Archive for May, 2005

Anti Hero Anakin Skywalker

May 24, 2005

So You Want to Be a Villain?
By Greg Stewart

Well, it has been a curious past couple of days, as I have watched the hype of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith reach a fever pitch. The anticipation of Anakin Skywalker turning to the “dark side” has captured the imagination of citizenry; or, at the least in this humble “geek’s opinion” the popular movement of the moment. To see the corruption of an individual transfixes us as we watch the choices people make for their own undoing and become the villain.

The villain is fascinated with a single goal: the unyielding conformity of the society has to be undone, so they can impose their own sense of orthodoxy. Therefore, the villain in the great tragedies are filled with the complexities that are reflected from their own culture; the “heroic” villain—the anti-hero—challenges the society’s normative value. In others words, those traditional values, those items which are besieged by the everyday authority and accepted as governance by the culture-at-large, are at times transformed by the anti-hero.

The “heroic” villain challenges the ideals, the principals, and the morals, which are confined within the status quo of the society. Needless to say, the villain’s complexities are reliant on the emotional picture of the culture. In American-Western culture (but especially in America) we want the villain to be simplistic and be able to escape from the difficulties of the world. We do not want to be confronted with the grays; we just the black and white.

But our most memorable mythic heroes and villains as Joseph Campbell,might say, depicted through our own duality and are those which mirrors the current stirrings of the culture. In ancient Greece, these villains and heroes were depicted through mythologies of Hercules, Zeus, and Apollo to name a few. In the yesteryear of the 20th century, the “mythologies” of the modern age was comic books and science fiction novels that captured the West’s imagination until these genres shifted and took hold in the media of cinema and television. The heroes and myths from ancient Greece were transformed by America popular culture and became Superman, Batman, and eventually Spiderman. These are the “big three,” but before them, were the folktales and dime novels of the west that were larger-than-life—Paul Bunyan, Davey Crockett, John Henry, Wild Bill Hitchcock, and Horatio Alger stories. These mythical figures inspired us to transform a continent of “hunter-gatherers” to an “intensive agriculture” mecca. In essence, instead of being lost in the woods and plains searching for food, we transformed our country into farm land and fed a nation.

But before the big three aided us in the transformation of an agrarian culture to a modern technological world there were our folk heroes of the 19th century and prior to them were the legends of our founding fathers. These mythic heroes of the 19th century helped us shift the America culture forward with the railroad, the telegraph, the telephone, the electric light bulb, and the establishment of a system wide clock system. Then, in the early part of the 20th century, when modernity was enveloping the face of America, our agrarian mythic heroes were failing us by falling behind. And, the promise of Horatio Alger was betraying us with the opulent imagery of wealth, which once promised the rise of an individual from nothingness of poverty to “establishment” of something-ness of wealth. He joined the exclusivity of a new aristocracy that our forefathers had once battled against. As a consequence, a new mythic hero and villain were born and a new definition of good and evil was transcended into the age of modernity. The big three were born within the first three generations of the century. Superman, being the first, and Batman being the second, each represented the many complexities of the new modern word. Superman carried the torch of liberty, justice, and individuality of the American spirit. But he also illustrated the leaving behind of the rural community, and moving into modernization of urban living.

The farm boy Clark Kent with the embolden vision of moving toward a better world within the city of Metropolis inspired young America to change the face of their environs, while his alter-ego Superman was capable of instilling the principals of American ethos. He represented the beginning of America’s schizophrenia, the cognitive dissonance that laid in wait, would be played out in comic strips, movie serials, and television—as did Batman’s anti-heroic feats. Eventually, Spiderman became the culmination of the two heroes resolve. The torn hero, whose identity must be hidden from those he loves and protects, to been seen as less than a hero by the authorities—a vigilante—but seen as the common man’s avenger, ever striving for justice. Superman in his earliest form stood for downtrodden, bringing “justice” to all. He rose from the ashes of his planet, a foreigner, an immigrant from another world, arriving to stagnation of the depression to reassert the values that seem to get loss in the “roaring twenties,” and the perceived inequities of 1930s wealth of oppression. In Superman form, Clark Kent, was “ubbermensch,” the superior man, if you will who could do the impossible — which included flying. But he also in this form represented the age of the wealthy (think JP Morgan, Carnegie, and Rockefeller), the ability to solve all with his extraordinary powers and be as powerful, if not more so than the men with money. He would even protect the opulence of the rich, as long they aided the “right side” of the law, and gave comfort to the impoverished. On the other hand, when he became the mild manner geek and naïve newspaper reporter, Clark Kent illustrated America’s lack of self-confidence, insufferably weak, who numbered greatly, but were powerless to challenge the “establishment” of powerful men (think the dustbowl farmers, and contract migrant workers, and hardship coal miners).

