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You Don’t Know Jack August 27, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Health & Wellness, Life Balance, People.

Watched another thought-provoking film this week ~ You Don’t Know Jack.

The documentary addressed the efforts of Jack Kevorkian to assist terminally ill patients to end their lives with dignity.

He believed that we should have the freedom to choose to die when we’ve had enough . . . without having to shoot ourselves, dowse ourselves with gasoline, slash our wrists, strangle ourselves, wrestle crocodiles, or dive off buildings or bridges without a safety net.

Just breathe . . . relax . . . and check out in peace.

Aah . . . that’s better!



1. Silver in the Barn - August 27, 2014

I know this subject evokes such passionate feelings, both pro and con, but when my times comes, I hope to check out under my own terms.

nrhatch - August 27, 2014

Me too. People should be able to die with dignity on their own terms, not be forced to suffer for months with no quality of life due to pain or terminal illness.

2. Val Boyko - August 27, 2014

Thank you for your chutzpah Nancy!
I too would like to choose when my last exhale will be.
Val x

nrhatch - August 27, 2014

We have to let go of black and white thinking ~ the all or nothing approach ~ and find a middle ground. So many people are begging for the chance to breathe their last.

We should accommodate their desire to die. In peace.

3. Jill Weatherholt - August 27, 2014

It seems cruel to let terminal patients suffer, sometimes for months. I supported his efforts and believe his motives were based on compassion.

nrhatch - August 27, 2014

Al Pacino does a terrific job of portraying Kevorkian ~> in the behind the scenes, Kevorkian says, “Pacino looks more like me than I do.”

In one of the courtroom scenes, Pacino/Kevorkian says, “Why do I do this? I’m selfish. I want the right to die with dignity when my time comes.” But it was more than that. He and his sister Margo watched their mother die a slow, agonizing, and prolonged death for no good reason.

Why should we have to stick around for no good reason?

4. Pix Under the Oaks - August 27, 2014

I want to check out on my own terms too. I also believe his motives were were based on compassion.

nrhatch - August 27, 2014

Kevorkian helped patients die with dignity. In the process, he spotlighted the issue to bring about long-overdue change.

He could have done it “under the radar” to avoid prosecution, but he didn’t feel that patients should have to hide in the shadows. He ended up in jail when he decided the wheels of justice were turning too slowly. He was a brave man with strong convictions.

5. NancyTex - August 27, 2014

Canada’s current laws (banning physician-assisted death) are being challenged as we speak. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/08/25/supreme_court_should_back_assisted_suicide_says_dr_donald_lows_widow.html

It’s just ridiculous that people here are losing quality time by having to fly to Switzerland (when they are physically still able to do so) to die with dignity. If they could make the choice to go when they wished, in their own country, imagine how much more time they might have with their loved ones.

nrhatch - August 27, 2014

It is ridiculous that we don’t have the right to die with dignity without flying halfway around the world. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the Canadian Supreme Court comes down on the side of the individual’s right to choose.

And that the U.S. Supreme Court follows suit.

6. Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com - August 27, 2014

Hi NR! I saw that movie a couple of years ago and thought the same thing. While I suppose there is the possibility that some people would abuse the “right” to assist others to pass, Jack sure wasn’t one of him. The movie shows just how compassionate he was about the process. It also shows it isn’t an easy or careless decision–the process is compassion in action.

nrhatch - August 27, 2014

The film had a stellar cast ~ Pacino’s portrayal of Kevorkian made me forget I was watching a movie.

In the film, Kevorkian and his team personified compassion in action, encouraging people to wait to die if they still enjoyed some quality of life while helping others to die with dignity.

We should have End of Life Clinics where people can end a life that is devoid of quality and filled with agony.

7. clarbojahn - August 27, 2014

I, too, am convinced Jack was motivated by compassion. And like those above hope I get to die on my own terms. Maybe by then policy will have changed enough to allow it. If people want change they need to let our policy makers know.

Thanks, Nancy

nrhatch - August 27, 2014

Thanks, Clar. Those who oppose euthanasia and doctor assisted suicide often do so out of fear ~> they are afraid of death. That makes little sense to me. Death is not scary. Dying a painful and agonizing death from terminal illness . . . that’s scary.

The more compassionate we are, the faster the laws will change.

