Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Gay Marriage – A Human Perspective

June 8, 2006

Editor's Note: As some of you may or may not know I am taking my core requirements for my Anthropology degree at a local community college. By doing this is I have reduced my expense in the cost of paying for my degree. However, in order to transfer to a full accredited university, I must meet a certain criteria.

One of those criteria is the requirement of college research English. Why do bring this nostalgic moment up? Once again, the recycled debate of gay marriage has hit the political landscape. Three years ago, when the political savvy elite found fodder in rehashing this a "cultural war" gem as a way to engergize the religious right base, I wrote research for this class. So, I dusted it off and I submit it to you for your appraisal or discussion. One further point, I would like to acknowledge my instructor for all his patience and guidance – Bob O'Connell.

Dateline: June O5, 2006

Warner T. Huston, of the Publius’ Forum, advocates the amending the US Constitution to restrict a personal liberty in order to curtail the “judicial activism.” There is something funny about “judicial activism,” there are only “activist judges” when “they,” the judges, disagrees, most often, with a particular social, cultural, or policy in the opinion of the dissenter, whether they are Left, or Right.

For instance, conservatives (and some right thinking Lefties) railed when the US Supreme Court ruled that in Connecticut that it was okay in the view of public policy to condemn a private citizen’s property in lieu of a corporate entity. On the other hand, the liberals were dismayed when again, the US Supreme Court, ruled that the Ku Klux Klan have a right to free speech even in the form of what could be considered “hate speech.”

The opinion of the judiciary is sometime behind the curve (think Jim Crow laws) and sometimes ahead (think Roe v Wade); nonetheless, “judicial activism” is in the eye of the beholder. Which brings me to another point of consideration of Warner’s discourse, that the restriction of personal liberty, and I must add, “Of consenting adults” as necessity to combat the social mores of a US citizen. To restrict freedom only invites a festering dissension and resentment. At present, although not sanctioned by law, same-sex marriage is not banned. This should remain a state issue, to cede authority to federal government gives more power to the Executive, US Congress, and the US Senate and will be far more difficult to wrest away from the “representative” government when needed.

Furthermore, to have a constitution convention to modify in the current state of patriotic religious fervor would be far more dangerous than the actual amendment. It is fortunate that the Founding Fathers made the modification of the “great experiment” so difficult. The rules state as follows, per the interpretation of the US Senate website.

The Constitution may be amended in two ways. The standard device, used for all amendments so far, is for both houses of Congress to pass by two-thirds vote a proposal, which they send to the states for ratification, either by state legislatures or by conventions within the states. An amendment is ratified when three-fourths of the states approve. The Constitution also authorizes a national convention, when two-thirds of the states petition Congress for such a convention, to propose amendments, which would also have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states.

In these rules we find rationality and temperament, in that, the nation should never rage to the popular movement in order to constraint or advocate without active discourse. In the case of the marriage amendment, cynical political rhetoric was clearly being used to influence, to cajole the far right Christian base of the president in order to energize his base. Overall public clarity saw through this, not because of any public prescience, but the State of the Union is in disarray due in part of missteps of the Executive administration. There may be “a constant statistic” of 70 percent in favor “traditional marriage,” but less than half of those “traditionalist” want an amendment to make it so, and that to has been a “constant statistic.” One final point, there is a reason why Founders separated centralized religion, and that was to save the nation from emotional, irrational, and divisiveness of religion sweeping politics. Fortunately for us, it is just another day in paradise and the devil of emotional chaos and confusion has been left at the doors of Eden…..

Definitions:

Marriage – according to “Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (unabridged)” that marriage is “the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife” (1384). Furthermore, it also is the institution “whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining family.”

Gay – is defined by the Webster’s dictionary in respect to this paper –“ homosexuals” – relating to, or being a socially integrated group oriented toward and concerned with the welfare of homosexuals (941).

Homosexual ­– is an adjective describing a person who is or “of relating to or marked by sexual interest in the same sex as oneself; and, or relating to, or involving sexual intercourse with members of the same sex. (1085)"

Gay Marriage – is simply the state of being united with a person same sex in a special kind of social, and legal dependence, and possibly for founding and maintaining a family.

Introduction

So what is the controversy regarding “Gay Marriages?” Could it be that if allowed, Americans might have to accept and acknowledge that gay and lesbians “perceived abnormal behavior” is no more different from a person of color? How can a “normal” uniformed citizenry deny the right of freedom of choice in the 21st century? How can the government? How can religion? The answer is that what is perceived as “normal” by American cultural standards is that one male and one female – heterosexual marriage – are “normal” and nothing outside of the “norm” will be accepted. However, this denial of freedom, of expression, and of choice, even to a “small segment of the people” is a denial to “all the people.” Thus, is the controversy. So, we as a free principled society ask, "Can we as Americans, as a people, look at 'ourselves' in the mirror and truly say that every law abiding American has 'true' freedom of choice?" The simple is, no.

