Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A lifestyle choice?

"I loved him. I will miss him every day of my life. I will miss him every minute of every day. I thought the world of him. I couldn't have had a better son."

These are the words of a father whose son took his own life in a suicide pact with someone that he had met on the internet. You can read more in this report from the Indy. As a father myself, I found these words unbearably sad.

I recently wrote about an organisation called Exit International who offer seminars to people over 50 to tell them about End of Life choices - killing yourself in the most convenient and painless way possible. Exit are not, I must stress, implicated in this terrible case. But they are helping to make suicide respectable, attractive even. And what is to stop the odd, determined and depressed person under the age of 50 arming themselves with the necessary hints and tips from Exit to do what 35 year old Stephen Lumb and 34 year old Joanne Lee did? Who is to say that mum or dad having decided they were just a burden would not leave their children to deal with the consequences of opting to take one of Exit's 'Life Exit' choices? And supposing their children felt that maybe, doddery or not, they would rather their parents saw out their time with their love and support?

Where next? Can we expect a rallying cry from Rights activists saying that not only should we have the right to terminate life in the womb but we should be supportive when people feel they are past their sell-by date and help them take their lives? Is anyone interested? Does anyone care?

Monday, 20 September 2010

One way trip ........

The picture above is a moving scene from a film called 'Soylent Green', released in the early 70's. The late Edward G Robinson, plays Sol, a man living in New York around 2020. He is utterly devastated when he discovers a secret, state sponsored solution to deal with the problems of the overcrowded, polluted, environmentally devastated world he lives in. In this world the authorities permit (even encourage) people to die early and Sol elects to take this way out. He visits a clinic which duly obliges with the fatal injection, easing his passage to the next world by allowing him to watch panoramic scenes of awesome beauty to the background of Beethoven's Pastoral.

I was reminded of this film earlier this evening when I tuned in to Radio 4. I picked up on part of a programme called 'Choosing a Time to Die'. The bit I heard included an interview with Philip Nitschke, the founder of Exit International, an information and advocacy outfit that aims to raise awareness about 'End of Life choices' or voluntary euthanasia. This link to the BBC website offers a summary. Among Exit's service offerings are seminars to the over 50's on easy ways to commit suicide. The matter of fact way it was discussed was extremely disquieting.

I hope this is not the start of a new trend towards making VE respectable or a way of further aiding those who are campaigning to make assisted suicide legal. But a concept which 40 years ago seemed chillingly dystopian appears to be with us, here and now.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Message Received........

'For this reason I appeal in particular to you, the lay faithful, in accordance with your baptismal calling and mission, not only to be examples of faith in public, but also to put the case for the promotion of faith’s wisdom and vision in the public forum. Society today needs clear voices which propose our right to live, not in a jungle of self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms, but in a society which works for the true welfare of its citizens and offers them guidance and protection in the face of their weakness and fragility. Do not be afraid to take up this service to your brothers and sisters, and to the future of your beloved nation.'

So spoke the Holy Father at yesterday's mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow. I found these words inspiring. Is there anything in those words that any Christian - and not just Roman Catholics - could take issue with? I say this because the anti-Papal (he's German so he must be planning to invade Europe shortly, he's promoting paedophilia) sentiment which is very evident at present is not just coming from atheist fundamentalists. It is coming from within the Christian community too, in one case openly supporting the National Secular Society. So it's not just Ian Paisley but what I hope would normally be more informed and thoughtful voices from within the CofE. Presumably these people skip over the 'One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church' bit when they recite the Creed on a Sunday. All very sad.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

With friends like these..........

This is the list of the great and good who signed a letter - from the look of things drafted for them by those good people in the National Secular Society - in today's Guardian protesting at the fact that the Pope's visit to the UK is a state visit:

Stephen Fry, Professor Richard Dawkins, Professor Susan Blackmore, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, Ed Byrne, Baroness Blackstone, Ken Follett, Professor AC Grayling, Stewart Lee, Baroness Massey, Claire Rayner, Adele Anderson, John Austin MP, Lord Avebury, Sian Berry, Professor Simon Blackburn, Sir David Blatherwick, Sir Tom Blundell, Dr Helena Cronin, Dylan Evans, Hermione Eyre, Lord Foulkes, Professor Chris French, Natalie Haynes, Johann Hari, Jon Holmes, Lord Hughes, Robin Ince, Dr Michael Irwin, Professor Steve Jones, Sir Harold Kroto, Professor John Lee, Zoe Margolis, Jonathan Meades, Sir Jonathan Miller, Diane Munday, Maryam Namazie, David Nobbs, Professor Richard Norman, Lord O'Neill, Simon Price, Paul Rose, Martin Rowson, Michael Rubenstein, Joan Smith, Dr Harry Stopes-Roe, Professor Raymond Tallis, Lord Taverne, Peter Tatchell, Baroness Turner, Professor Lord Wedderburn of Charlton QC FBA, Ann Marie Waters, Professor Wolpert, Jane Wynne Willson

Good for them that they can get these things off their chest and thanks to the Guardian who decided to let them share it with the rest of us. They have now had their say. I hope they have the courtesy and good grace now to step back and allow the visit to continue as planned. As so many of them are such sanctimonious windbags this may require a supreme effort of self restraint. But we live in hope, eh..?

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Back to Business

A short break on the Algarve (just: I got the day wrong and we only just made it to the airport in time) to recharge the batteries. Having eaten well, slept soundly and got a bit of golf in I returned to find the country in chaos. Charlton, on the wrong end of a late penalty at Exeter have now slipped further down League 1, the Coalition government is embroiled in scandals (phone hacking and shared hotel rooms) and Stephen Hawking confirms there is no God. Enough to tempt one back onto the plane and head back to Portugal.
Fortunately September is the month when things do start getting back to normal. This article by Michael Bywater in Saturday's Independent captures the mood perfectly. And on reflection there is a lot to look forward to: my son embarking on his university studies; taking my daughter out for some driving lessons; the Holy Father's visit later in the month and the prospect for some renewal of spiritual life in the UK; even the party conference season and in particular the Labour leadership election.
I'm ready to roll.