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From the author of a much-admired tale of triumph over disability, Flying Without Wings (1988): an exploration of his personal views on physical deterioration and death--and of our society's penchant for extending human life in desolation and pain after ""its purpose has ended."" Nearly 64, Beisser is aware that his almost totally paralyzed and life-support-dependent body is failing rapidly. Despite almost unremitting pain, he tries to savor the world's ""beauty and happiness"" by looking at it through a ""positive window."" He dreads the prospect of becoming ""a pawn"" in an impersonal health-care system. Believing that death is as much a part of life as birth, he hopes that--like members of non-technological societies--he will be allowed to ""welcome it when its time comes."" He also contends that our society is reversing its priorities by allocating ""enormous resources to warehousing the elderly"" while short-shrifting the young. We should, Beisser says, be helping the millions of children living in poverty, and attending to the decimation of our teen-age and young adult population through suicide and AIDS. To the ""sanctity-of-lifers,"" he points out that both Christ and Socrates chose death rather than recant their teachings, and concludes that those who insist on maintaining physical existence beyond its time are not doing God's will, but thwarting it. Less upbeat than his previous book and with none of the farcical episodes that peppered its pages--and thus likely to attract a more reflective, and perhaps smaller, audience.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1990
Publisher: Doubleday