Thesis Statement

Gay marriages should be allowed between two consenting adults, they should be afforded all the privileges that go with it, and the government should lead the way.

Government Opposition

Opposition (1)

 

Question – Why does the government oppose gay marriages? The simple answer – because its citizenry does. For instance, Charles T. Canady R-Fla., said “lawmakers have responsibility to draw a legal distinction between heterosexual marriages and unions between people of the same sex …What is at stake in this controversy? … Nothing less than our collective moral understanding … of the essential nature of family.” (Idelson) This attitude by the Florida representative gives insight as to where the perceptions of collective heads of our government are regarding gay marriage. Thus, if gay marriages are allowed then the foundation of American society, the family, will be pillaged bringing further decay to an already rotting society. However, there are other reasons behind the government’s opposition: the United States Constitution. Article IV of the United States constitution states that every state must recognize and give with “Full Faith and Credit” to the “public acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings” of other states (Human Events). In other words, if one state were to accept the covenant of same sex marriages then the other 49 states would have to honor the contract of the couple. Thus, the issuing state would be imposing its will on a citizenry that has not voted up or down on whether to recognize gay marriages.

Such a case happened in 1996. A lesbian couple, wanting to have their marriage allowed, went to the Hawaiian Supreme Court, only to have it dropped later in 1999 because of a decisive public referendum. Thus, the public’s outcry for banning gay marriages in 1999 cannot be interpreted as reasoned or thought through but is a result of a core emotional reaction to what it perceives as “normal” by the American public. Moreover, back in 1996 when the possibility of gay marriages might have been formally recognized as legitimate, the United States House of Representatives in July passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Soon after, the United States Senate joined the House on September 10, 1996 in passing DOMA. Moreover, President Clinton signed it into law to help bolster his re-election chances. What is DOMA?

The purpose of DOMA is to amend Article IV, Section 1 of the US Constitution along with Chapter 1 of Title of the US code by adding a new section. The former, Article IV, Section 1 gives the Congress the right to “prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.” Therefore, the US Congress can interpret what is “Full Faith and Credit” for the states. The latter, Chapter 1, Section 7 is an additional segment to the chapter that states, “ … the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Furthermore, “the word ‘spouse’ refers to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife (Human Events).” Therefore, the United States Congress chose to reflect an anxious American public outcry that gay marriages not be allowed in order to preserve the “American family.”

Family Opposition

Opposition (2)

Some would say that the degradation of the family began soon after the French Revolution. Far fetched? In the West, marriage was the Domain of the Roman Catholic Church until the Reformation, and nothing more than a licensed concubinage. According to Kevin Grace (15-16) in his article, “Why Save the Nuclear Family?” the late sociologist Christopher Lasch stated that by the end of the 19th century marriage and family was viewed by American newspapers and magazines as being in crisis. Their view was that with the “rising rate of divorce, the falling birthrate with ‘better sort of people’, the changing role of women, and the ‘so called revolution in morals’” the traditional family could no longer exist with the ever-changing world of modernization. As an example of this, the divorce rate increased fifteen-fold between 1870 and 1920. Nearly one out of seven marriages ended in divorce and with no sign of reversing itself. How does this data support the opposition? Simple, the “revolution” in morals has deconstructed the family sense of community, of “kinship network” (15). With the loss of the family unit, the closeness of the grandparents and cousins for all practical purposes are non-existent, because of the impracticability of modern life. Thus same sex marriages, if allowed, then would virtually emasculate traditional marriage altogether. Moreover, this is the fear of the “conservative” right as well as of the majority of the American public who views homosexuality as “outside” of normal behavior.

However, for the “conservative right” it goes deeper than the loss of normalcy and affects Americans spiritually. Religious leaders have used the events of September 11 to show America’s lack of morals, and that it has contributed to the destruction of the American family. Thereby, if Americans decide to cave into the “gay rights movement” by allowing same-sex marriages, God would then condemn America forever.

Opposition (3)

The Religious Perspective

In the opinion of Dennis Prager, from the Public Interest, in his article "Homosexuality, The Bible, and US – A Jewish Perspective.” Is that “It is impossible for Judaism to make peace with homosexuality, because homosexuality denies most fundamental values … denies life … it denies God … (and) denies (what) the Bible prescribes for all mankind – the family.” He discusses the spiritual and religious reasoning for denying gay marriages.

In fact, he states the allowance of gay marriages would be immoral and that “even if homosexuals have ‘no choice’ we offer our compassion.” However, this does not extend to giving up the “heterosexual marital ideals.” The roles of men and women have been clearly defined as such; it is one of the primary reasons why same sex marriages should not be allowed. Prager points out, that “men need women” and vice versa – stating that “when God solved man’s aloneness by creating one other person, a woman – not a man, not a few women, not a community of men and women.” Meaning that man’s sole purpose, in regards to loneliness, is not found in the function of a community or the same sex, but his completion of being with one woman.

