‘Happiness does not lie in doing what you enjoy, but in enjoying what you do’, was the saying on Friday’s St. Gerardus calendar in my hallway. Funny. Watching TV doesn’t always start with pleasure for me, especially on days with a lot of last parties before the holidays. But afterwards I am often surprised by what I have learned from it. TV is a great medium to encounter stories outside of your natural preference bubble.
Now there is such a program as This is the issue (EO) up my alley, with ‘provoking moral dilemmas and ethical issues’, but it’s not at the top of my wish list. The title is so boring that you can’t imagine the thrill. Moreover, at the Christian EO I am somewhat wary of bias when faced with ethical dilemmas.
Wrongly. The three presenters of This is the question are about calm and nuance, and don’t seem to want to force you into a way of thinking.
On Thursday, the season finale was about the question of whether we don’t ‘tinker with our elderly for too long’. Medically it is possible, but do you also want to, was the well-known question. Still, it surprised me that actually all conversations with doctors, patients and relatives tended to ‘choose for enjoyment of life’ instead of living six months longer with a new treatment. Suffering for half a year longer, often. And unaffordable care.
Tijs van den Brink dares to ask the uncomfortable questions. As to a widow, if her sick husband’s life was too long. She came up with the beautiful sentence: “Buying time is a waste of your life”. He should have bought quality, she thought. That is another dilemma for 64-year-old Jan Gijsbers with a degenerative disease that already cost him his leg and half of his left hand. Very young to give up.
Kefah Allush always has that poetic searching, and above all comes to listen quietly. “Who is it that always wants to continue, the doctor or the patient?” he asks a doctor excitedly. Many variables drive the decision to continue treatment. The patient is in panic, he will. Or if the doctor ‘cannot do it anymore’, a doctor sometimes suspects that he is saying that out of panic, and guards the earlier decision to continue. Hospitals are paid according to the number of procedures, so they will not renounce them quickly. And it takes much more time to explain to patients why not treating is better than simply to schedule the procedure, another doctor explains to Margje Fikse.
She, the third presenter, is just very interested and spontaneous. In The Parool she called herself ‘of course a total C-star’ as a holiday power at On 1† Funny self-esteem, unnecessarily condescending. She had the most interesting conversation with professor of geriatrics Joris Slaets, barefoot on the beach. He coined the term ‘harmful care for the elderly’. In countries without significant care, the life expectancy of octogenarians is almost as great as here, according to research. And doctors all compete in their own field. “A cardiologist takes care of the heart, but not the person. That one is worn out, the brain, the kidneys too.”
Slaets prefers to take living pleasure as a starting point. I’m going to do the same in the coming weeks, nice in the south.
Renate van der Bas and Maaike Bos write columns about television five times a week.