There is a right to live. And there is a right to die.
In the case of the right to live, things look more or less
straightforward, in the sense that Article 3 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights clearly stipulates that "Everybody
has the right to life, liberty and security of person" (while I
have to say that I think it rather odd to combine such disparate
concepts within the same article). And in Article 25 (never too
late), it is clarified that everybody has a right to an adequate
standard of living, "including food, clothing, housing and
medical care", and so on. We might call this a right to a
"decent" life. - What that means in practical terms when some
judicical court condemns a criminal to death, or when some
government sends its citizens to war and certain death, is
altogether a different story.
In the case of the right to die, things look less
straightforward. In most countries, the reasoning goes that
there isn't any such right, it's nature, or God, or fate, or the
doctors, or (bad) luck, or whatever, who decides when somebody
dies, but not the individual concerned. In some countries, there
exists a very restricted kind of "right" to die under certain
limited conditions, along the line: "Well, if you're so ill that
you're going to die anyway, we herewith grant you the right to
die." That's nice, but somehow not really to the point.
My last wish here on earth is that humanity at large grants the
unequivocal, unconditional right to die to every person
(including me, of course...) who chooses to die by his own free
will, at the moment of his choice, and by the method of his
We have learned to assume responsibility for our own life. When does this responsibility end?
It is my firm conviction that it is an absolute and fundamental,
unconditional human right that people may choose their own moment of
death, if they so wish.
Death is part of life, it is the last act of living on this
earth, so to say. So, if we're really serious about assuming
full responsibility of our own life, we should have the courage
to also assume full responsibility of our own death.
During my travels around the world, I came across the religeous
community of the Jains. Jains (like Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs)
believe in reincarnation, whereby a person is reborn after
death, and the merits and demerits of his former life define the
fate of his new life.
For Jains, the ultimate purpose of life is to break through this
circle of endless reincarnations, and to reach a state of
eternal freedom - freedom from pain and suffering - freedom from
wants and desires - a heavenly bliss that they call Nirvana, or
Moksha. And they have developed a pretty smart technique to
reach that goal with a minimum of effort, and with no risks
attached. They simply decide to starve themselves to death. The
argument is simple enough: Since the main reason to reincarnate
is the desire to live (meaning, in its most basic form, to eat
and drink), the solution not to reincarnate is to stop eating
This technique of starving oneself to death is called Santhara.
Now, I'm not a Jain, nor do I intend to become one. In fact, I'm
quite un-religeous, even though of course I am very much
interested in religions and their aspirations. But I must
confess that this Jain technique of starving oneself to death
has cought my attention, I honestly think that this is one of
the most honorable, dignified, worthy methods of ending one's
life in a self-determined, strong, willful, responsible way,
causing no harm to anybody, but marking a strong sense of
purpose and responsibility at the end of a fulfilled life.
It is my wish to die by Santhara, at a moment of my choice. This
is my last wish on earth.
In the name of Peace and Justice, thank you!