Thus, when men and women marry they become fully human (Prager). Therefore, when God created man, he created both male and female. He created “them” not “you guys” or “you gals.” Therefore, marriage is not only a tribute to God, but to the community as a whole. In addition, when a man gets married to a female he is “choosing life,” meaning that he has chosen to procreate and establish a legacy. In the view of Judaism, homosexuality is death, because it fails to propel the human species forward without additional assistance (Prager).

Furthermore, the homosexual lifestyle for males breeds infidelity, which is more the rule than the exception. Although in the modern era, infidelity is one of the primary reasons for divorce among heterosexual couples. However, this is due to lack of modern morality more than a perceived abnormality. So, what is at stake for religion if tolerance and the resulting laws for gay marriages are allowed? Simply, the foundation of ideals set forth by Judeo-Christian civilization is at stake. In other words, the “sexual behavior (of a society) plays a role in either building or eroding a civilization (Prager).” That behavior is a key to the survival of a civilization.

Ideal Government

Support (1)

The United States is founded on the ideals of individualism, liberty, and freedom. It is the right of every American to pursue happiness. The idea of not allowing a group of people to pursue their “ultimate happiness” is contrary to the establishment of this country. To deny the rights of marriage, simply because of the antiquated notion of what marriage should look like is discriminatory at the least and invidious at the worse. M.D. A. Freeman states that “Overcoming prejudice – which remains at the root of most opposition – will be difficult… If we believe in autonomy … and believe that the institution of marriage is valuable … it is difficult to justify depriving homosexuals and lesbians of this treasured form of human association.” Moreover, to allow murderers, rapists, and those with communicable disease such as HIV-infection or those who suffer from AIDS as well as transvestites or transsexuals to marry, as long as one was born the opposite sex, is inconsistent. The view of the government should be that marriage is the right of every citizen no matter the politics or sexual behavior (Freeman 1-17).

Furthermore, the government should be encouraging gay marriages because its what is good not only for the person, but also good for a community of people. To limit a people by restricting their happiness is intrinsically wrong. According to Freeman, in 1967 when the “state of Virginia was challenged by Loving, it could have argued that the incidents of marriage were designed with same-race marriages in mind.” However, they did not. Why? Because they knew that they had crossed the line. Discrimination is discrimination no matter what forms it tries to disguise itself.

Therefore, the government should lead the people, and enforce the public laws that are currently on the books so that equal opportunity for all people is rightly represented no matter what their sexual orientation. As a group with equal protection under the law, they should be allowed to explore all the possibilities of institutional marriage including that of having a family.

Support (2)

Families Coming Out

What constitutes a family? According to Webster ‘s Third International Dictionary – it is a group of individuals living under one roof – a household; they may share the same ancestry, and have common religious and political views. Simply, family can be a group that shares a common goal from the parent on down to the child or whomever resides within the home.

The “gay-rights movement” sees the worry that most citizens may have regarding children being raised by adults that society considers abnormal. However, the advocates of gay marriage can argue that heterosexual homes fare no better. Some examples of this are the Jerry Springer Show, Ricki Lake, Jenny Jones reflected in the world of pop culture. For instance one Jenny Jones’ show “Teenagers Gone Wild”, discussing teenagers girls and their promiscuity defying their parents rules about school and household rules.

When it comes to family, Americans seem to want to band together on what they perceive a family and marriage is. Whatever the popular culture is reflecting about America, the gay-rights advocates are asking for a major cultural change. However, some states may concede to adopt a new type of institution referred to as a “civil union”; the state of Vermont is the first state to have civil unions (Sullivan). Although civil unions will have all the legal rights as an institutional marriage, many view this step, in the gay-rights movement, as a half measure. Moreover, although civil unions may recognize the partnerships of same-sex commitments, the perceptual view of it will not be same as marriage. Not quite condoning, nor condemning gay marriages. They concede that civil unions however are a step in the right direction. They question whether the public will afford them “all” the opportunities that marriage brings.

For instance – will a gays or lesbians be able to raise their own children how they want, have the right to adopt, take in foster children, or have the opportunity to be Big Brother/Sisters? The continual social stigma of raising a child that has two parents that are of the same-sex can be hard. However, more and more families are coming out of the shadows into the mainstream of public life. In an article in the Newsweek Lifestyle section, once the child has an opportunity to accept their differences from other families they are essentially no worse off than other “normal” families. Although social acceptance of “gay families” has a long way to go, the continual “outing” of families will most likely allow Americans more tolerance for the differences. This may eventually lead to the religious acceptance of gay marriages and same-sex families.

