George’s malady reflects symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) that is a degenerative disease and affects the brain functioning of George. ALS has direct impacts on the nerve cells and spinal chord that is also linked to the muscles. The tests confirmed that George had ALS that poses risks of muscle weakness and other issues related to movement. The motor neuron of George exhibits risks of deterioration and muscle atrophy that is severe conditions can lead to death. There is no treatment available for ALS while the life expectancy is five to ten years. Further risks associated with the disease involve the inability to speak, eat and breathe. The malady does not affect other sensations including touch, taste, hearing, and smell. The treatment only slows the degenerative process but does not provide a permanent solution. The risks of physical disability are high, as George will need a wheelchair for moving. Losing mobility and speech are ordinary prospects of future. To avoid such pain and torture George seeks the option of voluntary euthanasia. Ending life decision puts the patient in a conflicting situation, as he needs to choose between right and wrong.
- Religion’s interpretation of condition
It is important for the patient to consider religious views when deciding about taking voluntary euthanasia. The two religions that explain the ending life decisions include Christianity and Buddhism. Both religions provide views that identify suffering as part of human life. The interpretation of George’s malady according to Christianity is a way of God’s test. Christianity presents two views regarding suffering; the first one associates the pain with sins as it identifies it as a punishment. God punishes humans by inflicting pain and suffering. The second view identifies suffering as God’s way of testing people and their endurance. Both views support the view the humans must not run away from pain but endure it. Sufferings work in a mysterious way taking people towards unknowable good. Bible mentions, Christians should rejoice in sufferings because it produces endurance, hope and character” (Roman 5:3-5). The quote from bible supports the view that suffering is to bring tolerance, which suggests a continuation of enduring pain. The meaning of suffering is also to seek trust in God and accept it as his decision. Redeeming suffering leads to transformation of humans, reflecting a strong side of pain.
Buddhism also promotes the concept of sufferings by recognizing it as a noble deed. Dhammapada mentions that “by oneself, the evil is done, and it is oneself who suffers; by oneself, the evil is not done, and by one’s self-one becomes pure” (Dhammapada). The text reveals that humans must accept sufferings because it is part of purifying oneself. Through sufferings and pain, one manages to attain highest forms of purity. Lama Surya Das mentions, “because there are myriad karmic causes conspiring to bring about any particular event, which then becomes a cause for other effects to take place” (Das). The comparison of Christian and Buddhism viewpoints depicts that the condition of George involves pain and sufferings, but the sufferings are to test him and his endurance.
- Value of life according to religion
Christianity and Buddhism discourage the decision of ending one’s life and represents strong views against taking one’s life. To respect life, George must continue with his life and not end his life. Buddhism confers the belief that it is immoral to take one’s life even if an individual suffers from pain or disease. Human beings must continue to suffer pain in pursuit of virtue and noble deeds. George must continue with the with the sufferings under the influence of religious teachings and its emphasis on respecting life. Buddhism is against the idea of ending life for overcoming pain and sufferings. George’s intentions of taking voluntary euthanasia reflect immoral act due to his decision of acting against God’s will. Buddhist teachings emphasize on respecting life and accept sufferings as part of God’s will. Christian view on life states that it is a gift of God and ending life is a sin according to the religion. God has the authority of giving life to humans, and he has the authority of taking lives. Bible mentions, “and if God were to withdraw his breath from humans, they would perish” (Job 34:14-15). Christianity denies the idea of ending lives irrespective of the sufferings and pain associated with it. Bible also recognizes the act of shedding blood as wrong and unethical. Teachings of Bible values the life of a person and stresses on living it until death. Both religions value life, and in George’s situation, they reject the idea of voluntary euthanasia. Ending life is an act against religious views (Cheng, 2017).
- Decision of euthanasia
The decision of voluntary euthanasia depends on the worldwide views of Christianity and Buddhism. Christian religion focuses on the teachings of Jesus, and it recognizes the existence of God. The religion associates the life of humans with God’s will and power. Without God’s will, humans never enter the world. He is the supreme authority for taking lives of humans. Humans have a responsibility to follow the teachings of religion and follow principles. Religious views restrict humans from ending life as Christianity recognize sufferings as part of human life. Christian views represent the belief that humans must live there lives as wholeness and emphasizes on the process of dying. The belief promotes the idea that humans must live their life until the end and undergo dying process created by God. The belief emphasizes the view that God has the authority of taking people’s life so acting against his will results in rejection of the belief. Christianity also recognizes the act of ending lives as sinful because God does not allow humans to take decisions regarding their living. They need to complete the lives that take them to unknowable good. Buddhism also rejects the idea of ending a life due to the pain and sufferings involved in the survival of George with ALS. One view of Buddhism supports the decision of euthanasia as it stresses on avoiding mistreating human body. Buddhists are against the idea of self-mortification and treating human body in a manner that results in pain and sufferings. The idea supports the killing of George because it ends sufferings (Stempsey, 1997).
- Moral interpretation
The decision of morality and immorality depends on the worldwide religious views. Christianity presents same solutions to deal with the sickness of George, but there are some contradicting views. The central view of Christianity on decisions of ending life reflects the role of God and his existence. Euthanasia is immoral under Christian views as it gives authority to humans regarding their life while religion states that only God can bring death. The view that sufferings lead to purity of humans and are God’s tool to assess human patience also recognize the decision as immoral. Buddhism represents different views regarding the decision of euthanasia. The act of taking life is unethical when it is for suffering because Buddhists believe that it leads to self-purity. According to Buddhism taking lives is unethical because the act is against the teachings of religion. According to the second vies that stresses on avoiding pain and mistreatment of human body choosing euthanasia are ethical. The option will prevent George from the sufferings and Buddhism is against the sufferings of humans. Christianity does not support the decision of euthanasia identifying the ending-life decision as unethical and wrong.
As I am a Christian, so my opinions reflect the influence of Christianity. I think Christian belief system is useful in understanding the importance of life and value of humans. The decision of ending life involves a complex debate as an individual engages himself in a conflicting situation. When I put myself in a situation of George, I can better understand the decision and identify how my religion would influence my decision. I believe that the desire of ending worldly sufferings reflects human weakness that is against the idea of Christian belief system. Christians must act in the best possible way that reflects the influence of religion. Acting against the religious ideology and belief system is wrong and sinful. I think that Christians must not think about the present world only but also about the secondary world. However, I believe that practically it is difficult for the people undergoing suffering to deny the option of euthanasia that leads to ending of pain. If I have to decide a nurse, I will leave the decision to the patient because it is their life and they have right to choose. If I were in the same situation, I would try to avoid pain and find an escape thus motivating me to choose euthanasia.
Christianity and Buddhism provide different views regarding the situation of George about ending life decisions. As George is a Christian so under religious belief system, he must not choose the option of euthanasia because it is against religion and teachings of the bible. The patient needs to consider the religion before deciding about taking euthanasia. Religion helps in determining an ethical course of action.
Cheng, F. K. (2017). Buddhist Insights into Life and Death: Overcoming Death Anxiety. Athens Journal of Social Sciences.
Stempsey, W. E. (1997). End-of-life decisions: Christian perspectives. Christ Bioeth, 3 (3), 249-61.