I realized something recently. I can read a book that espouses views opposite of mine and more often than not, my position is strengthened. I recently read Jojo Moye’s Me Before You. This is a book that was recommended to me. And one with a timely theme. Assisted suicide.
It’s about a young man with a powerful career and a love for wild and daring adventures. But it’s crossing the street that changes his life. He’s hit by a car and left a quadriplegic. An unemployed waitress who does more than her fair share of supporting her family becomes his caregiver with a 6-month contract. One that she learns will be terminated when he travels to Switzerland to end his life.
As I often do with stories, I became invested in the characters. By the end, you can see both how the main characters’ lives could be “improved” by the young man’s demise but also how devastating it would be. The case is also made for him to learn to live his new life versus living in extreme pain with many medical concerns. He believes can’t cope with his limited life after living a “full” one.
I checked the book out of the library and it came up in the queue a couple of weeks ago when Brittany Maynard’s story of her planned suicide on November 1 hit the news. I was sad to learn that she did follow through with her plans and ended her life earlier this week.
There is a part of me that doesn’t want to see people suffer. Is it selfish for a loved one to want to hold on to someone longer as they’re dying a slow and painful death? Is life worth living if you’re physically and/or mentally incapacitated? Is the person in so much pain and misery that living is agony?
Those all seem to be valid arguments. But a bigger part of me sees assisted suicide as the easy way out. There are those who are left behind. Family, friends, loved ones. The belief every single living person has a purpose. Whether it’s large or small God has a reason for them to be here.
This particular book bothered me in that the main character had an injury similar to Joni Eareckson Tada, one of the people I most admire. She’s someone who’s lived with a disability longer than I’ve been alive, and she’s touched and inspired so many lives because of it.
If there’s one thing I’m passionate about is that every person is fearfully and wonderfully made. God created each and every one of us for a purpose. To choose to exit this life short circuits His plan.
To that end, I read Me Before You and rather than sway me to the idea of “death with dignity”, it strengthened my belief in the sanctity of life.
Have you ever read a book on a controversial subject and if so, did it change your opinion?