Religious Tolerance

There is a movement afoot, and the foundation seems to be coming from within the chapel itself – tolerance. In an article written by Chris Glasner, he writes a two-fold story; one is set in subtext regarding his homosexuality in the ministry, and the other is the direct message regarding his marriage to his life partner. He discusses back in 1996 how his “calling” and his “marriage” were under attack because of the legal hoopla in Hawaii. In 1996, three gay couples challenged the state of Hawaii regarding the same-sex marriage license status (Kunen). Glasner recalls how this is a cultural issue among heterosexuals and how they “scapegoated the lesbian and gay communities”. He recalls how is family and his biological families came under attack; and, the battle from within his own church regarding the dynamic of gay-marriage and families. The final resolution that was written showed the tolerance within his church and the church congregation. What this story shows is that religion is adaptable, and that doctrine is not always absolute.

However, the real battle for religious acceptance will most likely come in the form of secularism. In other words, the battle for acceptance must come in a form of a three-prong attack. First, the gay-rights movement must persuade legislators that being gay is not hazardous to the public wellness. Secondly, and this is most important, that the coveted institution of marriage will not be undermined. In fact, the institution itself may be better off with the stability of committed lesbians and gay-partners (Freeman). Thirdly, the underlining church and state laws regarding homosexuality sodomy must be separated if the culture of intolerance is to be broken (Clark). Why must the separation of Church and State be torn apart? Answer – because the continued entanglement of Church and State culture will foster the furtherance of intolerance. In addition, as long as the two are tied together the State cannot be swayed out of its long irrationality of tradition. Therefore, the “real harm being gay consists of being the victim of homophobia and heterosexism;” thus the denial to right of marriage (Freeman).

By the publics inculcating homosexuality, they can demoralize the gay-rights movement as a result of not allowing “them” into the fold of normal society. Why? Because those who would deny this inalienable right realize that gay and lesbian partnerships would have the same stabilizing factors as does the heterosexual partnerships with individuals and community. Moreover, the opposition feels that the civil advantages of marriage belong to strictly to the heterosexuals (Clark).

The enculturation of heterosexual marriage is so engrained that the “gay rights” movement must use the popular culture of America to find its acceptance. Therefore, only by exposing the American public to their message can they change the minds of the next generation.

Summary

The two sides have many reasons for what “they” believe is valid. For instance, the opposing religious view is that gay marriage is immoral, that it invites death to a civilization. On the other hand, the government is reflecting what the American public wants. Moreover, the opposing family view feels that the exclusivity of what makes up a family should be that of heterosexuals and sees nothing wrong denying its accessibility to “marriage.” While the proponents of gay marriages feel that social acceptance is dependent upon how the government leads it people, and will be the only way that Americans will be more tolerant of “their” lifestyle. Moreover, the proponents of gay-families feel that with their “coming out” that the American culture must find a way to adapt to the differences in families. In addition, with movement within some religious circles towards homosexuals there may be eventual change on the idea of gay marriages.

Conclusion

The success of gay marriages and gay families are solely dependent on three factors: the government, the gay-rights educating the public and finally, the tolerance of religious leaders. The last two will take time and energy, but the first will take a concerted effort by the gay-rights movement to remind the government that “they” are also part of the “people.” To put it simply, two consenting adults should be allowed to marry no matter what their sexual orientation. After all, at least from a human perspective, “they” – gays and lesbians – are Americans too; and, “they” have a right to the freedom of choice and expression as well.

Works Cited

Clark, Thomas W. “Secularism and sexuality. The case for gay equality” Humanist 54.3 (May/June 94): EBSCO HOST Research Database. 26 Feb. 2003. http://0-search.epnet.com.skyline.cudenver.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&an=9406031590

Freeman, M. D. A. “Not Such A Queer Idea: Is There a Case for Same-Sex Marriages?” Journal of Applied Philosophy 16.1 (1999): 26 Feb 2003. http://0-search.epnet.com.skyline.cudenver.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&an=4374093

Glaser, Chris “Marriage As We See It” 128.12 (9/96) Newsweek: 26 Feb 2003. http://www.highbeam.com/library/doc1.asp?docid=1G1:18662356&refid=SEO

Grace, Kevin Michael “Why Save the Nuclear Family?” The Report 2 Sept. (2002): 26 Feb 2003. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb3543/is_200209/ai_n8358586

Kunen, James “Hawaiian Courtship” Time 128.27 (12/96): 26 Feb. 2003. http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,985702,00.html

Idelson, Holly “Panel Okays Bill To Undercut Same-Sex Marriages” Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 54.24 (06/96): 26 Feb 2003. http://web20.epnet.com

“Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Imperils the family” Human Events 52.20 (5/96): 26 Feb. http://0-search.epnet.com.skyline.cudenver.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&an=9605260578

Prager, Dennis “Homosexuality, The Bible, and US – A Jewish Perspective” 93.112: 26 Jun 2006 http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0377/is_n112/ai_14466341

