Would you ever want to be buried alive? It’s a question Tom Stoppard raises in his absurdist drama, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. In the play, the titular Rosencrantz considers this riddle when he contemplates the experience of being a corpse in a coffin.
Even taking into account the fact that you’re dead, it isn’t a pleasant thought. Especially if you’re dead, really … ask yourself, if I asked you straight off—I’m going to stuff you in this box now, would you rather be alive or dead? Naturally, you’d prefer to be alive. Life in a box is better than no life at all. I expect. You’d have a chance at least. You could lie there thinking—well, at least I’m not dead! In a minute someone’s going to bang on the lid and tell me to come out.
While Rosencrantz asserts that a human “naturally” prefers life over death, we can hardly take that position for granted anymore. Indeed, many 21st Century Catholics think that some people would in fact be better off dead in the box than alive. At least, they give that impression when they advocate for the right to kill children still in the womb.