Meanwhile, Batman symbolized the urban angst. The invaders of criminal organization destroying the dreams of the naïve young farm boys and girls and corrupting the values of the people; he replaced the authority of ineptness and worked outside of the establishment to be bring his sense of justice to the non-conforming world of his vision of American jurisprudence.

He, Batman, fostered our desire to seek revenge, or at the least, our piece of flesh who had corrupted and oppressed the common man’s vision of the American way. He spurned the compassionless acts of evil, of individual’s, companies’, and corrupted governments’. These desires by both the heroes were brought up through turmoil of wars—the Great War and the Good War—as well as the devastation of hopelessness seeped into the country’s consciousness during the greatest economic downturn of the century—the Great Depression.

Admittedly, Batman’s alter-ego Bruce Wayne felt the blow of being orphaned; leading to his own darkness of spirit. In a sense, he represented America’s isolation from the rest of the globe during the hardship of the 1930s. But it is this self-infliction of guilt that we, as a nation, were not doing more. As it is with Bruce Wayne’s guilt that he could not do more for his parents, when he was a child; and now, as Bruce Wayne, the billionaire, to solve the tragedies of humanity, he dresses up like a bat; to seek his solace that he, at the least, has resolved to find vengeance for those cannot speak and cannot do for themselves.

But it is the culmination of Superman and Batman mirroring popular culture’s attitudes during the wars and minor skirmishes that assisted the American troops upon their “victorious” return from overseas, bearing the birth of a new generation of myths. A generation of imagination resulting in the myth of Spiderman (along with turmoil of the 1960s) being founded in the transcendence of the power within the common man, and the greatness of individuality, which was partially supplied by the defeat of the “axis powers,” and transformed society’s embracement of its own empowerment. The Baby Boomers, the children of the victorious veterans, would face the tribulations of ambiguity of the Cold War, communism, and the rebirth of “liberty for all” in regards to minorities. How could they face their own souls, knowing that, the cause of The Good War had been drenched in blood for all “colored” men: the yellows, the browns, whites and blacks alike had bled and sacrificed the same? They all had fought a common enemy as well as defended a “righteous” ideology; the American way of life. The belief in that true liberty can be only obtained, only if everyone has the access to them equally. This belief and their sacrifices became instilled in their children, the Baby Boomers, and the birth of its own myth, which gave rise to America’s symbol of “cognitive dissonance”—Spiderman.

America’s inner id had been divided. The duality from within, the dark and light clashing in the form of a hero, became the country’s mantra. By embracing its own frailty and selflessness, but also having the power to instill and impose its own views on the planet, Americans new image of the impatient youth was being fostered and transmitted to the world.

Americans became aware and understood they had great power, but would not understand its responsibility to how wield it until the Cuban Missile crisis, hence, the birth of Spiderman. He would acquire his powers through the age of modernity, science, and discover his true impact power and consciousness only after his failure to recognize his uncle’s sage advice: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

And, with this message of wisdom, some of us as well as Spiderman were able to transition this responsibility into adulthood. While others felt enflamed by their passions and championed their own selfish idealism by thinking that, society must conform to their will. Thus, failing to navigate the tempests of storms that youthful transgressions allow one to learn—and chose a path of darkness; or, the lessons that are transmuted in our consciousness in youth.

These epiphanies, lessons, which we should have realized in adolescence, are our guides in adulthood. But our emotions drive the imagination of darkness. By becoming the villain, we do not have to face the rules of conformity—we rebel. We get to make our own rules of conformity. At the least, in our villainy of the imagination, we can become the anti-hero. At our worse, we transition into the physical world and become the pedophiles, rapists, and murderers.

It is therefore not surprising, popular culture’s embracing of penultimate villain and anti-hero—Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker. So, when Star Wars (the original trilogies) and later the prequels shone us the light of universal truths of our own duality from within, and allows us to express our fears, regrets, and choices through fantasy. Anakin Skywalker, fatherless in his formative years, therefore rudderless, must find his own path of conformity. Although he received the training of the light and the guidance of its elder, the truth of democracy and freedom, however, is his allowance to choose poorly regarding his destiny. Thus, the folly of Anakin Skywalker is his allowance to be consumed by his passion and become Darth Vader. His destruction and his salvation, and the chance of redemption come from his son’s tribulations, while discovering his compassion.