Sullivan, Andrew “State of the Union” New Republic 16.1 (1999): 26 Feb 2003. http://0-search.epnet.com.skyline.cudenver.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&an=3059571

 

pnet.com/citation.asp

Bipolar America

February 25, 2006

Dateline: February 22, 2006. Yesterday, I was perusing my local newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News, here in Denver, when I came across two articles juxtapose from one another; perhaps due to a mischievous editor’s eye. Nonetheless, these two articles illustrated the state of education and the state of the American condition, or at the least, the state of education within my local community. One had to do with a junior, in a Littleton high school, a suburb of Denver metropolitan area, and the other, an elementary school in Bennett, Colorado—approximately 35 miles outside of Denver.

The latter story had to do with a teacher “on leave” due to showing the “highlights” of the video opera “Faust” to her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade classes. Let’s begin here: Tresa Waggoner, 33, showed her students the allegorical drama, of sin, temptation, and of excessive pride. She did this in order to prepare her students from a visit from Opera Colorado, but as fate had it, she received a call from a parent who chastised her, saying “'I basically do not understand why do you not let the kids sing Christmas songs at their winter concert, but you would teach them about the devil. Are you not a Christian?'” She, a first year music teacher, naturally informed her principal, Mark Reinsbach and gave him the video, which she had found on the shelf in her music room, it was titled Who’s Afraid of Opera. He later instructed her to write apology letters to the parents.

As a result, she is now on “permanently paid administrative leave,” and according to the by-line reporter, Tillie Fong, a substitute teacher has been hired to finish teaching the semester at the elementary school, and for the fall 2006, a new teacher has been hired. So, in effect, the Tresa Waggoner has been boxed in. This is known as being caught between a rock and a hard place. Clichéd—yes, but aptly situated. The district is afraid to “terminate” her because of a potential lawsuit, which there had been mention of a possibility if she was, but they also decide to curry the favor of the hypersensitive parents, just because the “devil” was mentioned (ooh) in an operatic instruction of music appreciation. Admittedly, I myself am not a connoisseur of the music, but I do have an admiration of great classical music. Good music is good music. The universality of music is the tie that brings communities together, whether they are small town Americana, or a ritual tribal dance, or a classical opera using a metaphor for love, hate, temptation, and life. Music speaks to our narrative heart. But in this case, for this teacher, the impact of classical exposure for her students seemed to rear the ugly head of ignorance and fear, which resulted in the co-option of the better angels of understanding. The conservative nannyists have stepped in to save the children from the “lesbian, devil worshipper.” E-gads! And, now she has been sent to her own version of purgatory; her options for searching for other employment are shunted until there’s resolution with Bennett school district.

The late social critic of education, Neil Postman, felt that the state of public schools lacked the perspective of the instructive narrative. To teach through narrative, metaphor, and allegory made for a better rounded student; and also, the element to a critical thinking person. However, apparent this may not be a desired result for Bennett, Colorado schools.

As a person, Tresa Waggoner, who has made a couple Christian music albums, sang in her church more than her half life, and taught choir at the middle and high schools, and yet she was and is not Christian enough. So, now she sits awaiting her fate. But it is okay the non-judgmental, accepting, and loving Christians will come to her aid, won’t they?

On the other hand, there is the case where the ACLU (American Civil Liberty Union), defended successfully, under the threat of a lawsuit, of course, the rights of a 16 year old, a junior, at Littleton High School. The school and the district decided to suspend the young man, Brian Lopez, for making “mocking comments” of the school, the district resources, and acquaintances, on his Myspace.com website, on his personal computer. They were even tried to expel the student for “violating” the Student Code of Conduct (pdf page 4), according Tillie Fong, who filed the initial reporting of the student’s suspension. It basically states that, the students are required to follow school policies on and off school grounds are not discriminate, harass, or intimidate others, or disruptive of the “educational process of the school.” If the student has a committed a criminal act, suspension and expulsion can be allotted, obviously. But what is interesting, the school and district deems themselves guardian over all student behavior, and this includes student using their personal computer.

Apparently, Brian Lopez sin was lampooning, again, on his personal computer, his school and students in a “crude and inappropriate fashion.” The site, unfortunately, has been taken down, but according to reports, and observations that this was satirical “prank.” If not for the hypersensitivity of a parent (sounds familiar doesn’t it?) Brian would not have been suspended. In fact, both stories reflect the hypersensitivity of one parent (or minority number of parents), one from left, and other from the right. Some have made the case that these mirror the conservative perspective, but I disagree, if one is willing to see the dialogue of the school policy of zero tolerance. In the school system earnest to protect all, it has sacrificed the educational process of the student’s individual narrative.

