Taking A Life

I wonder to myself why I chose to write a murder mystery.   I read a lot of murder mystery novels, but not to the exclusion of other genres.   In my book, the victim is an evil man, so his murder is nothing that I would feel sadness about if I knew him.  And yet, I believe that killing him was also evil.

The killing of innocents is especially evil, whether the victims are people or animals.   In No Kill Station, the innocents are homeless dogs and cats.  The methodical killing of innocents by institutions is the most intolerable evil of all.

In writing this book, I tackled the question of whether there is life after death.  I didn’t know that I was going to do that when I started writing this book.  Whether or not there actually is an afterlife, I believe that the taking of another life is wrong.  That is why I am a pacifist and vegan.

As soon as I write that, I realize that there is no black and white here.  The ultimate question is whether I would be willing to kill Hitler if I could.   the answer is yes.  The next question is whether I believe in medically assisted suicide.  I just read the NY Times article, At His Own Wake, Celebrating the Gift of Life and Death, and I was certainly moved by the story. Personally, I wouldn’t put my loved ones through the stress of arranging a pre-death wake, but that was between him and his family.  I do believe that John Sheilds had the right to end his own life.

I was particularly moved by the lyrics of this Celtic folk song, The Parting Glass that was read at his wake.  I have posted below the video of the Wailin’ Jennys singing it.

But since it falls, unto my lot,

That I should rise and you should not,

I’ll gently rise and I’ll softly call,

Good night and joy be with you all.

I would like to be able to choose how to die but of course, that option is not always available to us.  I think of my father’s sudden death when he was 81, which was such an awful shock for the family.  I know that he would have preferred that death to any other kind, but it was so very hard to lose him.  While it was painful to all of us who loved him, I believe it was a better than what my mother experienced as she sunk into dementia.  She would have hated dying like that and I am grateful that she didn’t know what happened.  Is there a good way to die?  I think that I’d have to say yes to that.

And then I return to my original question – why would I write a murder mystery?   I just don’t know.