So the best villains are the one’s who fight the duality from within, and challenge us to look within ourselves; and, through the magic of books, movies, and television with the assistance of a writer, director, and producer we can embrace our own duality and identity. So, by being the responsible adult and transforming the world of passion into com-passion (Campbell) around us, through our friends, family, and children we shape the future of the world. So I say to Mr. Lucas—good job ours and yours mythology is now complete.

Notes

My inspiration for this essay was Douglas Brown article, of the Denver Post, “Villains like Vader Captivate Us by Channeling Our Darker Sides,” and Joanne Ostrow’s article, of the Denver Post, “How Did Comics Turn So Dark?” Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyer’s Power of Myth, and Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces were also the sources of this diatribe. And lastly, but not the least, Professor J. David Eller, Metropolitan State of Colorado, and my friend and fellow “geek,” Brian for their clarity and vision of popular culture.

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The Right Choice

May 15, 2005

It is

Good Day

To

Die

(The Euthanasia Solution)

By Greg Stewart
(Bob O’Connor)

To define a meaning of a word means to clarify, to understand, to give definition to, direction or purpose to an item, an object, or an idea. However, the subjective cultural meaning of words tells us what the word means or represents to a society. The following terms are by no means strictly by the book definitions, but meant to capture the spirit of the word.

Definitions:

Euthanasia – is defined as an easy death or means of inducing one whether by oneself or with the aid of another – to die well. It is also the act or practice of painlessly putting to death a persons’ suffering from an incurable condition or condition, and or diseases.

Passive – is defined as not acting [a state of non-action] but acted upon subject to, or produced by an external agency. In terms of this paper, not to hinder the death of a person, by not taking additional or extraordinary measures to prevent it.

Active – is characterized by acting rather than contemplation or through speculation. In other words, active means to assist, to help, to aid in the person’s liberation from life – death.

Value – in its archaic form means to show concern for or appreciation that intrinsically important to others or oneself.

Death – means the ending of all vital physiological functions, the cessation of life without recovery.

Dignity – means the quality or state of one’s worth or lifestyle that brings intrinsic value to one’s self-esteem, character and perception.

Quality – means the degree of excellence, a standard, grade, or caliber to one’s expectation of oneself, friends, and or peers.

Competent – means to be possessed of, or characterized by marked or sufficient aptitude, skill, strength or knowledge.

Introduction (revised)

This past spring the country’s perspective on the dignity of death was heavenly debated. The right to choose when to die, or who has the “authority” and the qualification to make such choice was also highly examined with the neo and the religious right in the control of the Republican Party; bringing a new level of emotion and shrill to the discussion. I originally wrote this paper for school in the spring of 2003, at that time for my English research class, although I did not address the Terry Schiavo directly at the time, my opinion remain the same, that the individual should remain in control of their own body. Furthermore, when unable to make the choice, the direct next of kin, should have the “authority.” In the Terry Schiavo case, that was the husband. Despite of all the recriminations and the demonizing of Michael Schiavo, and the other choices made by different individuals, it was his choice to make, not the state, not the governor’s, and especially not the US Congress’. Our very foundation was coming under the attack of the hysterical majority, which is why this country was established as a republic not majority rule mob mentality. Our founders felt, it was necessary, and pragmatic to protect the minority opinion and dissent. If they had not, this country would not be, what it is today. In fact, this country may have faltered coming out of the gate, we might have ended up like France, or Germany for that matter. So I offer my original opine, unaltered and with original introduction.

Introduction (original)

The undignified death, dying poorly, is the fear of those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The ability to have a good death has become important to the American public because the extraordinary advances in medicine has doubled the life expectancy of the average citizen to nearly 80 years. However, the final days of death can be long and arduous. In fact, those with terminal illnesses experience what they perceive as an undignified death because of the laws and ethics of the medical establishment. Therefore, these establishments and, for the most part, this country have been rooted to the past; death not natural is either suicide or murder. Nonetheless, death in this country is viewed as an ending, not as a celebration of life or a passing to a better place.

Thesis Statement

Simply, that all competent individuals have an inalienable right to chose how they live or die as long as their choice does not do physical harm to another individual. Moreover, every individual should be able to choose how or when they die whether it is done passively or assisted actively by a physician.