In preparing for this story, I realized that America was and is in crisis. The inability of Americans to recognize cautionary tales such as the opera Faustus or the inability to respect the principalities of freedom of speech has my faith wondering if we are reverting to a time irreparable polarization. The hypersensitive schools are being plied by both the right and the left of the political extremes. And, although we live in a time of crisis, the “war on terror” has relegated us to an overwrought paranoia that is crippling this country’s sense of community and trust. As friend stated, “There use to be a time, when we respected each other ideological perspective, and did not question one’s loyalty, or for that matter the motive…now the parties, individuals are so split, polarized, that it is difficult to have a dissenting opinion without be called a traitor, unpatriotic, or worse yet a liberal.” In other words, if you do have a different ideology, your motives are suspected.

Such suspicion has created a bipolar America, where the political extremes find themselves meeting at the same place——authoritarianism; a place where freedom of expression, ideals, and beliefs are demoralized, demonized, and demeaned. The Littleton student learned that, if you are critical, or criticize (there is a difference), even satirically, the price one might have to pay is their own liberty. And as for the teacher, she learned that sometimes directing young souls is troublesome when trying to open a child’s mind to discovery, especially when their parent’s mind is narrow and closed.

Nevertheless, the nannyist’s closed minds from each side are tearing down our children, dissembling their ability to find themselves, and destroying their capability in finding their own personal narratives. In so doing, the future is being sabotaged by the political correct police extremes by limiting the opportunities, choices, and discovery of our kids in which our next generation of artists, poets, leaders, and heroes will come. And so it goes, the next generation will face the uncertainty of the story, let us hope they are able to complete tale.

After all, it’s just another day in paradise, even if they succeed or …..

Have We Lost Our Principles?

October 2, 2005

To find men of principles that strive for honorable causes, in which, they adjoin for the community the state of grace, has not only dwindled but has virtually disappeared. The innate goodness of men has lost their way in the polarization of political equanimity and has fragmented into balkanization of dishonor, in that, the strife which has ensued in the climate of post 9/11 has deteriorated equilibrium of the public. Insomuch that, with the over saturation of public access to information, the public’s sagacity has been paralyzed by fear and disinformation. The Iron Age of America has begun and suffered the barbarians at its gates; the last civilized democracy has immured itself into chaos.

The United States of America, the beacon of liberty, a far descended child of Socrates, and the “Golden Age” of Greece has failed their instruction and philosophical teachings.

This “Golden Age,” and its martyred hero Socrates was one of the first principled men of the West; he was one of the first father of philosophy. And although some felt that his principality had developed into a ‘religious’ type movement; that his popularity had subverted the government, his students realized his contribution to their city-state nation. His acumen to question everything, to some, seemed to undermine the authority of the nation. To ponder patriotism, god, and the way of life was unsettling and disturbing to many. Nevertheless, the man Socrates may have had seen himself as superior, but he did not see himself as a faultless deity. Then again, like most charismatic leaders, Socrates was certainly egocentric, but had learned the lessons of discernment, or as it sometimes referred to as the Socratic Method.

His methodology provided the foundations of Western-American philosophy, and enabled leaders that followed the example of piety, authenticity, and truthfulness, his charisma set the challenge for other notables, such as: Alexander the Great, Jesus, St. Augustine, Martin Luther, George Washington, Napoleon, Adolph Hitler, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Billy Graham, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and John F. Kennedy found such clarity of purpose within themselves to lead great “social dramas,” to weave and fold to the next transition, to the next liminal[1] step; ascending through the apex of the indited moment of our lives.

In essence, to crossover from that state of “betwixt and between,”[2] and complete the next phase of our life’s narrative to the next intersection of recognition. Some of these men listed above, chose admirably, to not back down from their principles. Most of these men did not give into temptation of their egoism, they found their balance from within themselves; and, provided prophetic teachings to their followers.

They, the leaders of history, understood and transformed their personal dream into an archetype[3]of myth that deployed within their community, their society; a saga of “aspiration” of hope. Joseph Campbell spoke of Carl Jung’s distinction of the “two orders of dreams,” in that, the communal consciousness identifies with the charismatic leaders vision.

In the case of Socrates, his vision for a more virtuous man, a nobler person, with integrity, came at a time of conflict within his own community. This was true for Confucius, with the warring states of China; he tried to impart a humanitarian perspective to his people. It was true of Martin Luther, who felt that, Catholicism had lost its way. In the time of crisis for the American colonies, George Washington was present to father a country into a new idealism. However, such kinetic personalities have also been a detriment, they have painfully attributed to baneful ideals that dispensed suffering unto untold millions, with charismatic leaders such as Napoleon, and Adolph Hitler.

