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We all have a role to stop euthanasia. But the task is monumental. Be ready.

by | Aug 22, 2016

By Charles Lewis

Editor’s note. This was reposted at the blog of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

euthanasia99Over the past few years many of us have written and spoken about the evils of euthanasia. Part of me always has wondered why this was such tough sell. After all, our basic instincts tell us that those who are hurt and sick should be cared for.

There is nothing radical in this. Even in war enemy combatants will often tend to the enemy’s wounded out of a sense of some basic decency.

Those healing instincts are born of morality. It does not have to be religious morality but some code that is ingrained that, like a compass, always points in the same direction.

So perhaps the problem is that we are becoming immoral. Whatever foundation was there is crumbling under the weight of cynicism.

A moral society assumes certain things: When we talk to each other we are more or less speaking the same language based on the same basic ethos of our community. Anyone who has tried in the past few years to argue against euthanasia, even among religious people, will know that this commonality is fading fast.

In most of the discussions I ended up feeling as if I was speaking in a strange tongue. This was not a case of simple disagreement but something far beyond that. It was as if two separate conversations were going on with nothing linking the participants except animosity and confusion.

In other words it was two people coming from different cultures without either side being able to relate to the other.

For those of us of a certain age and persuasion it is akin to feeling lost. I ask myself all the time how did we slip so far into an abyss in which basic morality, a clear definition of what is right and what is wrong, has become so muddled.

When I was growing up, in the 1950s and 60s, there seemed to be some things that were considered wrong: these were premises agreed on by people who were Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and even those thoroughly secular.

The idea of killing someone who was sick would have seemed barbaric. All these were seen as failures against the common good. There was a sense of a community standard that everyone had a stake in. No doubt this could turn judgmental and possibly even cruel but those attitudes were the extreme.

My own view is that it is the decline of religion and a belief in God. That cannot be the only answer, however.

We grew up in Brooklyn. Their history was typical of the people I grew up with. Our grandparents and parents lived through the Depression. Our fathers fought in the Second World War. In the 1950s they were happy to be alive and enjoyed a success that in the midst of the 1930s or at the height of the war were impossible to imagine.

Those experiences forged comradery. People were pro-life, in the broadest sense of the term because they knew what misery looked like especially those who survived the war. Everywhere there were European refugees; many with numbers on their arms who were simply thankful to not have the state classify them as subhuman and unworthy. And many families, like mine, had relatives that did not come back from the war, a constant reminder of sacrifice for all.

Now we have a society, in general, that has little time for religion. It sees morality as artificial and a hindrance to freedom. We live in a culture that has more gadgets that is causing isolation. We are bombarded with tons of information that is essentially useless for leading a good, moral life.

Try to be serious and someone makes a joke because being serious gets in the way of fun.

Of course, there are many people who are the exception to what I have described and thank God for them.

For those of us who believe the battle against euthanasia is not over, as I do, I write this as a reminder of what we are up against. It is not just a matter of disagreement over an issue. If only it were so.

We can still stop people from being abandoned to death by assisted suicide and euthanasia. We must see each person who opts for the needle as a personal defeat. Nothing is in isolation. A man who is killed with the help of a physician will have sent a message to friends and family that medical murder is fine.

We all have a role to stop this. But the task is monumental. Be ready. Otherwise you will be speaking into the wind.

Charles Lewis is an anti-euthanasia speaker and writer. He writes a column twice a month for Toronto’s Catholic Register newspaper.

Categories: Euthanasia