Clarification of Freedom – Government Opposition

It is in the “public interest” that the government defines an individual’s freedom when the state deems it necessary to ensure the safety and the trust of its people. Additionally, considered by the government that the whole of the citizenry is greater than the individual’s right and the government has the duty to establish community guidelines when it comes to its citizen’s health and welfare. Therefore, the state may supercede the right of the individual and decides what is best, not the person. One example of this is a person does not have the right to scream fire in a crowded theater, when there is not one – this is the suppression of free speech. Thus, although a person may be in sound mind and spirit it is the duty of state to infringe on the judgement of the person. Therefore, the government can decide what inalienable rights or what rights are endowed, fundamentally, to a person. Namely, an individual can not enlist the assistance of another to aid early termination (suicide) of oneself, although that person may be terminally ill, and harming no other.

To aid in a suicide, in the view of the government, is considered manslaughter not murder, because the intent of the death was free from malice. According to Eric Sanders, in his article Kevin Sampson versus State of Alaska, the Alaskan Supreme Court concluded that “the prohibition against physician-assisted suicide does not violate the liberty, privacy, or the equal protection” clause of their Constitution. In other words, the state has the right to decide about the health and care of its citizenry.
Furthermore, it is the view of the government that the issue regarding self-termination can not be separated from the person. Therefore, the person’s emotions to make a rational decision are erratic at best. Moreover, the government has opined the pitfalls of allowing physician to assist in dispensing death. Again, according to Eric Sanders article detailed some of the government’s concerns for the community:

• Undiagnosed or untreated mental illness;
• Improperly managed physical symptoms;
• Insufficient attention to the suffering and fears of the dying;
• Vulnerability of socially marginalized groups;
• Devaluation of the lives of the disabled;
• Sense of obligation;
• Patient deference to physician recommendations;
• Increasing financial incentives to limit care;
• Arbitrariness of proposed limits; and
• Impossibility of developing effective regulation.

Additionally, the governing body policy of the Code of Medical Ethics states that “physician assisted suicide is ‘fundamentally incompatible’ with the [doctor] role as healer (Sanders).” In whole, it is the government observation that the controversy regarding physician-assisted suicide should at the least be “studied” so that the proper regulation can be properly tempered for those individuals that are terminally ill. Furthermore, the government believes that the “state” should determine, at the least, the how, who, and if possible, the when to die, for the terminally ill. Indeed, to allow the public to initiate or to control their destiny regarding euthanasia would be too chaotic and diverse for the state to ensure the public’s safety.

Ethical Opposition

The slippery slope of active euthanasia as stated says that once sanctity of life has been devalued by allowing active euthanasia then other active "involuntary", much more heinous and unacceptable forms become plausible. The ethical philosophers believe that to allow euthanasia in any form, passive or active would bring the foundation of our culture to an early termination. In other words, to allow euthanasia is in fact, allowing disarray to a system that, for the most part, is working when treating terminally ill patients. That aiding the consequentialists, the proponents, in active euthanasia is creating slippery-slope of events that will and can turn dark, if not for our elderly, but certainly for the indigent and mentally handicapped. Simply, with the indigent inability to pay; elderly seen as a drain on resources; and, the mentally challenged as incapable of contributing effectively and competently to society the physician may preempt by passively or actively pulling the plug on these patients (Clark).

Furthermore, the safeguards currently in placed to protect patients are insufficient. Therefore, the alternatives that might assist terminally ill patient comfort-level may not be developed, because the patients may feel overly pressured by their family and friends to save themselves from the indignity of the fight. Alternatively, patients may decide for assisted suicide option because of “the feeling of the lack of worth, or manifest a protest against inadequate care.” Consequently, such care may be due to inexperienced young doctors, and “the effect of pain and narcotics on ability to give informed consent (Clark).” Therefore, the moral imperative of ethical oppositionist of active euthanasia is to dissuade the terminally ill in considering suicide because all life is considered valuable and sanctified. Moreover, euthanasia in any form whether assisted or not is considered “terrible medicine” that seems to be in the view of psychiatrist Herbert Hendin, the executive director of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in New York City (Branegan).

Psychiatrist Herbert Hendin is the author of Seduced by Death, and he berates the policy of the Netherlands toleration of euthanasia and point to its failure of physicians reporting the cases of euthanasia to the public prosecutor as required (Branegan). Thus, the built in policies to ensure that the publics trust are not abused are primarily going unchecked. These guidelines according to Jay Branegan, and Barbara Smit, in their Time Magazine article, “I Want to Draw My Line Myself” were:
• Patient must be suffering pain unbearably from an incurable disease.
• The doctor must know the patient very well to ensure the request is voluntary.
• In addition, doctor must consult with another physician.

Admittedly, the Dutch primary care physician is the family doctor, in most cases, and with the socialize medicine the nursing care for the chronically ill is thriving. However, the abuse of non-reporting by physicians should bring concern to authorities of why the secrecy. One could conclude that the emotional stress of dealing with morality of assisted suicide is intrinsically wrong. Thus, the Dutch doctors are conflicted with their ethics of assisting their patients to die because the Dutch physician's values the sanctity of life (Branegan).

