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On my late mother's 89th birthday
Posted by Tony on 23rd March 2014 at 15:27:52
In itself, dying is not a kind of suffering, though it may be for those who feel close to the deceased, those "left behind".

Yes, it is easy to feel sad for unrealised possibilities. Be sorry for yourself, but not for she whose suffering may have ended, or who may not have suffered at all, leaving us feeling somehow cheated.

Be wary of those who demand dragging out death due to outdated Cartesian dualism that once appeared to rationalise religious nonsense, or so as to maximise their fee bookings. Their care isn't for the dying.

It is suffering while alive that matters, not something in the moment of death that trumps all else. Oppose and end factory farming. Take Temple Grandin's advice on how to run your slaughterhouse. But don't try to tell all the fish in the ocean that they have to henceforth graze seaweed so they can eventually die of drawn out debilitation.

Yes, please, do continue reducing the inclination to war, murder and other forms of violent death to our fellow humans that Pinker has observed and which look like an important transition to a new world of possibility. And do extend these as deeply as possible into other species. Don't kill great whites, nor starve them. Accept there will be conflicts we cannot romanticise away.

The challenge of this transitional moment of social development is that we don't live near long enough to turn lessons that take a (current, active) lifetime to wider benefit. Old lives are masterpieces thrown on bonfires, but that too has seeds of change. We just need to trust those seeds don't germinate before the likes of Rupert are gone.

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