Human sufferings are of diverse kinds. It has different meanings and connotations in different religions. Here, it is restricted to sufferings due to old age and diseases. Once born one can hardly escape disease and old age becomes inevitable with its associated sufferings. Since time immemorial efforts have been made to relieve man from diseases. In the beginning, healing was attempted by witchcraft: it was prevalent among all primitive tribes. Gradually, it moved to herbal and other remedies. With time further improvement occurred, reaching to the present age of highest sophistication, and the consequent longevity. Average lifespan is all time high at present and rising farther by the day.
Now, a paradoxical situation is reached. Earlier, precious lifesaving drugs were not available, and therefore, people died early – so to say without adequate treatment. Modern medicines came in a big way to cure diseases, improve health and enhance age. There are many terminally ill cases, which even the latest methods and medicines are not able to cure. In fact, numerous diabetic and cancerous patients – to cite only a few -- are subjected to lingering suffering for years at a stretch. It is a common norm nowadays to pass the last days in ICUs. Nobody – except the poor – is allowed to die a normal death. Thanks to plentiful amenities of life support systems teeming number of patients waste years in comatose stage in various nursing homes. How far it is desirable is a very controversial topic. Modern medicines on the one hand is credited for alleviating human suffering enormously and on the other is responsible for making prolonged suffering a general practice. How to mediate between the two extremes?
There are people seeking freedom to choose death when a ripe age is attained. But the legal norm of almost all the countries doesn’t permit this option. As a way out Dr. A. Indrayan, a professor, division of biostatistics and medical informatics, Delhi, recommends promotion of heart disease rather than prevention of it at a ripe age, in the interest of obtaining sudden death without long-drawn suffering at the fag end of life. It is again a highly debatable issue, not generally accepted. Individuals liking the idea may cultivate it.
Again, the polemic will stare at us how to decide the ripe age. Ramajit Raghav, a daily wager of Haryana became a father at the age of 94. Oscar Niemeyer, a renowned Brazilian architect, married second time at the age of 99. He turned 103 on 15th December, 2010 and is still creatively active. He opened a museum of his works on 10th Decmber, 2010. Jeanne Calment, a French lady learnt fencing at the age of 80, rode a bicycle at 100, and produced a rap CD at 121 -- just one year before her death at 122.
In order to avoid confusion – for those who agree -- It may be desirable to promote cardiac disease after the safe age of 80 and wait for sudden death without suffering for a long duration.