Assisted suicide is as controversial in this country as it is in many other parts of the world. While nearly legal in three US. states under the Death and Dignity Act, the option to “opt out”, to relieve physical, or emotional suffering a bit ahead of schedule either by direct contact, or with the assistance at a distance of someone else, is a very old solution to our human problem and most likely dates to the beginning of mankind.
In ancient Greece, the death of trouble-maker philosopher Socrates is one such example. Socrates (469-399 BC) was Athens’ unofficial, unwashed, robe-wearing, stick-carrying guru. While an inspiration to his followers (Plato, among them), he was a philosophizing irritant to some of his fellow Athenians.
In 399, following an act of civil-disobedience, he was charged and convicted of the capital crimes of “irreverence” to the gods, and “corrupting” the minds of impressionable teenagers.
Given three options for punishment, with three probable consequences, he could:
1. Go into voluntary exile. (Which would rob him of his guru status among the young.)
2. Take his friends up on their offer to help him escape. (Which would make him look guilty of crimes he did not commit.)
3. Die by drink from a physician-administered hemlock.
(Which would allow him to bypass the decrepitude of old age, afford him the opportunity to converse in the underworld, and give his earthly followers the impression that he was a man of his convictions and a proper philosopher indeed.)
After some deep, philosophical reflection, Socrates made the professionally advantageous decision to opt out, by opting in for hemlock at #3. Leaving us to wonder if “An examined life is not worth living” either.
“Everything you can imagine is real.” —Pablo Picasso
This song was another from my 1992 release SAQQARA. The track showcases the harmonies of Kathy Elzey and Gail George, with Ray Elzey on guitar, and David Houston, as always, raiding the broom closet for things to jingle and smash.
When we found ourselves drummer-less at the onset of making this record we knew we were at a disadvantage. To compensate, we made the best of a bad situation and focused on what we deemed to be our strength, namely, our vocals. I’ve always had a soft spot for pop songs slathered in harmonies, so having two extra singers in the band—particularly ones as skilled as Kathy and Gail—was a bit of a dream. It made missing a drummer nearly tolerable—but only nearly. Though, we played and promoted SAQQARA for a couple of years, sadly, it was our last record together.
“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you, the less you know.”
In Rudyard Kipling’s children’s story “The Jungle Book” (1894), Mowgli, a small infant (man-cub), is taken from his parents into the jungle by the arrogant and sore-footed tiger Shere Khan. Little disturbed that hunting defenseless humans is against the law of the jungle, the hungry Shere Khan boasts he has killed a man in the past and is not adverse to doing it again, as it is his ancient birthright.
Despite Shere Khan’s ominous intention, Mowgli miraculously escapes and is adopted by a kindly wolf couple who want to protect him from the hungry tiger and raise him as their own with the rest of their wolf cubs. Of course, this causes the chop-licking Shere Khan great displeasure and he vows revenge on the little Mowgli.
As the story progresses, there are many tests upon the character of Mowgli until he is finally cast out of the jungle for being too human. When he returns to live among men, Mowgli soon realizes he doesn’t fit-in there either. He does not understand the caste system that makes some men more important than others. Nor does he understand the value of money, or the silly lies men tell about the creatures of the jungle who live just beyond their gates. When he succeeds in killing Shere Khan with a stampede of cattle, he expects to be lauded as a hero among the villagers. Instead, he is cast out again for being a “Sorcerer” and too much a wolf.
Oh, Mowgli, sometimes growing up is learning you are far more than society imagines you to be!