June 20, 2016

CBC interview with Jean Vanier about euthanasia promotes culture of death

Brett FawcettRebel Blogger

If you ever wanted to know what some observers mean when they speak of “the culture of death,” just listen the recent interview by CBC Radio’s Carol Off with Jean Vanier.

Jean Vanier is the founder of L’Arche, “the Ark”, an international network of communities that care for the mentally disabled by putting them, not in hospitals or “care centres”, but in homes—real homes. Rather than treating those with intellectual disabilities as inconveniences to be shuffled out of the way, L’Arche assistants treat them as core members in the community life they share.

In a recent editorial for the Globe and Mail, Vanier commented on the looming physician-assisted suicide legislation in Canada, warning that “we must take care not to obscure or forget the innate dignity of those who are vulnerable”.

He believes we should always ensure that, rather than forcing everyone to feel like they have to be independent (thus leading them to fear becoming useless burdens in their old age), we should instead focus on allowing people to accept their own fragility and realize that they are loved and meaningful not just for what they can do, but for who they are.

This whole philosophy is a warm contrast to the cold, contemporary idea that if someone seems too broken to enjoy life sufficiently, then the best option is to help that person kill him or herself.

If you want to see how ingrained that latter mentality is, listen to Carol Off’s interview with Vanier for CBC.  Her questions, over and over, circle back to the same basic script:

Should Canada legally allow doctor-assisted suicide?

And, over and over, Vanier refuses to let himself be locked into this merciless mentality of the secular world.

Off is asking the wrong questions: When someone is ill and wants to die, the question isn’t: Should we craft legislation to ensure that they can? The proper question is: How do we prevent people from feeling that way?

Vanier consistently counters Off’s queries with this (revolutionary!) attitude: If someone wants to die, they are probably depressed, or lonely, or feel useless or pressured. The remedy for this is to take every effort to ensure that every sick and ailing person feels loved and cared for so that this suicidal idea isn’t there in the first place.

This is a beautiful, life-affirming approach, which Off never engages. For example, when Vanier proposes that a better question is how to encourage palliative care, Off replies:

“Do you think that people should have the legal right to choose the timing of their death and to have assistance in doing that?”

Rather than asking this Order of Canada-winning humanitarian with over a half-century’s experience of caring for persons with disabilities and who are sick what strategies he recommends Canada put in place, she just keeps asking: Yeah, but shouldn’t we be allowed to help kill them, too?

He gently refuses to play this game, replying:

“People could go through periods of just fatigue, depression, loneliness. So we mustn't go too quick to just say, ‘there's a legal right’. They also have a legal right to be walked with, accompanied, and helped.”

Once again, rather than actually interacting with this, Off tries to nudge Vanier in the direction she wants him to go. “I know you’re not a lawyer,” she begins, patronizingly, “You talk about interdependence, and the importance of seeing families, but our Charter is based on the unit of society being the individual,” so shouldn’t the individual’s right to choose what he wants (even death) be enshrined in law?

No questions about what Vanier thinks of the proposed Vulnerable Persons Standard, which strives to protect people from being pressured into medically-administered death; no question of how society can seek to ensure more people feel loved and cared for. 

Once again, it comes back to—putting it bluntly—letting them die. And once again, he graciously sidesteps this morbidity:

“Lawmakers should also realize that the human being—we're born in weakness, and we die in weakness, and that we're all vulnerable, and that we all always need help. A society needs to encourage opening up our hearts to those who are weaker and more fragile.”

Finally—in a section not recorded in the official CBC transcript of this interview—Vanier makes this point explicitly:

“It’s not just a question of legislation about death, but we should also have legislation about life, to help people to live and to live fully and to create situations where people are in depression—communities where people can find healing…How can we encourage society to becoming more caring for the weak and the fragile?”

And he finally directly answers Off’s question, the only question she seems to ask for the entire interview:

“You will come back to the—you know, ‘shouldn’t we have legislation to permit this?’ I say, ‘Yes, but let’s put in safeguards.’  I mean, we need more and more people who will be mediators so that life will come! What is important is that people will be fully living!”

The problem is the extent to which Vanier was practically goaded into saying this. As he mentioned, Off kept coming back to this point of euthanizing the very sorts of people to whom Vanier has dedicated his whole life to meaningfully accompanying. His main point was that a society should be proactive in making the weak feel welcomed rather than inconvenient.