Each of these leaders was born during times of crises, their country, their communities, and their burden, suffered the strife of tribulations and yet through transformation of their will and charisma moved the culture to come. In the 20th century, these articulations help bore the next step in civil evolution, with the upheaval, for instance, in India, Britain, and America, led to the culling of new leadership: Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, and John F. Kennedy. As for Socrates, his unrepentant quest for discerning truth, and unapologetic avarice for knowledge led to his death. His respect, nonetheless, for the rule of law, to pay the price, embodied his sacrifice for his conviction. And, his example aided leaders to come, illustrated the unwavering tribute to the role of sacrifice, diligence, and honor. In Plato’s Apology, Socrates made clear his feeling when he espoused to the jury,

“I would rather die having spoken after my manner, than speak in your manner and live. For neither in war nor yet at law ought I or any man to use every way of escaping death.”[4]

In other words, Socrates felt the restriction of (what he perceived) as his free speech was tantamount to death. So he accepted his hemlock and died with the taste of it on his lips. Other heroic men, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., agreed with Socrates sentiment; for instance, in his letter from the Birmingham Jail, King says to his critics,’

“One may ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the Brat to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I agree with St. Augustine ‘an unjust law is no law at all’”[5]

Thus, what King was saying was that, natural laws of humanity preclude the immoral laws of sinful[6]man, and as such laws ought to be disobeyed when the action was just. However, unlike Socrates, King was not poisoned by the “establishment” but by a bullet from an assassin’s rifle.

And, unlike John F. Kennedy, who was also assassinated by the rifle, Socrates jurors were up close and personal, and the assailants took personal responsibility for their actions. But similarly, neither were either society that of ancient Greece, and 20th century was ready for the change of philosophy: in ancient Greece, Athenians were not ready for conflation of the “self-examining” man[7], or in the United States, the integration of ethnic groups and races.

Taking personal responsibility came after the deaths of these charismatic leaders: John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, for instance, were seen as martyrs only upon reflection as the citizenry later regretted its mistakes of its own self-embittered confliction. Only proving the point, as someone once said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doom to repeat it.” After all, upon the death of Socrates, his own betrayers saw the errors of their way; unfortunately, it has nearly been more than 2,200 years later and humanity has continually failed to learn the lessons of its past. Only today in the 21st century, we kill in the name for our greatest leader in Western-American culture, Jesus, spoiling his message of peace, tolerance, and love for the mere pittance of fifty pieces of silver; in our case, as some perceive, the United States was and has been corrupted for its pursuit for the world and the “precious” commodity of oil.

On the other hand, others see the United States as the great liberator whose quest for freedom, liberty, and justice can do no wrong; and, these pastimes, these equanimities, are righteous for all the citizenry of the planet. But the current leaders of fanaticism, such Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and Karl Rove, Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, Ralph Nader, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpeton are not only destabilizing and subverting the consciousness of America, but also contributing to the disintegration of core values: of understanding, compromise, and pragmatism. Americans used to be a forward looking nation (some say that we still are), but the transparency of truth indicates that we are incarcerated and trapped in the past.

Lost in nostalgia, of past days gone by, are only a selectively remembered of what we want to be true. Warring over ideals, beliefs that are squarely belong in the realm of personal liberty. Our loss of the principled man, person, if you will, untainted by the evils of power, money, and fanaticism, and lead the charge to the next civil evolution, to get beyond the rhetoric of polarized discourse, either does not exist, or has been lost in the saturation of media bombardment.

So, the challenge, and responsibility of all Americans is to remind their leaders that We the People are the government, not the lobbyists, not men and women consumed for the mission of power, but the people are rulers of their souls, their liberty, and their sense of justice until the next Socrates of the community consciousness steps forward and shines a bright future for us all.

[1] Victor Turner, a redound anthropologist, discourses on civilizations ebbs and flows of critical social epochs. His thesis, simply, that great events are enacted similarly to those of dramatics plays. Changes within the society become evolutionary or liminal, in that cultures are “neither here or there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention, and ceremonial. As such, their ambiguous and indeterminate attribute are expressed by a rich variety of symbols (my emphasis) in the many societies that ritualize social and cultural transitions.” In other words, the various human cultures find expressive anecdotic methods to sustain and create their own cultures; essentially, on a macro and micro level individuals and cultures find ways to transcend key moments within their lives. (See A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion, “Liminality and Communitas,” pp. 358-374).

[2] See Victor Turner paper in the “A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion,” pp 359.

[3] Carl Jung believed that an individual’s personal narratives are revealed through their dreams. He felt they, being our dreams, not only guides us through the cycle of lives, but enables us to process the information from the day events, in effect, “ the ‘dream language’ does; its symbolism has so much psychic energy that we are forced to pay attention to it.” In other words, when personal dreams become deployed within the community, it can be denied, or be accepted into everyone else personal archetype; thus becoming the society’s myth. See “Man and His Symbols” edited by Carl Jung and M.-L. von Franz, page 33.

[4]Quote taken from the Bedford Anthology of Western Literature Book one, “Plato: Apology,” p. 1105.

