Yana Djin

  Profit of Living
Moscow News, December 2000


The past several weeks America has been busy with the circus of this year’s Presidential elections. The two clowns-contenders for the President’s post are staging such a ruckus that no one here takes notice of events outside the greatest democracy on the planet. For example, when several weeks ago Netherlands came to a historic decision to legalize voluntary euthanasia, the newspapers printed this story in small print in the most obscure section. Admittedly, there was a small demonstration held by twenty or so overweight housewives in Ohio who belonged to a Moral Christians for Life organization, but they were so ghastly looking that the US television viewers immediately switched channels, neutral to the fact whether the twenty or so fatsos lived or died.

As for the overfed zealots, they were told by the local police to scatter home and take care of their suburban dwellings because their fervent outcries against euthanasia and “killer doctors” are hardly going to make an impact on the Dutch parliament. “Just be happy that you live here in America, where every vote counts,” the patriotic officers reminded the dispersing ladies of the church. Speaking of the latter, it remained faithful to its time-honored tradition of voicing unsolicited opinions which appeal neither to rational common sense nor to mercy. The Vatican issued a puzzling statement in which it called upon the Dutch Christians to abandon the practice of “voluntary suicide because it is up to God to decide when the life of a human being should end”.

It is truly amazing how much the spokesmen for the Catholic Church are starting to sound like George W. Bush. In fact, so much so, that I am starting to believe that the church’s Jesus along with Ronald Reagan did indeed change George W’s life! It is about time for the Vatican to fire its antiquated speechwriters and hire some tongue- snapping lawyers who are, due to their professional requirements, aware of the objective reality. If the Vatican servants of god were to venture further then the limits of their Holy City, let us say in the northern direction towards Holland, they would immediately notice that the number of practicing Christians in every major Dutch city hardly exceeds the number of Christ’s apostles. Therefore, their protests would prove useless. Secondly, someone should remind these brilliant logicians that suicide is and has always been voluntary by definition and that it is about time that god, if he actually does exist, and apparently the Dutch think otherwise, should start preoccupying himself with improving people’s lives rather than blessing them with terminal diseases and then getting offended when these people return his ticket. Besides, for a sect that has been drilling everyone’s brains for centuries with tales of eternal life, the Catholics are dubiously over-concerned that some poor soul would want to meet with the creator earlier than the latter remembers to summon him.

The Vatican would have better luck propagating its views with the American Medical Association than with the historically liberal Holland. The AMA strongly opposes the practice of euthanasia even in the cases of hopelessly ill patients whose predicament leaves no doubt whatsoever that they are suffering humiliating physical pain. However, unlike the Catholic Church which appeals to the invisible god for the logical support of its argument, the AMA, being the good, old , American institution, bases its decision on the more tactile deity: money.

Euthanasia would take away millions of dollars that hospitals and private practices gather each year from patients and insurance companies. It is simply un-American to sacrifice great amounts of cash no matter what the alternative is. “We will not evict our patients from the sanctity of life,” according to one New York doctor’s sentimental wording. I would be very touched indeed if it were not for the fact that in this country no one wants to remember about the sanctity of life when it comes to evicting people, even the terminally ill, from their apartments if they miss one month’s rent. In light of the latter, I am neither convinced of the sincerity nor impressed with the soft-heartedness of American doctors. In the country where you have to go through three-week evaluation that costs thousands of dollars to get a simple root-canal done, and where Jewish merchants sell Zen love beads to agnostics for Christmas, it becomes very hard to believe in the sincerity of any altruistic or even moralistic statement.

Euthanasia, or assisted suicide, should not, in my opinion, be punishable by law. After all, if I were the suffering patient living where I am living now – in America – the alternative would be very easy for me: I would simply opt for an un-assisted suicide. Come to think of it, I would opt for the second choice even if I were to live in Holland, for the last thing I would want to see as I were to leave this world would certainly not be the white-robed Dr. Hans Van der Something injecting a lethal concoction into my veins and mumbling something soothing in Dutch. Instead, I would muster up the last remaining grains of strength and take a cab to Amsterdam’s Red District. There, I would purchase all kinds of hallucinatory plants, (preferably those that smoke) and pass out on the midst of society’s “scum” who, unlike large percentage of Hippocrate’s followers, don’t get paid for being scum.

Or perhaps I would be bitten by the bug of indecision when it came down to the form of suicide. Perhaps, as I’d sit there inebriated by the smoke of pot and smell of beer, I would recall the lines from Dorothy Parker who thought about and practiced the art of un-assisted suicide several times in her sad and complicated life: Razors pain you;

Rivers are damp;

Acids stain you;

And drugs cause cramp.

Guns aren’t lawful;

Nooses give;

Gas smells awful; You might as well live.


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