Spirituality for Today – April 2014 – Volume 18, Issue 9

Fatal Euphemisms

Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A photo of a human figure with arms spread out against a vivid sunset

In the art of advertising and political persuasion, the use of the "euphemism" to make a product or a policy more appealing to the consumer or to the general public has been a long standing practice. Usually, the nastier the topic, the more pleasant, the euphemism will be. The legality of Assisted Suicide is a current candidate for euphemizing. Ah yes, there is nothing like dying with dignity or seeing the end of one's life as an act of personal freedom. Why would anyone desire to be living in pain or to become a burden to their family if one can employ a physician to help one painlessly and easily drift into eternity? No matter that pain can be managed and that those whom one has loved might be denied the dignity of loving the person in return, it's that person's life. Isn't it?

Why limit such a useful tool to long–term or terminal diseases when there are a variety of social ills that can benefit from it. It would be easy to create a government agency that could handle such a large undertaking. I ran across a beautifully euphemistic title: Charitable Foundation for Curative and Institutional Care. Now, who can argue with the work of such a benign sounding agency? Realizing how merciful it is to end the suffering or depression of someone through the helpful application of a life–ending drug, why should others, who do not fit into society, be denied this glorious opportunity? The mentally ill, for example, would be relieved from a life that is unworkable or even dangerous to self and others. Criminals of every stripe would exit society and "good riddance" to them. Those who are mentally or physically challenged might as well take advantage of delivering themselves from such a "challenging" existence. The poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized, the unintelligent, the unattractive ought to realize that life is not worth living and to end it all in a dignified manner. Think of all of the billions in tax dollars that would be saved. Doesn't that make sense? Shamefully and disturbingly, to a degree it would have an appeal to many in society – especially a secular one. Historians and some others might have recognized the "Charitable Foundation for Curative and Institutional Care" as the entity established by Adolph Hitler to "euphemistically" exterminate over 250,000 persons who simply, in their estimation, were not "worthy of Life."

As of this writing, only a very few states have legalized physician–assisted suicide, but along with a number of other morally unacceptable policies, further legalization might occur. At the core of this issue is the culture of death spoken of so eloquently by the late, saintly Pope John Paul II. Human life has become a fairly devalued commodity within the global conscience. This situation is not without precedence in world history and, I fear, that it will be an issue that will continue to be a concern in the future.

As assisted suicide becomes legal, the weakest members of our society – especially those who are sick and aged – will now have an option to painlessly and legally end their lives. Never mind that ethical pain management is readily available; it might be too costly or time–consuming… When assisted suicide is legal, might not some families subtly (or directly) encourage a dying member to go ahead and finish it off? How about the abandoned elderly? Why not offer an easy way out? Alarmist, perhaps, but let's call a spade a spade. Physician–assisted suicide is a step we should not be taking. It is morally wrong. After all the inconvenience of death is part of the mystery of life.

John Feister, St. Anthony Messenger

A secular world is a world of power politics and the survival of the fittest. The right to life would belong to those who can defend themselves or are part of the ruling force of a nation. Utilitarianism would be the primary moral dogma and self–interest the great commandment. The irony is that these aspects of life are fitting and good if applied within a context of faith and morality. If not, then it will be perpetrated through guile and the employment of fatal euphemisms.