Would YOU pull the plug on Nelson?

Nelson Mandela is on life support.  In related news, Saturday was spent discussing, erm…

End of Life.

AKA Passing Away

AKA Becoming Deceased.

AKA Going to Another Place.

In other words, Death.

This was a conference about Advance Care Planning – ie, do you want your corpse reanimated and fed lime jelly through a tube, or not?  In short, a whole roomful of people talking about what they’d like to be done to them, and not done to them, as they approach their final hour.  One craggy-browed participant, over coffee, stares around belligerently and declares,

I believe in personal freedom over my own body!

Well that’s interesting.  How about personal freedom to take hard drugs, not wear a motorbike helmet, that kind of thing?

Yes, absolutely, it’s outrageous that anyone can tell me I’m not allowed to smoke dope.

Everyone nods (me too).  Teenagers in the sixties, I guess.

And another thing, why should anyone be punished for looking at pictures! If I wanted to look at pictures of nude children..not that I do of course…anyway I suppose they’re nude, I wouldn’t know…..who would I be hurting? No one. Those pictures’d be there on the internet if I wanted to look at them or not!

Short pause for reflection.

Where there’s a buyer there’s a seller.  There are some markets you don’t want to enter.

Yes, well, getting back to death……Because it’s certainly more comfortable to talk about death than it is about kiddie porn!

I’m very worried about all this advance planning, says a Vietnamese woman. If I have a Plan, maybe the doctors will think they can get away with not doing EVERYTHING they possibly can to keep me alive.

You can put anything you like in your Plan, someone points out.  You can put ‘Don’t pull the plug on me until my head falls off’, if you want.

Anyway, put what you like, if your son the stockbroker who lives in New York but has flown back just in time to ask you where you put the will, says he wants you on that breathing machine, then on it you will be.  Dead men don’t sue.  Much.

That’s Love, says the Vietnamese woman. If it’s Love, then it’s ok.

Sigh.  I bet Nelson wishes he had a little less love and a little more consideration.  And here is a scary ad that ran in Australia a long time ago.  Wrong, luckily.


  1. What a great dialogue. I’m a pro life sort of guy, though hanging onto it is not always fun. Who said it was meant to be. Mandela could have lost hope in the cell and toped himself. Then what would we be talking about. He always clung to hope despite the facts. Perhaps he is doing that now

    1. I’d be very surprised if he’s as keen to hang on as others are to hang on to him. Last public appearance he looked very uninterested in the whole life thing.


  2. I personally find it inhumane to keep a person hanging on in agony. We campaigned for his freedom all those years ago, so shouldn’t we be doing it again now? Let him go if he’s had enough!

    As for me? Pull the plug, harvest what you can use, don’t pump me full of chemicals and give me a kist burial in the woods with a tankard of Mead.

    Also, a dildo in case I turn up as an “unsolved murder” one day. I’ll be too busy being dead to care, but that isn’t going to stop me confusing the hell out of people and having the last laugh 😀

      1. With a kist burial the wrists were tied to the ankles to hold the body in the foetal position, so putting a random dildo in with me to make it look like a sex game gone wrong would be quite amusing. I would, of course, warn all surviving relatives so that they can call the police and say “It’s all right; that’s my aunt/cousin. You can put her back where you found her now” 😉

  3. Taken care of here in America. Haven’t you heard about Obamacare’s Death Panels? 😉
    In all seriousness, it’s offensive to some, but true nonetheless … we spend far too much money keeping people alive in circumstances like this.

    1. Death Panels? Really? Hmm. It’s only modern medicine that allows us to keep a lot of people alive who would otherwise be dead. It won’t be long before it’s medically possible to reanimate a corpse, will it then be immoral not to?

      1. Yes. One if the republican scare tactics was that Obamacare sets up panels that can decide whether care is needed or not. Death panels to decide whether you live or die. Count me out on getting reanimated.

    1. That’s what’s generally recommended, if you want to have control over your life after, for instance, alzheimers or stroke or the various unexpected stuff that can render you helpless and speechless. It’s your wife and family that are going to have to make the decisions, so they need to know what you want.


    1. I have experience of both, in a sense, and neither had much to do with economics. In relation to euthanasia, I have a lot to do with old people in my work (and also my mum who recently died). Many of them long for death but endure long, cruel periods of suffering because not only don’t they get access to euthanasia, but they get medical treatment they don’t want to stay alive. About 75-80% of Australians don’t want this kind of long-drawn out death, according to surveys, and it’s certainly hard as a child to watch your mother or friends go through it, money is no consideration one way or the other. As for abortion, I have had one and hated it (it was at 12 weeks, so the foetus wasn’t at the stage of development where it could biologically suffer, but I still didn’t like to do it). I was single, unemployed, it was an accident, I disliked the father, and was emotionally very mixed up – it wasn’t the time for me to have a child, or this child. I have two now, much loved, but I don’t regret not ruining my life for a 12 week foetus (although it wasn’t something lightly done). I’ve also seen people choose to have a baby (with the help of high tech medical intervention) with severe disabilities which mean they will be in constant discomfort, have multiple traumatic operations, will never speak, walk or properly communicate or emote, and will be dependent on their parents for every aspect of living from birth to the end of their short lives. To me, this isn’t courage or compassion, this is cruelty. But I respect that there are different views.


  4. What’s the rush? Oh, to find the will, is it?
    In my mind, Nelson Mandela will not be back with us every again. If the medical profession are I agreement, then I believe it’s the kind thing to do.

    I’m a little shocked his family members are fighting over where his body belongs, though.

  5. Regarding Nelson Mandella, it’s his and the family’s decision …. not mine, nor anyone else …. and yes, I would not want life support for me.

    1. Totally agree. For all I know he’s totally in favour of hanging on. In the past, though, before ‘life support’ he would have been well gone by now. I don’t think it can be much fun for him. I wouldn’t want life support for me either.

    2. It is, of course. Though when the time comes for me, I’d rather it be my decision alone. The reality being that most people can’t communicate what they want at the end, or are deemed not to be able to.


  6. The South African press has registered alot of upset about the public obsession with Mandela’s care. Typically this is seen as a very personal family matter. In South Africa I think there is totemistic concern: what happens when the father of the Rainbow Nation passes?

    1. I think that’s right, too. Thus perhaps the concern with where exactly he’s going to be buried. I’m a bit sorry for him though because it seems that he’s being treated first as an icon and second as a very sick (in fact dying) elderly man.


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