[5]This quote was from a letter that Martin Luther King Jr., wrote while he was in the Birmingham, Alabama jail, April 16th, 1963. He was responding to critical clergymen who felt his activities were not only unlawful, but discreditable because he was breaking the civil laws of the cities. In this letter, he justifies his rational as Socrates defended his position. See site of University of Pennsylvania – African Studies Center at http://www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

[6]I am using sinful as a descriptive term, and not to denote its religious context.

[7]See Plato: Apology in the Bedford Anthology of Western Literature Book one starting at page 1105.

Star Wars Versus The Matrix

June 7, 2005

Which Is Better Star Wars or Matrix Series?
By Greg Stewart

The other day I was listening to late night talk radio, when a subject came up, via a caller, the best science fiction movie or movie series ever—Star Wars or Matrix. As I listened, I thought of the differences between the two series, one being founded in humanity and the other being grounded in Christianity. Let me explain…

Although, Star Wars and Matrix have their own version of spirituality, they are primarily similar. This is what I mean, in 1977 a new era of mythology began, a way of storytelling, to encourage the youth of America to rescue a princess and save the day from a dark prince. It is a universal story, a young fatherless boy or girl goes in search of their future, only to find that the challenges before them are from within and their destiny is set along the path of lessons and epiphanies. In the case of Star Wars, it touched on the essences of human nature, both good and bad.

Thus, the setting of the Star Wars world is far into the future and seemingly magical and fantastic, which from the human perspective optimistic and filled with light. This is a projected world, a possible future to be divined, where humanity can obtain a fantastical modernity. This is the extensive view (Eller 2005) of humanity, where humanity heroes are foretold in the portended genre of science fiction. In other words, humanity’s savior of the crises is solved by the choices and the acceptance from within the heroes, instead of relying on an entity to rescue humanity from the outside.

In the Matrix, whose original concept was based on a combination of Japanese anime, with a mixture of science fiction and philosophy, and initially conceived as a comic book project (Andy and Larry Wachowski) set the course originality for a generation to conclude its ardor and illness for the end of the century malaise. As a result, the elements within the Matrix series setting, in principle, of humanity’s world view are intensive (Eller 2005).

Some of these intensive view’s features can be present tense, meaning the here and now, and it is generally expressed in the modernity of popular culture. However, within the last 25 years, some of these expressions, in the comic book world, have been relayed as post-modern, futuristic noir, or computer cyberpunk enabling the currents of culture to be extrapolated, examined, and reflected. In the terrain of these popular backdrops, humanity’ sins are shone as great; and, the heroes are failings are too great and too much for the human condition to solve.

Therefore, hero must either be perfect and invincible (think Superman) and rescue the planet citizens. Or, the hero is flawed, damaged emotionally by an event (think Batman, or Spiderman) and has to channel their angst and sense of responsibility to the greater good of the community. Thus, once again solving the tribulations of humanity and solving the problems of the human condition from the outside. In other words, a personal savior, who can “forgive” or “admonish” you through corrective measures to defeat whatever enemy or criminal; in order to bring forth a future utopia, at the least, for the “good people” and achieve their salvation.

In essence with movies such as Star Wars, the salvation from within the self is the message as well as the reflection of a universal mythology, which can be told over and over again—in a cyclical manner—within the human dynamic that all creeds, races, and cultures can identify equally with their own fables and stories. Whereas, admittedly, Matrix has its own mythology and universality, its dynamic; however, appeals to a restricted segment, grounded in, for the most part, western philosophy and Christianity and are eschatological; linear in nature.

This is what I mean, although cleverly devised in a cyclical presentation, movies such as the Matrix, have a devised end time. The hero is not only deemed to be perfect and performs miracles, but is also celebrated and anointed as the savior who will save humanity’s suffering from the outside evil force once and for all. Therefore, leading and leaving humanity to an epoch age of utopia.

On the other hand, Star Wars imparts that suffering can be conquered through the personal choices and resolved through the inner spirit of the human condition and does not require a personal savior to achieve one’s own personal bliss (Joseph Campbell). So, which was the best science fiction series for humanity? Both! In the end it is a matter of one’s perspective that ultimately chooses the vehicle that suits their own personal mythology—or narration.

Notes

I would like to acknowledge and thank Andy and Larry Wachowski, and George Lucas, without their inspiration, movies, and DVD’s featurettes there would not be this discourse. Furthermore, Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ book, “The Power of Myth” which aided my muse with clarity. And, finally Brian Penn and especially J. David Eller, for his inspiration and clarity of ideas and acknowledge culpability in the way of explanation of intensive and extensive examination of the human perspective. His mentoring and guidance along with insight has sparked many of my popular culture formulations regarding the vehicle of science fiction. As for Brian, my collaborator, my fellow conspirator, has helped with his own astute observations of popular movements.

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