The Beauty of Letting Go

There are some times when life is not about you, not about your faith, not about what you believe.

Take, for example, Grace Sung Eun Lee, a 28-year old New Yorker who has been paralyzed by terminal brain cancer. Her condition is so unbearable that she has repeatedly said, “I want to die.” Doctors say that she consistently asks that her life support systems be removed, and that she is in good enough shape to make rational judgments.

Despite this, the Christians in her community want her to go to Heaven. Her mother thinks she can get better. Her father is a pastor and thinks that pulling life support is suicide, and will send her straight to Hell. Her church has used young children to write supportive letters to her, asking her to “come back soon.” They have interfered at any attempts to fulfill her last wishes.

All of this takes place in a horrific pseudo-intellectually-religious culture that, even in places like my very secular alma mater, views atheism and humanism as antithetical to human dignity. I find the charges very disturbing, arrogant, ignorant, and hypocritical. The exact opposite is true.

Humanists believe in the value of human dignity, in the value of every sentient being to reduce suffering and make their own choices.

Humanists believe in respecting individual choices regarding end-of-life decisions. We believe that wishes should not be overruled by other people’s religious beliefs or dogmas.

Humanists believe every person has a right to die in dignity.

But of course, the choice is not easy to make for some people. A father and a mother will lose her daughter. A community will lose its cherished member. A group of people will lose a very good friend.

Yet, despite the sadness and the tragedy, sometimes, when you look far into the horizon, giving somebody that choice, respecting it, and letting someone go is one of the kindest, most humane, and most beautiful actions that we sentient beings are capable of.


Posted on October 4, 2012, in Humanism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Reblogged this on drndark.

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