Welcome back!

school-primer2We just wanted to say welcome back to Queen’s for 2016-2017! We have 8 members on the Executive this year, and we are all extremely excited for all the year has to bring! Keep an eye out for the “Meet the Executive” post coming soon! 🙂

Love is the Solution

     In June there was a free vote in Quebec for bill 52 titled “An Act respecting end-of-life care.” The bill states the specific requirements for one to receive “aid in dying”—permission for a physician to administer life-ending drugs to an “end of life” patient. Votes were in favour. The bill was deemed a matter of criminal code (federal level) instead of health care (provincial) and so could not take effect. But the conversation is thick in the air and the Supreme Court is now hearing cases for the legalization of assisted suicide. End of life matters are so much more visible than unborn matters. People are sympathetic because they can see the pain individuals are in. With the same mentality as those who would advise a woman to abort a child with a positive Down Syndrome diagnosis, so too people wish the sick, the dying, the suffering to be able to escape the pain into death. It seems that there is much fear in suffering, in aging. There will always be suffering in the world. But that doesn’t mean that there can’t be good in that suffering. I want to live in a world where we solve problems instead of killing people.
     In our pursuit for the protection of life from conception to natural death it seems difficult to discuss “assisted dying.” Seeing someone at the end of their life—suffering—causes much emotional pain. But killing to end pain is such a heart breaking ‘solution.’ To those of us who have had pain in our lives we know that it isn’t about ending our life to stop the pain but receiving love and support from loved ones and health care professionals. Improving how people are treated and viewed is the solution. Love is the solution.
     We know there is hope. We know that as we improve palliative care, as we seek to comfort and love the sick and dying, that fewer people desire euthanasia. If people who are treated properly don’t desire euthanasia then the problem can’t be that ‘aid in dying’ isn’t available but that people feel useless, unloved, and burdensome. As we seek to uphold the dignity of life from conception to natural death we must not forget those on the other side of the spectrum. Their lives are being threatened. Instead of killing people let us seek to heal them with all the love and respect we can give.
– by Ashley Vandermeer

The Best Gift the Giver Could Give

       Imagine a world without pain, a world without fear, hunger, worry, or illness – a seemingly perfect world. This is the society of “The Giver”… So, how can we reach this “ideal” in our own society? It seems we’ve begun to apply the same methods referenced in the book and movie. They take out pain, choice, fear and illness, along with dignity, love and a full life.

       First and foremost, there is the problem of pain. So many things cause pain, but we can hide or avoid them, at least until we pass that pain onto someone else. For the pain we can’t displace to others, we can keep it hidden so that we don’t have to deal with that bothersome “compassion” that makes us feel others’ pain as if it were our own. We have gotten pretty good at this already: hiding the blood from abortions so that mothers are numb to the reality that their children are dead, hiding the truth of post-abortion effects and hiding graphic images – all like the Elders, who hid the community from the true nature of things. Through the manipulation of language, it is quite easy to be indifferent to injustices; for example, using “product of conception”, “fetus”, and “abortion” instead of “baby” and “murder”. We just can’t let people like Jonas realize that “[our society] hadn’t eliminated murder, [we] had brought it home. [We] had just called it by a different name.”
Another issue is choice. We all value the ability to choose. To get rid of the responsibility that comes along with choice, we first have to get rid of that notion of ‘wrong’ that’s so objective. Therefore the assumption is made that all choices are good choices. Sometimes this means the freedom to choose is valued more than life itself. But what could be more valuable than life itself?

       The other task we must accomplish if we want a world like that in “The Giver” is to take away fear – that unpleasant emotion indicating that we could experience pain. We have become experts in suppressing and ignoring fear instead of sharing that burden with others. In the film, the Giver must take on all the painful memories, just as we leave the post-abortion mothers to hold all her suffering without support. For instance, imagine a mother who wants to keep her baby but has run out of savings, lost her job, and is homeless. Of course she wants what is good for her child, but she is afraid…and left alone in her fear (adapted real examples from http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/09/my-year-as-an-abortion-doula.html). We need to get rid of this fear, so we get rid of the pregnancy.

       Difference causes discrimination, envy, abnormalities – so the end goal is to get to Sameness, as they do in the story. Illness, one cause of difference, is quite easy to eliminate: just don’t allow fetal abnormalities to reach birth. The defective old and young are just removed in the book. This would be much more difficult if love existed in “The Giver”. Blood families are separated to prevent the mother from loving her child, or seeing that the child loves her back – just as mothers in our society are told to abort before they meet their babies. Society avoids the risk of realizing that the pain is worth the “love” that is being removed. That raw, true love that means you must feel fear and pain for someone else. That love that accepts no lies – society’s widespread lies regarding the “products of conception” as opposed to a human being, and the lies of philosophy that strip that human of dignity.

       In the end there is no way to completely rid our society of fighters and defenders of life over choice. There will always be people like Jonas who know deep down that “for Gabriel there would have been no life at all. So there had not really been a choice.” (pg. 174) There will always be people like Fiona (in the movie) who know something is “stolen”, not lost…”something more” – more than the poverty, pain, fear, and fleeting pleasures that were eliminated in “The Giver”. It seems a society like this cannot exist for long, so life-advocates just have to fight and wait like the Giver. We need to wait until people experience love themselves, remember or learn the truth, remember that death isn’t simply Elsewhere, and that people and pain can’t simply be forgotten…these ideas weren’t accepted “back and back and back”.

       Jonas learned to love by seeing and experiencing love himself. Then he was compelled to sacrifice himself, accepting the pain he and others would feel so that the community could know the happiness and goodness that a full life brings. You need pain to appreciate pleasure. Death is only tragic if life is precious and full. A full life is one that respects the dignity of others’ lives as really “something more”. The moral of the story is that a full life – dignity and love and life – is the best gift the Giver could give.

– by Jonathan Conte