Bob Schieffer, of CBS News, recently lamented on the condition of the world. It’s gone mad, he said. Then he quoted Will Durant.
“Barbarism, like the jungle, does not die out, but only retreats behind the barriers that civilization has thrown up against it, and waits there always to reclaim that to which civilization has temporarily laid claim.”
I have the 1927 edition of Durant’s book “The Story of Philosophy”. It is a treasure for so many reasons. I found it in my father’s library, long after he had passed away. I have come to love and respect Durant’s reflections. Based on the wisdom of Durant I can safely say Belgium is in the process of being reclaimed by the jungle.
Belgium is losing the most important, most revolutionary piece of civilization-respect for the sanctity of life. All life. Not that long ago it was common practice to sacrifice women and children to the gods, often having to do with fertility—personally and agriculturally. Sadly, sacrificing human beings still continues at the hands of present day barbarians.
We are forgetting that life is sacred. As children of God we are all equal, all equally loved and valued, and that value is intrinsic. We are loved for being, for existing, not for what we do or how we can be used. And for those who do not believe in God then believe in the words of the secular ethicist, Immanuel Kant, 18th-century German philosopher, founder of critical philosophy that embraced deontological ethics, an ethics of absolutes-like ethical monotheism commonly referred to as the Judeo/Christian ethic.
He wrote of the categorical imperative. Simply put, if something is good for one, it is good for all. If suicide is acceptable for one then it is acceptable for all. But as that is counter-productive to a thriving society, Kant, in his secular way, acknowledged that life is sacred, has intrinsic value, and suicide is an absolute no.
Life is a gift. One not always appreciated. It does not come with guarantees.
When we lose sight of life having intrinsic value we demean civilization—the kind that is practiced in the West. And by practiced I mean we are still working at it and have a long way to go. Unfortunately Belgium is becoming a bellwether for the breakdown of civilization in the West. Belgium is devolving. She has let go of the foundation of Western culture-the sanctity of life.
Belgium is going through a “changing ethical paradigm” that has led to a growing and thriving euthanasia industry. Last year Dr. Wim Distelmans euthanized 45-year-old deaf twins, Marc and Eddy, because they were going blind and feared life without being able to see each other. “Their great fear was that they would no longer be able to see each other. That was for my brothers unbearable,” explained Dirk Verbessem. These two men wanted to die not because of pain they were suffering-but fear of future pain.
Yet fear is part of the human condition; fear and its sister—anxiety. They live deep within our brain-in the amygdala, often called the reptilian brain. Those before us survived because of that deep respect for the unknown. Here is Belgium defying evolution—so quick and happy about killing people because they fear what might be. And then they call it death with dignity. And progressive. Perhaps enlightened. Why should fearful people have to deal with fear? Why should people have to deal with elements of the human condition that don’t meet their entitled expectations? Not a problem. Just kill them—for their own peace of mind.
It turns out that Dr. Distelmans isn’t content with his practice. He needs more stimulation. A new look at his views. So he is taking a group of people to Auschwitz “for an instructional tour on euthanasia.” In a travel brochure he describes Auschwitz as “an inspiring venue for organizing a seminar and reflecting on these issues (about euthanasia) so that we can consider and clarify confusions.”
He is going to Auschwitz to clarify confusions about killing people. First the disabled—physically and mentally. He’s got that right. What will he and his cohorts learn after that, do you suppose?
As one journalist wrote: “Dr Distelmans is allowing himself to be associated with the medical faculty of Auschwitz University, a confraternity which included such illustrious researchers as Dr. Josef Mengele, Dr. Eduard Wirths. Dr. Horst Schumann and Dr. Carl Clauberg.”
There is a stench in the air in the halls of medicine in Belgium. So I suppose it should come as no surprise that a “doctor” in Belgium refused to provide care for a patient, despite his Hippocratic Oath. After all, doctors are going to Auschwitz for inspiration.
When this on-call doctor received a call from an elderly Jewish woman (how did he know she was Jewish?) who was in pain, he refused to come to her aid. And then he repeated his refusal to her son. He replied “I’m not coming, send her to Gaza for a few hours, then she’ll get rid of the pain.” Seems he sees himself more as a humourist than a doctor. When asked about his behaviour his excuse was that he was having an emotional breakdown. Well, time to call Dr. Distelmans. He has a cure for that!
In Calgary, Canada, a doctor at a walk-in clinic informed patients that she did not prescribe birth control. A patient at the clinic saw the sign and became apoplectic. “Shocked and outraged” actually. And complained. Trevor Theman, registrar with the medical board, said a delay in receiving a birth control prescription is “not likely going to disadvantage a patient in a serious way.” But that complaint went viral. Women all a-fluster over a delay in receiving birth control. It was a travesty.
The response of the doctor in Belgium to the elderly Jewish woman is chillingly too reminiscent of the behaviour prior to the Shoah. Refusing care because she is a Jew. Where is the world uproar? Is the access to contraceptives more important than saving a Jewish life? Has the world gone mad?
Diane Weber Bederman is a blogger for Times of Israel, a contributor to Convivium, a national magazine about faith in our community, and also writes about family issues and mental illness. She is a multi-faith endorsed hospital trained chaplain. Read Diane’s new book: Back to the Ethic:Reclaiming Western Values
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