Can one loathe euthanasia and, at the same time, admire Jack Kevorkian , its most prominent advocate, for the strength of his convictions and commitment? In other words, what would it take to separate a person from a cause he represents?
As if our support of gay marriage, women’s choice, or assisted suicide turns us into fair open-minded people; and our opposition makes us good Christians, or whatever good we are aspiring to be. Or as if one could really judge intentions and talent of our politicians based on their yes-no answers in the scorecard of controversial issues.
Watching “You don’t know Jack”, a movie about the life of late Dr. Jack Kevorkian and assisted suicide, made me think about how our society deals with controversy. There are plenty of reasonable arguments about personal choice, freedom, god, sanctity of life and a role of a government in our lives. Controversy starts when contradictions among these arguments lead to moral and philosophical dilemmas. A myriad of positions on a controversial issue are based merely on which arguments are more important to different people.
Let’s take Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who performed 130 assisted suicides, challenging legal and social orders and became synonymous with the cause itself. For his supporters he is a hero. His opponents blame him for being negligent and consider him a serial killer . But outside of the labels, who is Jack Kevorkian? His interviews and art give a lot of material to start answering this question, and in my opinion, “You don’t know Jack” is a great attempt to understand his motivations, struggles, and the character.
As for my life and death, I have a clear point of view how I think those should go. However, as for everyone else’s, I’m the first to admit, I don’t know jack. In fact, I think the most productive way to start participation in a debate on a controversial topic is with “I don’t know.” This would allow some real dialogues and could lead to finding much more effective solutions for controversial issues, leaving us much less divided and more compassionate and accepting.
About the painting in artist’s words:
This depicts how most human beings feel about dying — at least about their own deaths. Despite the solace of hypocritical religiosity and its seductive promise of an after-life of heavenly bliss, most of us will do anything to thwart the inevitable victory of biological death. We contemplate and face it with great apprehension, profound fear, and terror. Sparing no financial or physical sacrifice, pleading wantonly and unashamedly, clutching any hope of salvation through medicine or prayer. How forbidding that dark abyss! How stupendous the yearning to dodge its gaping orifice. How inexorable the engulfment. Yet, below are the disintegrating hulks of those who have gone before; they have made the insensible transition and wonder what the fuss is all about. After all, how excruciating can nothingness be?