In Support of Suffering.
Canada will discuss C-384, a bill to legalize assisted suicide there, in May. In today's Hamilton Spectator, Paul Kokolksi writes against the bill, citing the same arguments that we hear here in the US. My least favorite argument is that which endorses end of life suffering - in line with the theological concept of redemptive suffering espoused by the Catholic church, that the more pain we feel, the closer we are to God.
For all of the talk about a "slippery slope" with our "culture of death," I find there too is a slippery slope to the acceptance of suffering. We have the ability to relieve suffering for the dying but suffering brings us closer to God. We have the ability to relieve poverty, inequality, racism, hunger, abuse, injustice...but suffering brings us closer to God? If the concept of redemptive suffering prevents us from relieving suffering for the sake of converting those in pain, we have reduced our moral imperative as humans to a mission for the church. I can't think of a less humane premise than this.
Here's a clip:
Our present culture tends to consider suffering the epitome of evil. In such a culture there is a great temptation to resolve the problem of suffering by eliminating it at the root, by hastening death so that it occurs at the moment considered most suitable. True compassion leads to sharing another's pain; it does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear.
The pleas of the gravely ill who sometimes request death should not be understood as implying a true desire for euthanasia; in fact, it is almost always a case of an anguished plea for help and love. Intentionally causing one's own death, or suicide, is a rejection of God's sovereignty and loving plan. It is a refusal of love for self, the denial of a natural instinct to live, a flight from the duties of justice and charity owed to one's neighbour and to society.
No one should be allowed to permit in any way the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law.
In the Netherlands, a policy originally encompassing only persistent requests for death from hopelessly suffering and dying patients has steadily expanded so that physicians have been allowed to kill patients who were physically healthy and handicapped children who never asked for death.
The Netherlands stands as a stark reminder of the slippery slope leading from supposedly limited killing to a broader culture of death.
There exists in contemporary culture a certain Promethean attitude which leads people to think that they can control life and death by taking the decisions about them into their own hands. What really happens in this case is that the individual is overcome and crushed by a death deprived of any prospect of meaning or hope. What any sick person needs, besides medical care, is love -- the human and supernatural warmth provided by those close to him such as family, nurses and doctors.