One of the most important, real safeguards against the perceived need for euthanasia is genuine friendship in which people demonstrate their appreciation of each other in practical, meaningful ways. The effects of good relationships is perhaps not fully appreciated.
A person who can realise and nurture significant relationships with others is less likely to feel isolation and loneliness and is less likely to succumb to pressure that may come from simply knowing the “choice” or “option” to die is available.
Yesterday, a relationship I am in seemed to change from a working, but warm familiarity, to a deeper friendship, hopefully bolstering both our mental defences.
It happened this way
I take a regular, long taxi-ride on Sundays, and have done for a few years now. In a small city where the quality of public transport is distinctly variable, a happy, regular and willing provider of such transport is a treasure.
Such a man is Stephen, who, finding I take this weekly trip, decided to take me on as his regular. Our conversations revolve around work, politics, family, health and the weather. Steven has difficulties with things too, and I don’t mind at all lending an open ear. We’re of one mind on a lot of things.
A couple of days ago, the gasket on Steven’s taxi blew. A disaster, putting the car off the road indefinitely. My own telephone has not been working either, so under our current arrangements Stephen had no way of contacting me to tell me the news. After all, what is the definition of a mobile telephone? A communications device that is either switched off, as far from its owner as possible, or both, at crucial moments.
Despite this, at the pre-arranged hour, there comes the customary knock at the door, but Steven, on the doorstep, is not dressed as usual. A pair of tracksuit pants cover what appear to be pyjamas. Indeed they are pyjamas!
What’s more, it’s not the usual taxi in the driveway, but a private car.
Steven tells me what’s happened to his taxi as we move comfortably on almost deserted streets. He says that waking up, he felt the a need to keep our appointment and avoid trouble, and also says, “Oh, it’s almost like we are friends”
And so it is.
I wonder how this will progress because of this incident, and think how our relationship can change from one in which a service is provided and used, to greater mutual giving and understanding. The call is not to be passive in all of this, but gradually realise the strength, possibilities and benefits of a friendship, and perhaps new ways of expressing our gratitude for one another’s part in it, if that is really what we want.
Surely, in realising the significance of each other as friends, with both saying “thank you” in word and deed, we set up a barrier to the chance of abandonment to isolation, loss and loneliness. The importance of this in combating any future perceived need for euthanasia, cannot be underestimated.