Last year columnist David Brooks asked readers to send their “Life Reports” to him, where he would occasionally post some of the more interesting reports in hope of teaching us all a few things. Charles Snelling—a wealthy entrepreneur who was raised by an abnormally strict father—wrote in some of the details of his life experience. When he was young, he met the love of his life. She took care of him and patiently dealt with the shortcomings that come with growing up in an emotionally deficient household. Six years ago, she caught Alzheimer’s, and for these last six years her husband took care of her. Rather than being bitter, he expressed gratitude for being able to repay her in some way.
But last week, Snelling killed his wife and himself. The Snelling family released a statement: “This is a total shock to everyone in the family, but we know he acted out of deep devotion and profound love.” Readers generally tended to express the same type of sentiment. Some made comparisons to Romeo and Juliet.
Huh? Profound love? How in any way is this a decent act, let alone one led by profound love?
Here the only sane voices seem to be those of the women. One woman, who had spent 25 years caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, rightly argued that “none of us have the right to decide that another person’s life is worthless.” Snelling obviously had issues–more issues than he was willing to let on in his letter. It is possible that deep down he just wasn’t a very good person, adept at manipulating others. Or that he couldn’t care for her—in which case he should have sought professional help. It is also possible, as Brooks notes, that he no longer had control over his faculties.
In any case, I am with the women on this one.