Physician Opposition

The doctor oath is primary, “to do no harm”, and this is continues to be the view of most doctors. In a study of the American Medical Association House of Delegates, 61.6 percent opposed the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. The beliefs by the delegates are rooted in the long held belief that suicide is wrong. It also their belief that physician-assisted suicide is “morally wrong and is poor public policy” (Whitney et al).

Furthermore, the delegates believe that legalizing physician–assisted suicide “might cause more harm to the profession and to the nation” (Whitney et al). Namely, the possible abuses from the legal profession in second guessing the physician could, the financially paralyze the medical industry. Malpractice insurance my stop carrying doctors in the fear of wrongful death lawsuits. Thereby, limiting the number of doctors who can treat patients, and in turn could clog up the patient care, restricting access to healthcare. Thus, this view is understandable considering the current state of the American culture wanting to place blame and responsibility on “someone” on a perceived wrong. Especially in sight of the evidence of Dutch physician’s lack of reporting euthanasia cases (Sanders).
Moreover, the current perceived health care crisis regarding health maintenance organizations (HMO’s) would place the indigent, elderly, and mentally handicapped, and the poor at greater risk. Again, the inability to pay for an adequate healthcare by the indigent, and the drain on resources by elderly and mentally challenged will likely encouraged physicians to “opt out” these groups quality of care. This concern addressed in the case of the Kevin Sampson versus State of Alaska, “vulnerability of socially marginalized group” would be subject to “arbitrariness” (Sanders). Thus, the ethics of the patient’s right to die, and the issue of physician-assisted suicide has put the quagmire between the delegates and the rank-and-file of the organization. However, they both agree that it is better that the status quo remains, so that the patients need could addressed individually. Therefore, it is the concern of the individual patient that is important to the physician not association or governmental policies (Whitney et al.).

The Freedom of Choice – Support

A good death can not be measured or defined nor can it be judged by some innocuous, esoteric set of rules, because each individual person or culture or ethnic group sees death differently. How an individual’s views death corresponds to, how the individual feels about euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide. However, this is not necessarily an absolute, but a factor in how death is viewed. According to June Mui Hing Mak and Michael Clinton, “In western culture, a good death [is] … defined [as] one in which the patients’ wants and needs are met.” The key words here are the “patients wants and needs” not what a governing body wants. The Chinese have a saying “‘a good birth is not as good as a good death’” (Mak et al.). Meaning that how one takes on death is just as important in how one takes on life. For instance, an individual may look at this opportunity as a social event, and have family; friends visit until the day the person dies. To many, this would be viewed as a good death, but to others, it is the intangibles that make up a good death for the individual satisfying. Some of the elements of the “intangibles” are:

• Comfort or relief of pain and suffering,
• Openness and being aware of dying,
• Completion or accepting the timing of one’s death,
• Optimism or keeping hope alive,
• Readiness or preparing for departure,
• Location or living with one’s choice about where to die;
• And, most importantly, control or acceptance of autonomy (Mak et al.).

The ability to accept one’s death is most assuredly one of the essential factors in the patients’ competency to make the decisions about how they want to die. Once the person has come to terms about their death, then, this is where the important decisions are to be made if the person has not already made out a living will. "The decision” can come only from a place of informed, rational, competent state of mind including the awareness of surroundings thereby eliminating any doubt about one’s intention. Therefore, it is at this point when choices can be made by the individual, the doctor(s), the family, and friends becoming empowering for those involved. Moreover, depending on how much time a person has left the quality and the quantity of care can be assessed. It is every individual right to be able to state how one precedes death and the intangibles are a rational person measure to defining a good death. How one faces death can only be measured by oneself and their god.

Religious Acceptance

According to Courtney S Campbell, “Death is a defining characteristic of the human experience. Yet … remains elusively beyond human control…” Meaning that, with all the technologies available to medicine and life extending technologies everyone dies sooner or later. Ordinarily, the obvious answer to whether or not religion supports euthanasia, and physician-assisted would be no. However, although the primary three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam belief that preservation of life is paramount some are willing to concede that the “dignity” and the “integrity” of self must be given its due weight (Campbell).
For instance, all three of these religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – “ address the end of life from a common value of perspective … sovereignty, stewardship, and the self.” Sovereignty defined “denotes the lives and bodies of persons created by, and ultimately return to, God… Through the value of stewardship, [one is] considered the “agents of God” called to carry out the work of divine intent on earth…[and] the dignity of persons, linked to the notion ‘self’…” (Campbell)

In other words, through sovereignty God has “graciously” brought mankind into existence, and by “bestowing” humanity with uniqueness He has adorn man the ability of free will. This ability of free will, however, does not allow man to play God with life and death. However, with stewardship, the ability of free will or “decision-making” gives mankind the responsibility for one’s action as well as entrustment of one’s body.

