Death and Dying
Nature of George’s Malady and Suffering
According to the Gospel According to John 4:24, God created other spiritual beings such as angels and some beings that have both spiritual and material aspects – the people. Therefore, on the one hand, Christianity would consider George’s situation a natural one sent to test his faith in God, and that it is up to God to heal him. On the other hand, Buddhism believes in the existence of a superior final reality that covers the material world and beyond it. The reality is undefinable in human terms and is a severe manifestation of oneness. Buddhists believe that there exists a supernatural being, but they do not believe in God who is an omnipotent personal creator. Therefore, the Buddhists would consider George’s situation as an act of natural catastrophe and that being in oneself would help him to heal. Suffering is part of people’s nature and should be accepted, despite the scientific judgments, as religious doctrines dispraise the acts of voluntary euthanasia.
George’s Value of Life
According to Christianity, on the one hand, God creates human beings in his image and likeness. People have a personality, intelligence, morality, and creativity. God knows of His existence and so does the human. Christians believe that God has a personality, intelligence, and the capacity for reason, knowledge and people, in their turn, should value their lives just as much as God values them. Therefore, George’s analysis of his life, before and after being diagnosed with ALS, should not change. He ought to continue loving and appreciating himself till his final breath (Morrow, 2015). On the other hand, Buddhists, believe that living expresses the impersonal life force that works together with cosmos towards oneness. Suffering is the natural to individuals, and humanity has a purpose to work towards escaping the pain (Sivaraman & Noor, 2016). Therefore, the Buddhists would urge George not to change his perception of the value of his life with or without the illness.
Values to Consider
The Christians believe that every person dies and only after they face judgment. Death is the beginning of the eternal existence. The Christians believe that they should not fear death, as it is a passage to the afterlife; nonetheless, the death should not be a self-induced one (Lew, Arbauh, Banach, & Melkus, 2015). Many Christian schools argue that self-assisted death (in this case using euthanasia) should not be used and that it ought to occur naturally. The Buddhists believe that when one dies his or her life revives to some other form such as animals, divine being or human depending on how people behaved in their previous lives. These people aim at attaining nirvana. Most Buddhists, just like Christians, stand against voluntary euthanasia and would discourage George from participating in it.
Christianity believes that God is the standard of morality and that He is the one who created everything and gave decrees followed by his creations (Lew et al., 2015). Morality is objective and absolute things have a compromise in the society, but this does not mean they are right. The Christians believe that God has a good character that both loves and blesses people in their life, including discouraging acts of killing and suicide (Rolantová & Tóthová, 2014). In Buddhism, the cosmos is perfect at every moment. Moral absolutes do not exist, and, therefore, both good and evil are an illusion. Cosmos operates through a particular process, and if humans live in that process, they will not experience enlightenment due to the accumulated bad karma (Sire, 2015). To avoid the latter one should treat others right, preserve the environment, and protect life.
According to Christianity, the history of humanity is linear, it is a sequence of meaningful events that are leading to the fulfillment of the purpose God has assigned to the humanity. The second coming of Jesus Christ is the height of everything that happens to the Christians who believe that they exist for a reason, which is God’s purpose (Rolantová & Tóthová, 2014). Therefore, according to them, George is ill for a reason, as they believe that there are reasons and objectives for suffering. Suffering was never God’s intention to the people, but resulted from the disobedience of our first parents and became a burden every individual has to bear in their lifetime (Lew et al., 2015). God uses suffering to bring good. Many people seek God especially when suffering, and so God uses suffering to draw people to Jesus Christ.
Buddhists think that time is also an illusion. Cosmos exists in eternity. Each existence continues through death and rebirth keeping a sense of self that attaches the individual to the world. The material world does not lose its cyclical pattern even on achieving nirvana after quenching the person’s desire (Sire, 2015). At the cold reality, any meaning is meaningless and thus the cycle goes on without meaning. Moreover, the Buddhists believe that suffering has some noble truths. It is removable when one decides to get free from the desire or the attachment. The Buddhists believe in avoidance of the extreme of self-indulgence and self-mortification. Nonetheless, some of them trust that when one is in great agony, hastening his or her death on his or her consent or after consulting with the doctors is an act of compassion, and, consequently, George can opt for euthanasia (Le, 2016).
The Christians have a strong belief that only God is the giver of life and only He can take life away, that is why they oppose euthanasia. The various Christian-considered options that are morally justified and are available to George are to continue with the medication while at home while praying for a less painful death. This is a cheaper option that George should consider in case the family is not stable financially. The Christians believe that prayers are a powerful tool that connects the humankind with God and that people should never fall in despair. Another option for George is to stay at the hospital receiving the treatment while the family visits and prays for him. This expensive option can help, especially when one is financially stable.
The Buddhists, in their turn, do not believe in taking away someone’s life, although they consider compassion as one of the greatest values. George, in this case, is suffering from ALS and has some difficult time. The Buddhists believe that the ill person deserves some compassion (Thanissaro & Kulupana, 2015). Euthanasia may be the best act of kindness to George. Two options are available to him, according to the Buddhists, which are morally justified. The first one is that George himself should accept his suffering until his death. The second option is that the doctors and the family should discuss and consider euthanasia without George’s knowledge (this is in accordance to the Buddhists who support euthanasia).
I am of the opinion that suffering occurs in many various forms, for example ALS, from which George suffers. Nonetheless, he should decide to live out the rest of his life until the end and should not consider the euthanasia. Even though George may at times experience pain, his doctors should prescribe pain medications to assist with it and even administer home care to reduce hospital costs.
Morally, certain death assistance is justifiable, for example, the passive euthanasia. However, there are many issues on whether or not to end someone’s life. Many doctors and pediatricians believe that euthanasia should occur after the patient’s consent. However, such views differ when dealing with persons in the religious sector. For instance, the Christians and their theologians believe that voluntary euthanasia is a form of suicide. It is, therefore, not a legitimate means of death. Furthermore, they believe that illnesses and suffering are part of nature and God’s plan to test people’s faith in Him. Therefore, the Christian doctrines encourage such kind of pain, urging individuals that they should accept it to their death. The Buddhists, in their turn, believe that life is a continuous process, and that suffering and illnesses are challenges people have to go through to test the strength of their beliefs. Buddhism and its doctrines advocate for the upholding and preservation of life, urging its followers to abstain from acts such as voluntary euthanasia.