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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Boomers Too “Special” to Die Naturally?



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Oh good grief. We Baby Boomers are such a pain. It’s always about us: Me. Me. Me. 

And now, according to Time, we are supposedly going to change “how we die.” From, “A Good Death: How Boomers Will Change the World a Final Time.”

For eons, folks grew old, endured the symptoms, and died when it was their time—according to God’s will, some would say, even if it involved fighting through lingering illness, pain and suffering, or years of mental or physical incapacitation. A “good” death was about having lived long enough to see grandchildren, put one’s affairs in order, and pass away surrounded by a loving family.

Well, that’s because earlier times did not have the medical means to do otherwise. But supposedly, now we are different:

Boomers don’t see it that way. To them, a good death is more about a good life. When they can’t have that any longer, it’s time to pull the plug. This will be the first generation to broadly eschew painful life-extending procedures and make the most of palliative care to live better in fewer days, and then die with dignity.

But that’s not true. Hospice, which allowed for this approach, has been with us for more than forty years. My dad died in 1984 under hospice care, eschewing life-extending treatment and dying pain free from metastatic colon cancer. We Boomers aren’t pioneering this approach in the least!

But here is where things could get dangerous. Apparently to “die with dignity” is to kill ourselves: Boomers are supposedly going to lead the way into assisted suicide:

Suffering people have long sought an early end, of course, and many have done so quietly—or not so quietly in the case of patients of euthanasia advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian. But we are now seeing the beginnings of a broad movement that will change the game for good. “People are starting to think about aid-in-dying as the next civil rights movement,” says Goldstein. “Death with dignity is the final frontier of human rights and freedom of expression.”

So what was once a taboo subject—how to die—is now in open discourse. The death café movement encourages people to meet and discuss the concept of a good death. This dialogue is being fed in part by less rigid adherence to organized religion, which has strong views surrounding death and dying, and advances in medicine and technology that make it easier to feel you can control pain and symptoms and the way you die.

Okay. I get it. Nothing new here. Just tired advocacy for assisted suicide masking itself as the newest news about the Boomers.  

Boomers are not a great generation. To the contrary, we did shamefully little considering how much we were given. Too busy patting ourselves on the back, perhaps, and breaking the china.

Frankly, I think we are going to leave quite a mess. And if we do open the spigots to assisted suicide, it will be to our everlasting shame. 



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