This quote was contributed by my brother, Darrell Holbrook.
Joycelyn Elders, president Clinton’s surgeon general.
“…most of the people that die with heart disease and cancer are our elderly population, you know, and we all will probably die with something sooner or later.”
Most of us hope to die later rather than sooner. The idea of a “full life” is quite appealing. It seems that there is much less sympathy for an elderly person dying as opposed to a child or anyone short of 40.
Granted, many older people who are in the throes of diseases such as heart disease and cancer will tell you they are ready to die and wonder why they are allowed to drag on and on.
Tell me, at what age is it categorically expected that you have lived long enough and your passing is not as important as someone younger? Many people would choose the biblical estimate of “3 score and ten” or 70 years.
My father is 80 years old. He is in great health and takes a long exercise walk every day. He has been happily married to my mother for well over 50 years and has many things to look forward to.
Does his 80 years mean that it is more fitting for him to pass on than the average 20 year old? As a son who loves him and my mother both, it is easy to say no to this, but a yes may easily come from someone who doesn’t know him or the amazingly influential life he has lived.
The aforementioned 20 year old could be a rapist or murderer. Or a minister, or a person who may have been president. What if they were doing something truly stupid that led directly to their death and maybe one or two others in the bargain?
All this being said, what right do we have to decide who actually “deserves” to live and die?
We really don’t mean to be cruel, but it is so easy with strangers to draw generalities and give the thumbs up or down, like in the Roman games.
Human life at any stage is sacred. Old or young, we all want to live, and have a primeval imperative to want life to continue.
There is also the issue of what a person could accomplish if they did live. Whatever your feeling on abortion, a cartoon I saw can offer food for thought. It had a man shaking his fist toward heaven, yelling, “….and why haven’t you sent us a cure for cancer?” Then a voice came out of the cloud that said, “I did, but you aborted it.”
Human potential is amazing at all ages. Let’s all work together to maximize it, no matter how old or young a package it comes in.
Check out my podcast at daggersofthemind.com