Saturday, 7 January 2017

The Death of Life in Belgium

Too Heavy To Be Borne

In June 2015, The New Yorker published an article by Rachel Aviv, entitled "The Death Treatment:
When should people with a non-terminal illness be helped to die?"

It is a long article, but a very necessary read for anyone who wants an insight into the mindset of secular humanism.  While the article deals specifically with the death culture in Belgium, it implicitly confronts every secularist in the West.  It also exposes what happens when a culture makes death a matter of human wilfulness.

We encourage everyone to read the full piece.  But, below are some excerpts--with a brief commentary.
 In Belgium, euthanasia is embraced as an emblem of enlightenment and progress, a sign that the country has extricated itself from its Catholic, patriarchal roots. Distelmans, [a euthanizer] who was brought up as a Catholic and then rejected the Church, told me that his work is inspired by an aversion to all forms of paternalism. “Who am I to convince patients that they have to suffer longer than they want?” he said.
When a human being is made the final and absolute authority in all things--as secular humanism does--all must bow before the sovereign.
 This explains why Europe has fallen to its knees before the suicide bomber and the terrorist.  The Islamic murderer has a will, a personality.  He is a sovereign being.  To resist him is to be paternalistic--the cardinal sin of a humanist society.  The European aversion to all forms of paternalism, and the insistence that doctrines of human rights require society's complicit acceptance and support and encouragement of the wills and decisions of others, has meant that Europe remains paralyzed, a rabbit caught in the headlights, asthe  malign wilfulness of terrorism and other curses bear down upon it.
In the past five years, the number of euthanasia and assisted-suicide deaths in the Netherlands has doubled, and in Belgium it has increased by more than a hundred and fifty per cent. Although most of the Belgian patients had cancer, people have also been euthanized because they had autism, anorexia, borderline personality disorder, chronic-fatigue syndrome, partial paralysis, blindness coupled with deafness, and manic depression. In 2013, Wim Distelmans euthanized a forty-four-year-old transgender man, Nathan Verhelst, because Verhelst was devastated by the failure of his sex-change surgeries; he said that he felt like a monster when he looked in the mirror. “Farewell, everybody,” Verhelst said from his hospital bed, seconds before receiving a lethal injection.
There is a connection between euthanasia and evolutionism.  Self-willed and assisted dying is seen as a necessary corollary of evolutionary theory and ethics.
Humanist values are also taught in state schools, in a course called non-confessional ethics, which is taken by secular children from first through twelfth grade, while religious students pursue theological studies. The course emphasizes autonomy, free inquiry, democracy, and an ethics based on reason and science, not on revelation. Jan Bernheim, an emeritus professor of medicine at the Free University of Brussels, who studies ethics and quality of life, told me that euthanasia is “part of a philosophy of taking control of one’s own existence and improving the objective conditions for happiness. There is an arrow of evolution that goes toward ever more reducing of suffering and maximizing of enjoyment.” 
It's all about Me.  That is one of the logical arrows of evolutionism.  The anthem rings out, "I am the master of my fate, and nothing human is foreign to me"--including killing myself.  Anyone who would intervene or oppose my sovereign will to die, is a heretic, denying the secular fundamentalism.  Thirty years ago, this particular application of evolutionism would have seemed abhorrent to most.  Now, in Belgium and the Netherlands, it is ordinary, obvious position for society to take.

Euthanasia is also a solution to the humanist dilemma: if all there is is me, what happens if I turn out to be a failure.  The narcissism, whilst not unexpected in a secular humanist society, is startling nonetheless.
 De Wachter believes that the country’s approach to suicide reflects a crisis of nihilism created by the rapid secularization of Flemish culture in the past thirty years. Euthanasia became a humanist solution to a humanist dilemma. “What is life worth when there is no God?” he said. “What is life worth when I am not successful?” He said that he has repeatedly been confronted by patients who tell him, “I am an autonomous decision-maker. I can decide how long I live. When I think my life is not worth living anymore, I must decide.” He recently approved the euthanasia of a twenty-five-year-old woman with borderline personality disorder who did not “suffer from depression in the psychiatric sense of the word,” he said. “It was more existential; it was impossible for her to have a goal in this life.” He said that her parents “came to my office, got on their knees, and begged me, ‘Please, help our daughter to die.’ ”
The full piece provides a frightening confirmation of what happens to humans in a society which  places itself at the centre of being.

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