Something disturbing happened outside a Toronto abortion clinic a few weeks back; a skirmish erupted whereby a young lady got roundhouse kicked in the face by a total stranger. The young lady had a sign encouraging those who would show up at the clinic to go for another option. She was a “right-to-life” advocate. Her assailant was defending the right to... I’m not exactly sure what, but his willingness to go directly to violence in the name of his own brand of virtue says a lot.
Right to life. It sounds like a given, rolling off the tongue - and yet it is a stance that has been excoriated by the media, including our boy Prime Minister who errantly wraps himself in the mantle of the Canadian Charter, claiming that abortion is a Charter right.
We seem to be plunging into an abyss whereby the “right to death” has taken popular hold of peoples’ imaginations instead, at least if you are to be shepherded by the buzz of the press. Sick Kids Hospital in downtown Toronto has been caught up in the recent rush by the same Prime Minister to ensure the right to physician-assisted suicide. The hospital came into notice because apparently the same hospital that has comforted and cared for children for 143 years, can now as easily dispatch them legally, all under the name of kindness and virtue. More chilling, no parental assent required. The child can now appeal to the state as the proper arbiter of such issues.
It’s almost Oprah. “...and you get a free death, and you get a free death, and you get a free death...” except that it is so chilling at its core. I have been peripherally aware of a number of deaths due to suicide, and the families were appropriately destraught that their loved one would consider that choice better than living. Most chilling is the silent figure of the state standing behind such shifts in public opinion as a stakeholder – as if facilitating but not directly responsible. And yet, we all know that in truth, a scheduled death is a cost savings to the system. It is cheaper than keeping people alive; especially infants and old people who are “useless” to the industrial economy. Hitler would be lighting a big fat cigar in his grave over that one, I think.
Back when I used to be a court sketch artist, death of course was a recurring theme. You were generally there because someone died, and no one was celebrating. It also meant that there was someone criminally responsible who was not very “right to life”. Part of the whole court thing, is an examination further upstream to find indicators which might lead someone to murder. One recurring theme came up. Those who killed were often deeply immersed in a nihilistic sub-culture like hard-core heavy metal music, which celebrated death to the point of fixation. They had gotten the pitch early on that death was a really great thing. The courts and families of the deceased chose to differ on that one.
But perhaps not for much longer. Death has been getting the soft-sell treatment in the media for a long time. Forces behind the scenes are seeking to shift public opinion. The young lady at the abortion clinic getting kicked in the face is a logical conclusion when the State itself bears a chalice of poison hemlock.
As a citizen and stakeholder, it would be good to carve out a solid opinion rather than be subtly manipulated. I do not want to be one of those who was carelessly swayed about important issues without a second thought.
The image at the beginning of this blog post is from the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. I paid premium price last year to line up with the thousands just to stand for a few moments in that room, gazing upward at the constellation of images Michelangelo had painted over the course of four years.
I ended up like a lot of people, surreptitiously hovering beneath the image of God and Adam, and even snapping off a few forbidden shots without a flash, from hip level. From the myriad of religious frescos painted on the ceiling, this one is likely the most reproduced all around the world. It is familiar with people. It is the divine touch whereby God gives Adam the gift of life. People unconsciously celebrate that image.
It reminds me of the directive passed on to the wandering tribes of Israel in the desert, when Moses was dying, and passed on the leadership to Joshua. It is found in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 30. He offers the people two alternatives going forward. What they go with, will be a judgement on the fate of their society on into the future.
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”
It is the basic twin forks in the road. One road is better and one is worse. It is up to you, to choose. It sounds fairly prosaic and yet it set out a watershed moment... that the fate of a people might be determined by what they value. It could be that like Michelangelo’s fresco of Creation, life is a gift and the best consideration might be how best to make it worthwhile.
The choice we are being sold nowadays also kills the human spirit. Peddling death, might be the most negative choice at our doorstep. Would it not be better to go with those things which speak to faith and value beyond the ledger sheet? Is seems like an issue you would not have to argue over.
I remember my Mom relating that shortly before my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, she had a nightmare. She was standing at the door of the house, and the black shrouded figure of Death strolled right on up the walkway and into the house. It was a nightmare because she was instinctively horrified. And so, appropriately might we be.
No matter the claims of the State, it could be that the grinning shadow standing waiting off to stage left, is not your friend. Therefore, choose life... might be the best advice for a society going forward. One can only hope.