Day after day we are assaulted with the idea, fundamental to the assisted suicide movement, that some lives are not worth living and hence, not worth protecting from suicide. This advocacy, I believe, does not really promote liberty and freedom, but rather, endangers lives--of the elderly, people with disabilities and mental illnesses, and those with terminal or chronic diseases--by confirming their worst fears about their futures and their human worth.
Contrary messages are sometimes made, as I strive to report here at SHS and elsewhere, but do not seem to penetrate as deeply as the "death with dignity" meme, perhaps because they require a deeper empathy and lack the power of repetition. Along this line, I think it is important to acknowledge the death of Christopher Nolan, a man profoundly disabled by cerebral palsy who wrote about the power of love in his life. From Raymond Arroyo's blog:
He published his first book at 15, a collection of poems appropriately titled Dam-burst of Dreams. His second book won Britain's prestigious "Whitbread Book of the Year:" in 1988. It was called Under the Eye of the Clock, a biographical work in which he refers to himself as Joseph Meehan. At one point in the book Nolan writes of crying upon the realization that he is not like other children: "Looking through his tears he saw [his mother] bent low in order to look into his eyes. '... Listen here Joseph, you can see, you can hear, you can think, you can understand everything you hear. You like your food, you like nice clothes, you are loved by me and Dad. We love you just as you are.'
Pussing still, sniveling still, he was listening to his mother's voice. She spoke sort of matter-of-factly but he blubbered moaning sounds. His mother said her say and that was that. She got on with her work while he got on with his crying.The decision arrived at that day, was burnt forever in his mind. He was only three years in age but he was now fanning the only spark he saw, his being alive and more immediate, his being wanted just as he was....
It important to note that Nolan gained the insight of the sheer equal worth of his life before the the assisted suicide movement and medical utilitarianism, with which we are now badly infected, had metastasized to the point that many people approve people like Christopher going to Kevorkian or being flown to Switzerland for a dose of suicide tourism.
During the Q and A session after my recent speech at the Parliament Building in London, a representative from Not Dead Yet UK dramatically described the increasing fear and anguish he feels as a man with serious disabilities at being viewed by many in society as having a life not worth living. "The despair is hard to combat," he said.
We must all strive against the devaluing message he reported and with all of the energy we possess. One way is to point to Christopher Nolan's vivid life and its clear illustration that the true answer to the difficulties of human suffering isn't killing, it is love.