Dependence 1: Isolated elderly people, altruistic suicide, a second childhood, and a crucified hero
We’ve discussed in previous episodes the looming ‘demographic timebomb’ – a growing mass of elderly and increasingly chronically ill people in many developed nations, expected to place huge strain on public resources. The policy debates around this issue often emphasise the importance of not ‘being a burden’ on others, with some even suggesting there could be a ‘duty to die’ by assisted suicide for those who become old and infirm. Why does our contemporary culture have such a horror of the idea of becoming dependent on our families or the state? And what does the Christian story have to say about the value of dependence versus autonomy, especially as we near the final seasons of our lives?