Friday, July 20, 2018

Microstory 890: License to Die

I have mixed feelings about my job. I believe that it’s the best solution yet that anyone’s come up with to deal with the overpopulation problem—and the most humane—but I hate that it’s necessary in the first place. Ours is a troubled history, full of death and war. Back in the golden age, we were making movies about what it would be like if the world ended. Sometimes it was a virus, sometimes an asteroid, and sometimes something religiously supernatural would take over. In very few of them did the end happen so gradually that it was hard to notice. We elected a bad president in our country. Meanwhile another country was purposefully separating itself from a union. Another country was going through a sex trafficking epidemic, while another a drug epidemic. People kept waiting for these things to get better, but they just never did. They got worse year over year, but scholars today seem to think the year we realized there was no going back was the one in which we found we were almost completely out of coffee. That sounds like a joke, like don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee, but it was a profoundly vital commodity, in more ways than one, and its loss marked the end of the beginning of the end. People kept having babies, but also kept being unable to provide for those babies. Procreation is a biological imperative that even we, as humans, have been unable to quell. Sure, an individual here, a couple there, can decide to not have kids, but sociologically speaking, it’s going to continue. Governments around the world started trying to come up with solutions to our problem. One thought to test everyone at the age of eighteen, and kill all the people who didn’t pass. Apparently they only wanted the smartest of their population to survive. Others figured their biggest problem was their criminals, so they just straight up executed anyone who so much as stole a pack of gum. Yet another country went the opposite direction, and just let people legally kill each other every once in a while. All of these remedies did what they set out to do, but at great cost to our morality. It was teaching people to be individualistic, and hateful, and most importantly, it was taking away people’s choice.

Then a woman came forward with what she believed to be a better idea. If childbirth limitations weren’t going to work, then the only alternative was to balance the other side of the equation, by organizing death. That seemed easy enough to grasp, since that was what everyone was doing anyway. But she realized the element these other methods were missing was self-sacrifice. She figured that there were plenty of people out there willing to support the common good without being forced to do so. And the suicide license was born. Now, you can’t simply fill out a few forms, and be handed a license. It’s a long and involved process that includes speaking with a trained counselor about it for weeks, which is what I do. I ask my clients a plethora of questions, test them on their mental stability, and make sure they’re not being coerced into this decision. If they agree to do this, their families will be afforded extra resources. While they are not given enough to alter the dynamics of their lives too dramatically—that would defeat the entire purpose of the program—some forced suicide has been attempted. It’s my job to explain to my clients what suicide truly means, and arm them with the tools they’ll need to make the right decision for them. There is no one size that fits all. My average right now is 56%, which means just over half of the people who come to me with their proposals actually end up following through with it once we’ve had all the necessary discussions. My colleagues boast higher numbers, but I don’t treat it as a competition. These are precious lives we are talking about, and that should be respected. I don’t enjoy what I do, but I believe I am contributing positively to the peace in the world, and I will continue to do it until it is no longer needed.

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