Monday, February 7, 2011

The Freedom to Do Laundry

Joe Huffman quoted an editorial that compared gun owners to rabid dogs, and advocated for removal of freedoms, in the interest of public safety.  The subject made me think of the circumstances of my Dad's death--it seems that so many things do right now--so I made the following comment:

I lost my father about two and a half weeks ago, and I've been through a lot of grief since then. He fell down the stairs and hit his head, and then died from hemorrhaging of the brain. He had a stroke four years earlier, which probably contributed to his loss of balance, and he had blood thinners, which made it difficult to control the bleeding.

It is natural to rhetorically say "we should ban stairs!", to mock gun-control activists. Obviously, we shouldn't, because stairs give us far more convenience than the danger presents.

But, in my grief, I found myself asking "What was my family thinking? Why were they allowing my Dad to carry his laundry up the stairs?!? With his stroke, it's practically inevitable that he'd fall down like he did!!!" It can reasonably be argued that, because of his stroke, he shouldn't have been allowed to take risks like going up and down stairs, or exploring the Salt Lake valley via walking, bus, light rail, and train.

Then again, after his stroke, my Dad lost the ability to work--to design, build, and repair electronics circuits, in particular--but even to write computer programs, or to tinker in general. In many ways, simple things like doing his own laundry, or wandering the Valley, were the last few dignities that my Dad still had. And I'm inclined to think that, had we taken even those away, he may have simply just lost the will to live...and whether or not he would have lived longer, it would have been even worse for him.

It seems that too many people are eager to take away our freedoms, so that we could all be "safe"...but these people never seem to consider what the removal of these freedoms will do to our dignity, or our will to live--or even whether or not they actually make us safer.

And I, for one, am tired of sacrificing liberty for the illusion of security.
In the debate on gun control, it seems that gun-totin' folk are so ready to say things like "Should we ban stairs, to keep people from falling down them?"; the question is usually rhetorical--and it's easy to forget, in its rhetorical nature, that sometimes banning stairs isn't always rhetorical!  We have to ask ourselves:  is the risk that we may get hurt, worth the freedom to take that risk?

If I remember correctly, something like this is written in my little notebook--the one that contains "stream of consciousness" thoughts about my father's death--so this may be the first such thought shared from those little bits.  Ironically, I expected my first such posting to be cynical thoughts about health care!

As a side note:  in my observations, I noted how my Dad went up and down those stairs even before the house had a first story.  The house was built over twenty-five years ago, and while we were waiting for it to be finished, my Dad would take us to see it, and took pictures of it in its various stages.  I was about 8 or 9 at the time, and I enjoyed these visits.  Oh, how life has changed since then!

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