According to Campbell, “we … are stewards of our bodies … therefore entrusted with capacities (competence) and responsibility to make appropriate decisions.” Therefore, being “agents of god” one can determine the morality of what lifesaving measures to take to save oneself or that of a loved one. Moreover, the “dignity of the person” with the three religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) believe that “preserving life is not an absolute good in and of itself”, but “is a good that opens the way to achieving higher goods that constitute the religious self” (Campbell). Simply, “the spiritual goal of liberation [or compassion] can be seen as an ethical reason for seeking or hastening death.” (Campbell)

A Reasonable Government

A government must follow the will of the people or it will find revolution knocking on its door wanting to chop off the leadership’s head. Since, the 1970’s the Netherlands has tolerated some form of euthanasia. In fact, the Netherlands has already passed the law formerly. The guidelines (regulations) that have been hammered out over the pass 20 years have come into effect. The guidelines require a formal declaration that state,
• “The patient makes a voluntary and informed request,
• That he or she is suffering from irremediable and unbearable pain,
• And that all medical options have been exhausted,
• A second, independent doctor must be consulted; and,
• The euthanasia must be carried out carefully, and reported to an inspection panel made up of a lawyer, a physician, and an ethics expert.” (Janssen)
According to Roel Janssen, “a study conducted showed that 92 percent of the Dutch population supported euthanasia. Furthermore, that 200,000 people out of 16 million carried a paper declaring their wish to be helped to die in case there is no more prospects for a normal, healthy life.” A normal life, pain free, and healthy is the elements the proponents have used to persuade the Dutch government to allow euthanasia. In fact, there is strong movement afoot in favor of voluntary death in the Netherlands despite the pro-life lobby (Janssen). The Netherlands is one government that understood the will of the people must take precedence over the state when the individual end of life has been determined. Meaning, how a person dies is uniquely their own and must be respected as long the individual has made an informed, voluntary and competent decision.

The freedom of choice is paramount, and to be able to choose how one greets death comforts the spiritual nature not only to the families, but also to society as whole. An example of this would be, in a case of Bouvia v. Superior Court, Judge Lynn Compton stated, “Self-determination is the most basic of freedoms. Each of us has the absolute right to our own goals and values, as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others. These rights include our right to die at life’s end at the time and place of our choice, whether by active or passive means. The law must so provide.” (Risely)

Again, the government has restated once more, that the individual has the right to choose one’s final end game.

Conclusion

In the late 1990’s, a sci-fi television show, known as Star Trek: Next Generation, had a race of beings called the Klingons – a fierce warrior race. One of, the Klingons, rallying cries was “It is a good day to die!” when going into battle. This cry was not heroic fodder to pump up their ego or to show their courage, but a way of showing that life has been good and whatever the outcome of the day, that they were ready to face death. Their families understood that they might not come back, because they faced the challenges head on with dignity, honor, and courage. They accepted the choice of being a warrior. In turn, when a person chooses to die through passive or active means – it does not intend to show cowardice. On the contrary, it displays composure by facing down the reality and moving forward.

Works Cited

Branegan, Jay, Smit, Barbara, “I Want To Draw the Line Myself” Time 149:11 (3/17/97): EBSCO HOST Research Database. 8 April 2003. http://web15.epnet.com/citation
Campbell, Courtney S., “Euthanasia and Religion” UNESCO Courier 53:1 (1/2000): EBSCO HOST Research Database. 8 April 2003. http://web15.epnet.com/citation
Clark, Michael “Euthanasia and the Slippery Slope” Journal of Applied Philosophy 15 (1998): EBSCO HOST Research Database. 8 April 2003. http://web15.epnet.com/citation
Janssen, Roels “Government Suports Euthanasia” Issue 390 (Oct99): EBSCO HOST Research Database. 8 April 2003. http://web15.epnet.com/citation
Mak, June Mui Hing, Clinton, Michael, “Promoting a Good Death: An agenda for Outcomes Research – A Review of the Literature” Nursing Ethics (1999): EBSCO HOST Research Database. 8 April 2003. http://web15.epnet.com/citation
Riseley, Robert L., “Voluntary Active Euthanasia: The Next Frontier” Issues in Law & Medicine 8:3 (Winter92): EBSCO HOST Research Database. 2 April 2003. http://web15.epnet.com/citation
Sanders, Eric T., “Kevin Sampson V. State of Alaska” Issues in Law & Medicine 15:2 (fall99): EBSCO HOST Research Database. 8 April 2003. http://web15.epnet.com/citation
Whitney, Simon N. MD, JD, Brown, Byron W., Jr., PhD, Brody, Howard, MD, PhD. Alcser, Kirsten H., PhD., Bachman, Jerald G., PhD., Greeley, Henry T., JD “Views of the United States Physician and Members of the American Medical Association House of Delegates on Physician-assisted Suicide Department of Family and Community Medicine 16:5 (2001): EBSCO HOST Research Database. 8 April 2003. http://web15.epnet.com/citation

