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The Man In Black

by J. W. Jepson, D.Min.

Life In Christ Center, 3095 Cherry Heights Road, The Dalles, Oregon 97058

(541) 296-1136

copyright � 2005 by J. W. Jepson

All rights reserved, including the right to grant the following permission and to prohibit the misuse thereof:

The Author hereby grants permission to reproduce the text of this article, without changes or alterations*, as a ministry, but not for commercial or non-ministry purposes.

*Permission is given for publication of excerpts and condensed versions.

* * * * *

The Man In Black


He wears the familiar black robe with the hood that hides his identity. We expect to see a scythe in his hand, but he is carrying a measuring stick instead. On one side of the measuring stick are written the words: "I wouldn't want to live that way." The other side concludes: "therefore you shall not live that way." He does not wear his usual label, "The Grim Reaper." Instead, he boasts a new name: Popular Opinion.


The pockets of his robe are full of documents; however, in some cases he no longer needs these, for he now holds the latest document--the court order.


He has found a welcome in some places. With his measuring stick he has access to critical care units, where he can pull tubes from living people who do not measure up.


After he has gone through the critical care units, he moves to the neonatal unit. There he finds newborns with birth defects such as Down's Syndrome and spina bifida. Of course, they have minimal consciousness and cannot even feed themselves. So, with his measuring stick in one hand, he starts pulling out feeding tubes.


He does the same in the psychiatric ward.


For now he passes by the pediatric ward, with its young cancer patients. Society is not yet ready for him to enter there. But just give him time.


From the hospitals he goes to the nursing homes. There he finds lots of subjects. Some of the hallways are lined with "useless" people: grandparents tied to wheelchairs, muttering to themselves, their minds slipping away. Here and there he finds a paraplegic or a quadraplegic. Many of these residents do not measure up; so he starts pulling tubes, ordering the withholding of nutrition and hydration, and writing "do not code; do not revive" on their charts. Burdened taxpayers and relieved relatives nod in assent.


He is enjoying increasing public acceptance and even has some enthusiastic fan clubs, such as Compassion In Dying and The Hemlock Society. He has won the prestigious Right To Die and Death With Dignity awards.


Of course, he meets with persistent resistance from some "special interest" groups: the Right To Life, Sanctity Of Human Life, and "Endowed By Their Creator" crowd--including those pesky religious people. But he continues his rounds. After all, his name is Popular Opinion.


Once in a while his defenders get a glimpse of his face and are taken aback by what appears to be a reflection of their own. But the uncomfortabled impression is not allowed to linger.


If Popular Opinion does not change, one day with his measuring stick and pocketful of documents--ready or not, he just might enter your room.

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