8. In the Stillness of Willow Hill - August 27, 2014

This topic reminds us how our society chooses to ignore death. We act as if we are going to actually get out of it! Contemplating our own mortality is a great place to begin building compassion for the process of dying.

nrhatch - August 27, 2014

Agreed. Most of the opposition comes from people who are, plain and simple, afraid of death.

Sometimes life is worse than death. When it is, we should have the right to die with dignity and the assistance of compassionate caring health care workers.

9. ericjbaker - August 27, 2014

One of the many issues that led me to secular humanism.

nrhatch - August 27, 2014

In the film, one of Kevorkian’s opponents, a rabid fanatic, spits in his face while screeching, “Do you even believe in God?”

Kevorkian/Pacino replies. “Yes. My God is Johann Sebastian Bach. At least he’s not imaginary like yours.”

Perhaps Kevorkian was a secular humanist. But I don’t think that’s a necessary pre-requisite to come down on the right side of this human rights issue.

We have certain inalienable rights. Among them is the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If our liberty and pursuit of happiness leads to a dead end, we have the right to pull the plug. And rather than having people committing suicide in messy ways, the government should allow physicians to assist.

ericjbaker - August 27, 2014

Indeed. I agree 100% that you do not have to be a secular humanist to support the right to die with dignity (most of my family members are Christians and also support Kevorkian’s cause). However, you pretty much have to be a religious zealot to oppose it.

Bach is my favorite composer. Must be a thing with heathens.


nrhatch - August 27, 2014

Many opponents do so on the ridiculous grounds that their “loving God” wants to choose the means and method of our demise.

Of course, if they really believe that they should also be opposed to all the ways that physicians extend life ~ and most aren’t. Because they haven’t really thought things through. Probably because thinking and fanaticism are mutually exclusive propositions. 😛

I learned something new today . . . I didn’t know Bach was your favorite.

10. jannatwrites - August 28, 2014

I’ve always admired his courage in assisting others because he felt it was the right thing to do. Whether it’s the right thing to do or not, well, that’s not for me to determine 🙂

nrhatch - August 28, 2014

In the film, Kevorkian told several folks he couldn’t help them, because he didn’t feel they were “terminal.” So, as portrayed, he wasn’t out to help just anyone make a quick exit Stage Left.

And he did have courage to stand up for what he believed.

11. William D'Andrea - August 28, 2014

If you kill someone who is suffering, his or her suffering ends, but if you are the one who killed him or her, you will continue to live with that on your conscience.

nrhatch - August 28, 2014

If someone with a terminal illness needed my help to die with dignity and put an end to pointless suffering, I would view it as a “good deed.” I view Kevorkian’s actions to be full of mercy and compassion.

12. Sandra Bell Kirchman - August 28, 2014

Highly charged subject. I’m with you guys and believe that Jack acted out of compassion. I also want to die with dignity and respect (and without pain).

Someone mentioned the suicide law in Canada. Here’s what I found online about that:

Is suicide illegal in Canada?
No, but attempted suicide was not removed from our Criminal Code until 1972. However, counselling suicide–sometimes referred to as aiding and abetting suicide–still remains a criminal act.

nrhatch - August 28, 2014

Thanks, Sandra. It’s hard for many terminally ill patients to commit suicide due to limited mobility, pain, and/or being bed-ridden. And we shouldn’t have to die alone to make sure that our loved ones aren’t prosecuted for assisting us to die.

We should have clinics where patients who choose to end their pointless suffering can be “put to sleep” by caring healthcare workers . . . after appropriate counseling to ensure that the choice being made is not due to coercion.

13. livelytwist - August 31, 2014

A friend of mine was involved in hospice care. He watched his friend deteriorate and eventually die. It shook him to his core. I think I can understand why someone would want to assist others die. I’m not sure that I could do it.

nrhatch - August 31, 2014

Whether I could do it, or not, I would prefer not to ~ instead, I’d like to see clinics set up where people who choose to end pointless suffering can be “put to sleep” by caring healthcare workers.

14. Three Well Beings - September 4, 2014

I have wanted to see this documentary, Nancy! I always found Kevorkian really fascinating when he would be interviewed on 60 Minutes or something similar. I’m trying to remember if I actually saw the episode where he performed the assisted suicide or if I’ve just heard about it so many times I think I have! Either way, I will definitely move to watch this very soon. Thank you for reminding me!

nrhatch - September 4, 2014

Al Pacino is PERFECT in the role. And the behind the scenes discussion with Kevorkian is interesting.

It’s not a movie I would want to watch again and again, but definitely food for thought.

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