The Four Dead Presidents

May 11, 2005

The Convention Speeches of Four Dead Presidents
By Greg K. Stewart

Introduction:

For the past few months, I have been taking a US history course at one of our community colleges, here in Denver, Colorado for a course requirement, to obtain my degree in international business. Although, it was a required course, history has always been one of my favorite subjects. Nevertheless, I found it compelling, not only learning but observing what was being taught. The textbook I had to buy was called The American Promise: A History of the United authored by James L. Roark, Michael P. Johnson, Patricia Cline Cohen, Sarah Stage, Alan Lawson, and Susan Hartman (Roark et al). In general, the text was “complete” and non-bias, for the most part. However, the last few chapters seem to slant a little far to the left; the last chapter, however, clearly made up for the slanted leanings of the previous works. I felt all to propagandize, when the explanation of the first gulf war, by way of this explanation, was a result of the terrorist incident of September 11 2001, but that is a discussion for another time, and my experience turned rather ambivalent. Nonetheless, I found a topic, I could expound about, my four favorite presidents: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. Do not let the list fool you; I am large Libertarian, but these gentlemen captured my fancy for various reasons, and I had to contain my enthusiasm for the last, but certainly, not the least—Ronald Reagan. So, as a tribute to them and my rather leaning professor, here were some of my thoughts….

A Thoughtful Repose

It may seem inane to write about four dead men, and the words they spoke before a nation of ideologues, Republicans and Democrats, but these words spoken set forth a path of divinity that has been recorded by history. They have lasted the passage of time and immemorial in respect to the currency of divination that has played out in the cost of American lives, blood, and tears.
I will not review the past three presidencies; in the fact, that they are not dead, nor will I expound on their toils and words of Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Dwight Eisenhower. But I will, very briefly, explore the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. The aforementioned are all great men in their own right; after all, it takes a great deal of will and passion to successfully be elected in the environs of American political office. Nevertheless, the latter four have qualities which resonate with the public and have made decisions that no other succeeding president would have to face. So, I looked at their nomination speeches, to examine their quality of their words in order to divine an understanding at what type of men they were.

No Fear President

I begin with the first three: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and John F. Kennedy all of whom I was unable to observe as men, since I was not I alive to make value judgments of their stature. Beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, obtain from the website of The American Presidency (APW-FDR) in his 1936 nomination acceptance speech, he speaks on the events of what he refer to as the nation’s duty for charity, he states “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference,” these ideas of his, are put in place before I am born. His idea of the “New Deal” (Roark et al) saved democracy and the republic for me to observe, and be part of a great country, the after affects of his policy in the years that followed would set the stage for equality among men, women, and the races— but especially from the ranks of the “lower classes.”
He would touch on class elitism in his acceptance speech; he told his audience that Americans mission to save itself from economic adversity was far from over. The “economic royalist,” those who would subject the labor of the hardworking man, the farmer, and people in between, would be costly if he did not aid in the finishing of his mission (APW-FDR).
Americans are a product of their fore fathers, he explained, who sought “freedom from tyranny of a political autocracy, from the eighteenth century royalist who held privileges from the crown” (APW-FDR). He said the “economic royalist” of the 20th century that came as a result from the Gilded Age of the 19th century (Roark et al) and transformed the 20th century classes to the extremes have’s-and-have-not’s . The depression had taken its toll on the people of America, and it was time for a correction. He exclaimed, he took up the mantle, the challenge, and saved them from their “fears” (APW-FDR). He gave them a “New Deal”; thus, returning dignity and humanity to the common man.

