A Parable

As the semester comes to a close, I am beginning to watch programs that educate me, keep me informed, and urge me to think.  One such program is FRONTLINE on PBS

On the show’s online archive, I watched several minutes of an episode called the “Suicidal Tourist.”

It was about a man with an incurable disease that makes him excruciating ly fatigued so much so that he can’t move his fingers; the disease is projected to lead to paralysis and eventually to death.

The man has a loving wife who takes care of him; however he is frustrated with the pain and agony that the disease has caused him.  He wants to end his life.

He goes to a country in Europe (I think Switzerland if I remember clearly) where Physician-assisted suicide is legal. If he goes through with it, he will drink a thick liquid that will kill him.

As I watched full of emotion and with great sympathy for this man, I was struck by what he said that justified his reason to take his own life so that he will not become a vegetable when the disease progresses further.

He tells a story about a monk who is running away from a tiger.  As the monk runs, he finds himself at the edge of a cliff, while the tiger rushes towards him.  He begins to fall, but grabs onto a branch.  He looks down.  There is a tiger at the bottom of the cliff waiting to eat him if he falls down, and if he struggles back up, the tiger that chased him will surely eat him.  So in the face of adversity, the monk sees a piece of berry growing on a bush.  He plucks the berry and eats it.  He savours the delicious juice, still holding  the branch.

I hope I will never have to make this choice.  I hope nobody has to ever make this choice.  But what this parable has taught me is that even when life it at is worse, we could seek out what is good and sweet in this world, savour it and enjoy the moment because we do not know when we would have the chance to do it again.



Filed under Fiction, Prose, Reflections, Writing

3 responses to “A Parable

  1. Yeah, it’s so nice to have a place to go to get programming you trust, that you know is as unbiased as possible. And free.

  2. I saw that one! Really powerful stuff. I love Frontline. Have you watched the profile of Ai Weiwei? I loved that one. It’s only 15-minutes, but you learn so much about him and China. Fascinating.

    • Cool! It was quite moving. I still have to get to the end of that one. Frontline is an awesome show indeed. I have not watched the profile of Ai Weiwei, but since you mentioned it I think I just might. It is such a good thing they have their programs online.

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