Chang­ing the way we look at things

Wit­ness­ing a slow and mer­ci­less death made the risk of hell look like a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive

Cape Breton Post - - Editorial - Ray Mor­ri­son Guest Shot Ray Mor­ri­son is a re­tired teacher who lives in River Ryan with wife Anita and daugh­ter Janet.

I would like to re­spond to a let­ter by An­gela MacDougall (“Clergy must fo­cus on hu­man life,” Cape Bre­ton Post, May 11).

I have no doubt that MacDougall’s re­li­gious be­liefs are deeply held and that she is sin­cere in ev­ery word of her let­ter.

How­ever, I would like to ex­press other views. There is an ex­pres­sion: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” This an­i­mated piece of dust we call our bod­ies is only a wrap­ping for an eter­nal soul. It was for our souls that Je­sus went to the cross.

In your let­ter, you wrote about a man who had al­ready de­cided to end his life with as­sisted sui­cide and de­scribed his de­ci­sion as be­ing evil. How can you pos­si­bly know this? This poor soul must have reached peace with God as he knew Him. If he made his de­ci­sion freely, then how dare we ob­ject if our back­ground would lead us to choose oth­er­wise?

There are mil­lions of peo­ple who do not be­lieve in God, but, doesn’t our faith teach us that there are no peo­ple in whom God does not be­lieve? We stand on slip­pery ground when we pass judge­ment on the lives of broth­ers and sis­ters about whom we know so very lit­tle. We did not walk the ex­act path of any other hu­man be­ing. We can­not know the myr­iad phys­i­cal, spir­i­tual, emo­tional and so­cial fac­tors that must have lead to such a de­ci­sion. Only God knows us per­fectly and there­fore only God can make sound fi­nal judge­ment re­gard­ing any per­son.

In sit­u­a­tions where we can­not do any­thing to af­fect the course of an­other’s ac­tions, doesn’t it make good sense to let go and let God? Isn’t that ex­actly what Pope Fran­cis did for the man you cited? Fran­cis told the man to go with God. I can think of a no more lov­ing send-off than that. A well-placed bless­ing can some­times re­sult in un­ex­pected re­wards. Isn’t that the rea­son we pray?

I once shared the same feel­ings and be­liefs to­ward as­sisted death as you now ex­press. In 1990, my older sis­ter, Edith, also shared those views when she first de­vel­oped ALS, bet­ter known as Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease. Our fam­ily and friends were forced to look dif­fer­ently at some be­liefs we held and, over the next seven years, they changed as a re­sult. Sue Ro­drigues had been pe­ti­tion­ing our fed­eral gov­ern­ment for the right to as­sisted sui­cide for a num­ber of years and our whole fam­ily thought and be­lieved that it was an evil goal she sought.

A few months be­fore Edith died, she told us that Sue was not mis­guided in seek­ing re­lief from a slow and in­evitable death. It took seven years and unimag­ined fi­nan­cial and emo­tional tolls on her three young chil­dren, her hus­band and ev­ery one of us who loved this lady.

Edith never smoked, never drank, al­ways ex­er­cised and watched what she ate. My sis­ter was Christ-cen­tered all her life, but as the death neared, she be­came im­pa­tient with even those who loved her most. Edith loved mar­riage and each of her three young chil­dren. She did not want to leave them but re­al­ized that this choice was not hers to make.

On Aug. 27, 1997, my sis­ter drew her last breath at the age of 52. ALS had fi­nally de­feated and taken my sis­ter from all of us. We had been pray­ing that God would take her as she slept but in the last mo­ments of her life, my much-loved sis­ter choked on her own vomit; to­tally un­able to move so that she could draw even one more breath.

We had all wit­nessed a slow and mer­ci­less de­scent into a sit­u­a­tion that, to us, made the risk of hell look like a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive. The only dif­fer­ence to us was that ALS was tem­po­ral and Hell was eter­nal.

Fi­nally, you are only partly cor­rect in stat­ing that the clergy must fo­cus on sav­ing hu­man life. Rather, it is the sa­cred duty of ev­ery sin­gle Chris­tian, whether Cleric re­li­gious or laity to cause change in ev­ery en­vi­ron­ment they en­ter by sim­ply show­ing peo­ple the love God has for each of them and thereby en­cour­ag­ing them to use the tal­ents and abil­i­ties God gave them to make this world and their lives bet­ter for all.

“In the last mo­ments of her life, my much-loved sis­ter choked on her own vomit.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.