Response to Stefan Jetchik's thoughts on assisted suicide

I read with great interest my friend Stefan Jetchik's comments in the November 11th edition of the QCT concerning the bill that is currently before the House of Commons which relates to assisted suicide.

As a fellow practicing Roman Catholic, I certainly share Mr. Jetchik's assertion that we are inherently spiritual beings occupying a physical form. However, where Mr. Jetchik's argument falls flat is his fallacious assumption that, simply because a group of people are advocating an idea such as assisted suicide, that they inherently deny the fundamental assumption of our spiritual existence in physical form, thereby reducing our life to a simple physical existence which has no spiritual value, and therefore can be terminated at will because we can no longer feel pleasure, or afford pleasure to others.

Indeed, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is prefaced with a sentence that says that our country is founded upon the notion of the supremacy of God and the rule of law. This therefore presupposes that the rule of Law is predicated upon the notion of the supremacy of God, thereby validating the inherently spiritual nature of the rule of law.

So I find it somewhat disconcerting that Mr. Jetchik is accusing the proponents of this bill of being spiritually bereft, when the facts point entirely in a different direction, based on this very same notion of spirituality existing in a temporal world.

I speak specifically of the bio-ethical issue of 'acharnement thérapeuthique,' or, in English, 'prolonging life by technological means'. It is a legal issue which many individuals and families are currently facing, as they and their loved ones continue to live longer and longer, and their final days almost inevitably end up being an agonizingly long journey of doctors, retirement homes, treatments etc...

Let's not forget that our hospitals are primarily teaching and research facilities, most of which are associated with universities, which themselves are primarily focused on teaching and research. Secondly, the biggest emerging source of temporal wealth creation in the post-modern world is most likely going to be in the fields of the life sciences and pharmaceuticals.

So, increasingly, our sick and elderly are being used as guinea pigs to pursue an agenda of wealth-creation which is less related to the betterment of the average person's well-being, than to the pursuit of a whole host of new bio-medical treatments and technologies which will prolong some people's lives, help to eradicate disease for some, grow spare parts, clone, etc... all for certain people's benefit, while ultimately removing the individual's right to choose when he or she is to be reconciled to their heavenly Creator.

Mr. Jetchik speaks of letting God decide when we are to die, and ends his piece that way. I feel this is overly simplistic. The Prog Rock group Yes once wrote that 'we can be God easily.' Well, we now have the ability to at least play God and interfere in the so-called 'natural' process of birth, life and death. We are taught as Christians not to put ourselves in the mind of God, that this is a sin.

However, as rational human beings, either ourselves or the caregivers looking after others, all have the duty and the honour of attempting, on a daily basis, of discerning the Will of God for us and the power to carry it out.

We should not, as free-born individuals, be unduly subjected to the vagaries or oppression of bio-medical science and technological 'advancement', simply for the sake of enabling a small but increasingly powerful propertied constituency of bio-medical interests, from unduly profiting from our misery, as we journey towards our final reconciliation to our Maker.

This journey is already a very bittersweet one at best for most of us, and we should be able to maintain the right, as free-born individuals, to exercise our right of discernment in our journey towards our Father in heaven. We are taught that it should be 'thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven', but this should not permit the sanctity of our spirit, in its human incarnation, to be anymore unduly trodden upon than it already has been in this life.

Realistically speaking, our society has a great bio-ethical issue to confront: An inverted population pyramid. That is to say, there are more older people than there are younger people. Society, everywhere you look is contracting: Contracting government budgets, contracting sizes of families, family budgets, etc.

Usually when an organism, even a society, is undergoing contractions, it means that it's in labour, and about to give birth to something or someone new. I feel that our current society is at a crossroads, and is on the cusp of 'giving birth' to a new form of civilization. However, the costs to our society, both pecuniary and spiritual, of putting not only all of the current generation of elderly to their rest, but every last Baby Boomer as well, is mind boggling. Every government report or think tank I've ever referred to has been quoted as saying that we're going to have to make some tough choices, otherwise, our resources, both material and spiritual, which are already stretched to the breaking point, will not survive.

Therefore, I feel that 'dying with dignity' is NOT an oxymoron, but a very viable spiritual egress to a very real temporal problem. The fact that certain temporal or spiritual abuses, even of an egregious nature, might result from it, should not stop us from approaching this critical issue with courage and resolve.

Sting once said that we were 'spirits in the material world' when he was with the Police pop rock group. How true. Blue Oyster Cult also had an observation on the issue: They wrote a song called 'Don't fear the reaper'. In it they say that 'the seasons don't fear the reaper, neither the wind nor the sun or the rain...', meaning we shouldn't fear death, that it is a natural part of our journey of life.

I'm sure Mr. Jetchik can relate to such spiritual issues of a practical nature. He too will one day face the reaper, and either he or his loved ones will have to decide whether or not he wishes to be a pawn of the bio-medical corporate establishment, or truly use his God-given faculties to discern the will of God for himself.

Maybe then he might decide that it's in everyone's interest, including that of the Creator, to pull the plug and go, as Deep Purple put it, ‘Space Truckin',' - with the angels, that is.


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