Three things first…
The first literary mention of compassion in ancient Greece occurs about 300 years before the time of Christ. The term, splagsnon referred to the viscera of an animal used in religious rituals to determine the future. Over time this came to refer to one’s own visceral feelings in regard to the future. Eventually the term – compassion – evolved into being viscerally moved by another’s plight, and today includes the action of meeting this other’s needs on their terms. Humans vary in how compassionate they are, all the way from exceptionally compassionate to being totally void of compassion. There is no single answer as to why this variation occurs, but it does.
Dying is a process; under natural conditions it involves a greater or shorter time of demise. To say that killing is actually a part of the dying process is a contradiction in terms. If someone is dying and then they are killed…it’s killing, because the dying process was interrupted. Actually caring for those who are dying also reminds carers of their own mortality, which is something essential to taking one’s rightful place in society and the world. Likewise, just as when people are ill, so it is that during this time of failure when those who care for the dying actually learn to be compassionate. Compassion is not learned in a vacuum. The actual process of dying is three-fold in grounding humans in being human.
Likewise, compassion is performed in response to people’s needs, not their wants or desires.
I recently visited with a man who works in the health system in Saskatchewan. As non-Canadian readers might not be aware, Canada allows doctors to administer lethal does of drugs to people who request that their life be ended provided that these people meet certain medical criteria in regard to terminal illness.
As I wrote of earlier, this is now being offered to people, and in at least one case of which I am aware, was the only option offered to someone who was told that they had only a very short time left to live. The person to whom this was offered became exceptionally upset, and because of the Saskatchewan government cutting all chaplains from their budget this past spring, there was no advocate for them who could inform them that there were other options. Because of the opaque nature of Saskatchewan’s hospital entry forms, this person had not been aware that they had answered the form in a way that disallowed outside clergy to even visit them, which they had not intended to do. The irony is that the hospital in which they lay had a palliative care unit, which itself had been hailed as progressive and innovative by the Canadian government just a couple of decades ago.
When assisted suicide was first federally proposed in Canada several years ago it was allegedly in response to requests made by a few individuals; now it seems to be a show case for the economic efficiency of the entire Canadian medical system. This stinks to heaven of people’s length of life now being governed by the budgets of provincial legislatures and has nothing to do with actual care/compassion.
The man with whom I recently visited stated that they are now hearing that doctor supervised death is being promoted as compassionate. In light of everything above, this is most certainly anything but compassionate. Why? Because with modern medicine no one needs to suffer during natural death…so why the need to hurry this along? Why? Because being a person places you in community, and that community learns about itself and learns how to be compassionate during the end of life that other humans go through. Why? Because one’s own mortality comes to the fore when dealing with anothers. Why? Because dying is a process, not an act. To make it an act is murder. And that is why the term M.A.I.D. -medical assistance in dying – is anathema. It is not compassionate, except in some truly twisted sense. How did the desires of a few become imposed on the many for the sake of saving money? Is it possible that the medical community itself conspired along with the government to create this perfect storm whereby everyone’s life is just one more step controlled by parliamentary and legislative, non-compassionate budgets, set up by party politics. I think it has. And I also think that all of this smoke is nothing more than revealing that M.A.I.D. is in fact M.A.I.M. – medical assistance in murder. It’s just that simple.
It’s the same rationale as saying that since so many people in Yemen are going to die from the largest cholera outbreak in modern history, it only makes sense to continue bombing them into oblivion to relieve their suffering…right?