On a recent visit home, I asked my daughter Grace to share with me some of her writings. Grace is a prolific writer, but she can be very private about her work. She has several drafts of works in various genres: historical fiction, fantasy, contemporary fiction… and I’ve read snippets, but when I asked if she would share them, she replied, “They are not ready.” My sense is that Grace is an even more ruthless editor than I am and, unlike me, is leery about giving birth to a piece of writing before its time.
But she did agree to share with me some writing she is doing for a course she’s working on at home. The subject is “20th Century History”. When she told me the course title my first thought was, “The 20th century isn’t history! I lived through it.” The course design is to read some of the best fiction and non-fiction books depicting each decade. She then writes theme papers on certain books and summary papers on each decade. Grace agreed that I could reproduce her work on my blog. The following is one of her essays.
The Metamorphosis and Euthanasia
By Grace Roberts
The Metamorphosis was one of the most interesting books I have read in a while. Also, one of the most disturbing. It reminded me a good deal of All Quiet on the Western Front – perhaps the similarities are due because both were written in German around the same time; and the content is disquieting. Both do not hide unpleasantries. Both are superbly well-written. Both deal with death.
Which brings me to the reason for this paper. It was my assignment to tie The Metamorphosis with euthanasia. While the story doesn’t directly deal with “mercy killings”, it brings up a side of death that is not nice. What should happen when someone is unable to enjoy life anymore? When their sufferings have become too great? What about if they are also a drain on society? And they are dying anyway? Should they be endured, or “put out of their misery”? When is it mercy, when is it killing? Is there a way to tell?
Franz Kafka did not seek to answer any questions, only ask them. I myself don’t know the answers; it’s a topic that is beyond me. But God has been pretty clear on some major things. He created life. It is sacred, not something to be taken lightly. He is also love. His way of loving is completely opposite of our preconceived notions. We seem to think an object of affection must have value to be desirable. God doesn’t think that way. He calls the things that are not as if they are. He gives value. He tenderly takes care of things that, if we could see what He does, would be repulsed. He endures with everlasting patience and love. We need to keep that in mind when we talk about the sanctity of life.