The Fair Deal Truman

Harry S. Truman felt that his “Fair Deal” would propel Americans forward. But in order to succeed, America would have to have a “square deal” of opportunity for all. He would say in, according again to the website The American Presidency, in his nomination acceptance speech of 1948, in Philadelphia, that the failure of the, “80th Republican Congress…was dodg[ing] their responsibility” (APW-HST). Their promises to serve the American public were getting bogged down in “committees,” or stuck in the respective legislative “houses” (APW-HST). Truman, at least from my perceptions, perceived, in order to resolve the crisis of the American spirit; the government duty was to carry the torch of hope for the people. Harry Truman made the “big” decision, when it was time to decide to drop the A-bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima—he made it. He also believed, in my humble opine, that the role of government was to “attack the citadel of special privilege and greed” (APW-HST) in order to provide for the less fortunate.

Snapshot of JFK

It is, however, unfortunate that President Kennedy was unable to be see the conclusion of his dream: To see Neil Armstrong walk and land on the moon for the United State of America. Nonetheless, John F. Kennedy's nomination speech in the Memorial Coliseum, in Los Angeles (APW-JFK), saw the “great challenge” was not the concern for his religion, if elected, he was a Catholic, but for the social equality for all of those who had suffered at the hands of the economic oppressors. He recaps the accomplishments, horrors, and the presidents—but his ascription to the spirit of Americans was unfathomable. He would say, referencing from The American Presidency website, “It would be easier to shrink back from the new frontier …to the safe mediocrity…[of] good intentions and high rhetoric,” he would ask, “of each of [us] to be pioneers on that new frontier [and of ] invention, innovation, imagination, [and] decision.” The decade to follow would shine his vision in not only cultural upheaval of the 1960’s, of music and deaths. But in his missile crisis with Cuba compelling us to examine, and never step so close to brink of disaster, that we could never step back from the line of a nuclear war….

The Electric Speaker

Lastly, Ronald Reagan, known as the Great Communicator, would be first nominated in 1980 and win during the time of an economic down turn (Roark et al), but in his 1984 nomination speech in Texas, before his re-election, he campaigns from the pulpit in Texas. He says, in his speech, of which I paraphrase, that the citizens of the country were helping to build a greater America. He felt that life was on the mend. He would state, “We can all be proud that pessimism is ended. America is coming back and is more confident than ever about the future” (APW-RR). Ronald Reagan portrayed the father figure the country desperately needed after the 1970’s, where double-digit inflation was on the rise, and the economy had virtually hit rock bottom (Roark et al). Ronald Reagan was the man who clearly understood and felt he could lead the charge of rational economic spending (APW-RR). He had guided us through the evils of communism, and that nuclear war served only one master—and that was death. He would defend the use of troops in Grenada, and quickly extricate the forces from the beautiful Caribbean island and restore its democracy. As previously stated, I was not around for the first three presidential greats, but Ronald Reagan, I observed. He played the every man, father, and grandfather. At times, and mostly through my stubbornness, I would disagree with the ideals, beliefs, and programs to cure the ills of the day. I was young, but looking back, admittedly through the eyes of nostalgia and wisdom, his steady hand and course provided the touch Americans needed. He remarked of “United States resiliency,” and poetically decried that “Miss Liberty’s torch the ‘lamp beside the golden door’” was still opened for “our children to walk into tomorrow with knowledge that no one can be denied the promise that is America.”

His words were inspirational and yet infuriating at the same time. How could a man be so naïve? I used to think, but in the end, his diligence led to the fall of communism. Kennedy's crisis with Cuba shielded us from harm, while Truman and FDR established that this country during war and in peace would do what we needed to survive. These men and their greatness provided the guiding touch that America needed in the time of crises; my hope for today is that we have that in our current president.

Cited Work

Kennedy, John Fitzgerald. Nomination Acceptance Speech, in Los Angeles, July 15, 1960: 4 May 2005: website of The American Presidency cited from the http://www.theamericanpresidency.us/nomajfk.htm
Reagan, Ronald. Nomination Acceptance Speech, in Dallas, August 23, 1984. 4 May 2005: website of The American Presidency cited from the http://www.theamericanpresidency.us/nomareagan84.htm
Roark, James L. et al (2005). The American Promise: A History of the United States—Volume II: From 1865. Boston / New York. Bedford/St. Martin’s
Roosevelt, Franklin Delano. Nomination Acceptance Speech, in Philadelphia, June 27, 1936: 4 May 2005: website of The American Presidency cited from the http://www.theamericanpresidency.us/nomafdr36.htm
Truman, Harry S. Nomination Acceptance Speech, in Philadelphia, July 25, 1948: 4 May 2005: website The American Presidency cited from the http://www.theamericanpresidency.us/nomatruman48.htm