But the culture of moral libertinism—I can do whatever I want, as long as it doesn’t (seem to) hurt others—is, Vanier detects, the very culture which can do violence to a great many suffering people, and the fact that CBC’s anchors take it so much for granted that they can’t even follow the reasoning of someone who challenges it, should terrify us.

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commented 2016-06-22 13:16:02 -0400
Dear Anonymous:

In response to your statement regarding fear mongering.

Consider this:

No one has the right to take another persons life. By implicating doctors or Health Care workers you are making criminals of them.

No one can stop a person that is bent on ending their own life, though every effort should be made to do so.

Consider the danger of granting the right to the government of deciding who lives & who dies. The government is not God. They cannot grant absolution and assisted suicide is far too big a temptation to be used as a method of keeping health care costs; Pension costs & paliative care costs to a minimum.

Consider how simple it would be for these " Ethical moral care givers", to convince an elderly or feeble minded person to end their lives. Consider how simple it would be to forge documentation stating that they wanted to die.

You may also wish to consider what a great source for harvesting body parts!

How does the care giver know that the patient wishes to end their lives if they can no longer speak? Even if you have a living will that states you do not wish to die, how do you know it won’t be misplaced.

Are you really going to trust a " government Social worker, who is paid by the government to advocate for you? My guess is that they shall be advocating for the government. Are you truly going to be that gullible ?

This Euthanasia bill creates major loss of trust between doctor & patient. Client & Social Worker!

I for one shall never be able to trust any of them again.

Thomas Pratt
commented 2016-06-22 03:53:33 -0400
People may have the right to end their lives, but no one has the right to order someone else to assist in the termination of that life….. That’s an action they will have to live with for the rest of their lives. If it’s voluntary, fine. But no doctor should be required to assist with termination of life if it goes against their religion, conscience or moral code.
commented 2016-06-22 02:30:01 -0400
Why is it that some of you people have to start fear mongering on the topic of physician assisted suicide? You all seem to think that disabled or old people are going to be sent to some gas chamber by their families or the government. And next thing you know, the government will kill you because you exceeded your lifetime carbon production limit.
commented 2016-06-21 07:59:01 -0400
@ Ken Hanson commented 13 hours ago
Sorry everyone but some of us conservatives want the right to doctor assisted suicide.
As long as it is voluntary I have no problem.

However the day will come when they SEND for you.

With government you must always be wary
commented 2016-06-21 07:55:35 -0400
Within the next generation you will see people being summoned to be put down.

Cannot care for yourself?

A drain on the economy?

You will receive a mail out or an official visit from the government – time for you to put your affairs in order and report to the euthanasia centre in order to be disposed of.

If you refuse it will be done for you – with a percentage of whatever you have in your estate confiscated by the government to cover the costs. And over time that percentage take will rise.

Mark my words – some of you may live long enough to see it happen.
commented 2016-06-20 22:30:01 -0400
Jean Vanier is a beautiful promoter of life and meaningful living. That the CBC would give him a forum to express his views hardly promotes a culture of death. On the contrary his passion for life and the protection of the lives of others came through loud and clear.
commented 2016-06-20 20:29:23 -0400
L’Arche exists only for the intellectually disabled. Vanier does not speak for people with normal IQ that want death.
commented 2016-06-20 18:34:40 -0400
Sorry everyone but some of us conservatives want the right to doctor assisted suicide.
commented 2016-06-20 16:14:51 -0400
Death panels have arrived in North America.

Gov. Sarah Palin was…wrong?
commented 2016-06-20 14:02:34 -0400
Carol off , forbid that you should end up crippled or in later suffer the infirmities of old age, and that some tribunal should declare you eligible to be OFFED whether you agree or not
commented 2016-06-20 12:25:34 -0400
Well, let’s just hope that when this is the law – that all those depressed Libtards at the CBC are euthanized forth with!! What a bunch of mental midgets!
commented 2016-06-20 11:59:10 -0400
“…she begins, patronizingly, “You talk about interdependence, and the importance of seeing families, but our Charter is based on the unit of society being the individual,” so shouldn’t the individual’s right to choose what he wants (even death) be enshrined in law?”

Funny how a CBC hack will say this, when the first thing they approve of is circumventing individual rights in choosing life style and beliefs; or basic rights and freedoms. Instead being promulgators of imposed beliefs, values, etc. The last thing CBC hacks desire is for people to live lives individually without being told how to live them by the government.