct? Should we be able to “death”? No, it’s not the same thing. “Death, where is your victory? » asked Saint Paul.

For me, human dignity requires accepting that there is not always an answer to the questions posed to us by the act of living. It happens that we have to experience this undecidability, this decision that is impossible to make, so as not to be forced into a decision that would be determined by programmable and calculable causes. To suspend our finitude on an “anticipated” decision would amount to making us the masters of our finitude. Is it desirable? The undecidable, here, is not indecision, it is to remain open to what happens, out of all power.


Back to top button