ethicsindex_euthanasiaOne of the hottest issues Britons face today is assisted suicide, or euthanasia. I am sure that you have heard of the couple who went to Switzerland to die together. After a rich and long life, they decided that it was time to end the suffering that they had been going through for the last few years of their lives. Their family supported it, and that clinic in Switzerland offered that option.

It is not the same in the UK, though. Technically, assisted suicide is illegal in the country. Indeed, doctors often freeze up at the very mention of the term. With these deaths becoming highly publicised, however, talk has been going on. Should we support or condemn assisted suicide?

From the perspective of the family of those who are suffering, assisted suicide should be an option. Indeed, for them, it is a much better option than living out one’s days in pain and inconvenience. Then we have those who believe that we should never take the lives of other people; that this is something that no human being should be made to do.

According to a story ran by the Daily Mail, there are about 800 Britons who are supposedly making plans for assisted suicide. But since this is not legal in the country, only people who are able to travel and who have the money to do so have the option. For now, the option is only available outside of the country. But it may not be far in the future that it could be legalised at home as well.

How do you feel about this?

Billy.ElliotDeserving pupils in need are going to get the break that they deserve, thanks to the government. A new programme is being launched, wherein a cash premium is going to be doled out to bright pupils who come from needy homes. The announcement was made by schools minister Vernon Coaker.

Dubbed the Billy Elliot cash bonus, the programme is aimed at giving a helping hand to the kids who need it the most. I am sure that you are pretty familiar with the name. Billy Elliot’s story is one of hope and the realisation of dreams. In spite of his challenged background, he was able to pursue and realise his dreams of becoming a ballet dancer.

With this programme, the government is encouraging each school to nominate pupils who are already on free school meals and who excel either in academics or sports or arts. The pupils who qualify will receive a yearly allowance of ₤250.

This programme was announced shortly after criticism of how the government handled gifted children surfaced. The criticism focused mainly on the idea that what the government was doing was not enough and lacked direction. Apparently, Coaker reacted quickly to the criticism. He says of the programme:

“One of the great crusades for us all is to ensure that every pupil’s talent is being maximised. Of course, you have to be concerned at anything that points to the fact you are not providing the opportunity you want for everyone, wherever they are. I think this gifted and talented scheme is one of the ways we can do that. If they are talented musicians, buy them the instrument they’ve been struggling to get; take them to the theatre.”

While I am pretty sure that this new plan of action will not escape the watchful eyes of critics, I am hoping that it will make a difference in the lives of many children.

harry-patchToday is a sad day for the family of Harry Patch, who was the last British survivor of the First World War. He was 111 years old. Harry Patch was known as the last Tommy. He fought in the battle of Passchendaele in 1917. If you are not familiar with this battle (I can’t blame you, I had to look it up myself, to be honest), it was one wherein more than 70,000 British troops met their end.

If you remember, I posted something about another war veteran last month, Henry Allingham. He became the oldest man at 113 years old last month when the man who held that title passed away. Allingham also served in the First World War. About a week ago, however, he also passed away, making Harry the oldest man.

In what we can probably call a series of unfortunate events, Harry Patch also passed away. He is survived by loving friends and family members. Even Gordon Brown had good words for the veteran: “I had the honour of meeting Harry, and I share his family’s grief at the passing of a great man.”

Jim Ross, a friend of Patch’s said of him: “Harry died peacefully, surrounded by his many friends. While the country may remember Harry as a soldier, we will remember him as a dear friend. He was a man of peace who used his great age and fame as the last survivor of the trenches to communicate two simple messages: remember with gratitude and respect those who served on all sides; settle disputes by discussion, not war.”

For the rest of us, this is a good reminder to remember those who have gone before us.