What do you do?

The man in the video is Ray Gosling, a journalist, and BBC broadcaster. He recently admitted to having euthanized his lover who had been suffering from AIDS. The confession is linked here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKFehQYOEV0&feature=related

Gosling was arrested, and later released while the investigation remains open, after the BBC aired his confession. Furthermore, BBC claims to not have known the content of the show prior to it being aired.
In a situation such as this one; What do you do?

Let’s put it all into perspective, in hopes of understanding the moral dilemma Gosling found himself in.

His partner was suffering according to Gosling, and they (his lover and him) had an agreement about what Gosling had to do in the case that nothing more could be done to save his lovers life. Gosling understood his position and made a commitment to someone he loved. Now, none of us were there to witness the situation, or the amount of suffering Gosling’s lover was actually experiencing. But does our lack of understanding of the situation give us legitimate reasons to judge Gosling on his actions? Can we look at this situation through a morally objective lens? Or, should we be moral relativist in this kind of situation? It seems to be a tough decision to make, based on the situational circumstances.

Is it not wrong to kill a human being? Well, is it? Try to answer it yourself now; Under what circumstances, if any, would you kill another human being?

Gosling had an agreement with his lover. They agreed, as said by Gosling in the video, that if his situation got to the point where he was beyond help than Gosling ought to take his life to avoid his suffering. This is a widely known moral dilemma, basically; when is assisted suicide justified. Is killing another human being right, even with consent of the individual?

Does an individual not have autonomous right to decide what should become of his or her own life? I expect opinions on this will vary greatly, and as such there will never be a consensus as to whether assisted suicide, or suicide is morally right, or wrong. Some reasons as to why any type of suicide is considered wrong are clear. There are other individuals that will be affected by the event, family members, and other loved ones will surely be saddened by the loss of their loved one. But if it is the wish of the individual, who is to judge what becomes of their life.

Gosling did what he believed, at the time, was right. He prevented an individual a considerable amount of pain and suffering. Who would wish any pain, or any such suffering on anyone? No one should have to endure any suffering, especially to the extent that I am certain Gosling’s lover endured. This does not  mean that when one is in a state of suffering that we should opt out and have ourselves killed, rather it depends on the situation one finds him or her self in. In Gosling’s lovers case, he the lover felt no need to continue living with his pain. He had no way out of his predicament, he would have suffered all the way until death. Fine, he could have been given pain killers, and body numbing medication, but that would only prolong the inevitable. The inevitable he was surely aware of.

While being asked to take a loved ones life because they are suffering, and in pain is an issue that is most difficult to deal with. He was asked to take a life, and agreed to it. How could you say no when someone is in such a state of pain, and possibly asking for it to be done? This does not justify Gosling’s actions, but rather, consider that he was faced with a choice, a very difficult choice, in which he was witness to another human beings suffering, and surely it is not easy to watch someone suffer, so made his decision based on how he felt and it seems under good intentions.

But does good intentions make his actions justified? Ultimately, taking a human life is illegal, and morally wrong. As I would not want my life taken, so I would not take another.  But, I try to picture myself in Gosling’s situation and I find it very difficult to say no to assisting a loved one that is in pain. It is not as though Gosling was upset and angry at his lover, although we will never truly know if his lover requested to be killed or not, giving him the benefit of doubt he did what he believed to be morally right at the time. That is to end someones terrible suffering, at their own request. Whether he is, or is not arrested and sentenced to jail for murder is out of my hands surely but considering the dilemma he is describing, I might have done the same thing.

What would you do?

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~ by Peter on February 18, 2010.

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