Plan B

By Serge Kreutz

Current society, current technology, and current medicine are all, to a high degree, concerned with making human life as safe as possible. That’s Plan A. They even make preparations for the eventuality something goes wrong with plan A. That’s why buildings have fire escape routes, even though people normally only use elevators. And this is why cars are equipped with safety belts. I would call these installations Plan A-2.

In modern technology, just as in ancient one, there will always be something that goes wrong. Which is why there are backup systems, even multiple backup systems. These should correctly be designated A-2, A-3, A-4, and so on.

So, what is plan B?

Plan B is a backup system entirely different from the type A backup systems. A type B backup system is for the occasion when we realize that a life cannot be saved, or could be saved only under conditions that are terrible to bear for the person whose life is to be saved.

But even though anybody with sufficient intellect will understand my concern, the topic by and large is taboo. There isn’t even any scientific research into the pleasantness of different forms of dying. Yes, there is one famous book on the practicalities of self-deliverance (Let me die before I wake), but there is nothing that explains, for example, the level of comfort and discomfort of dying from various individual sicknesses or potential accidents.

Well, I assume that falling into a coma from a lack of sugar in one’s blood, and then passing away, would not be too bad. Slitting one’s wrist veins, which may sound inviting, will likely not work as smoothly as one imagines. The body possesses many mechanisms to control blood loss, among them a psychological one: blood loss causes panic.

While I believe that many intellectuals can follow my idea that designing plan B solutions for many situations in life would make sense, I have little confidence that in the current democratic-pluralistic societies of the West and the democratic-chaotic societies in the Third World, the idea has much of a chance getting implemented.