Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Trip to the Mall

I was wandering around the Mall yesterday, in a kind of "I've just ridden 100k" haze, as is usual on a Saturday afternoon. As I wandered the Mall intent on hunting, killing, and bagging a couple of long-sleeve T Shirts I got a bit of a shock. There was a kid running around the Mall with a toy machine gun. He was darting back and forth through the crowd shooting away at anyone he saw, sound effect and all.

The first thing that I felt was real shock at seeing a kid with a gun like this. I wondered why I felt this. After all, there was a time when I wouldn't have batted an eyelid, having grown up playing goodies and baddies, cowboys and Indians. I think it is because you just don't see this sort of thing anymore. At least in NZ, running around in public with any kind of gun is kind of frowned upon. Dare I say, for good reason.

Then I thought it is because I am influenced by the PC police. Have I gone a bit silly stopping kids having fun. Then I realised that this is for good reason. In a world like this where horrible events happen with guns including things very close to home, we don't want to see kids running around in public with guns do we? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

The second thing that flashed through my mind was a time I was involved in an arms defender call-out at a mate's 21st. We were having a fine old time having a water pistol war in the central city when we heard sirens and were next surrounded by heavily armed men telling us to put our weapons down. Seemed someone had seen us running around and thought we were really armed and about to have a war. Needless to say we laid down our arms, got a good telling off, and went on our way.

Then I looked more closely and saw that the child was with his family surrounding their Mum. I looked at her thinking, what are you doing letting your kid run around with a gun like this? Then, noticing her clothing, I realised she was a Muslim. Now, I am not sure whether I should have responded as I did, perhaps I am guilty of racism or Islamophobia, but I thought "what the?" I said out loud, "seriously!" I then kept walking shaking my head.

Rightly or wrongly, I was shocked. Many Muslims find acceptance in NZ hard. They are victims of all being lumped together as Jihadis, even though most Muslims are not. They should not be, but they need also to be wise to aid their own course. On this occasion, I was full of questions like this. Doesn't a Muslim woman know better than to allow her kid to run around a Mall with a gun, albeit a toy one? How does she expect people who see Jihadi atrocities across the news on an almost daily basis to respond? Does allowing such things help the cause of the Muslim trying to find a place in NZ? Is she wanting to perpetuate people's prejudice? (Mine having perhaps been exposed ... again!).

After I had processed my shock, and killed and bagged my T Shirts, I wondered if I had let a great chance to chat nicely to a Muslim woman. She may have been blithely unaware of her situation. Then again, such a conversation would be difficult. As I ponder it a day later, truth is I am not sure what to think, except that it was not a great idea and I would advise her not to do so again. Then again, it helps me confront my own prejudices and to ponder the modern PC world we are in.  

The Strange Case of Lecretia Seales

Let me first express my sadness over the death of Lecretia Seales. She was clearly a fine women who contributed greatly to society and then showed immense courage not only in facing a terminal illness, but with taking legal action concerning the end of her life. Whatever one thinks of the cause, her bravery is amazing. I know what it is like to lose loved ones way too early, and my condolences go out to all concerned. Nothing in this blog is personal to her, may the Lord bless all those connected.

With that said, and not wishing to speak ill in any way of her, I find the whole thing strange. Her case began on Monday 25 May. Her desire was that her doctor could help her die, but then not face charges for doing so. The case lasted two days, until Wednesday 27 May. The judge Justin David Collins reserved his ruling but stated he would work through the Queen’s Birthday Weekend to come to a ruling. Clearly, there was a good possibility that she would die very soon anyway. As it turned out, he made his ruling on Thursday 4 June, about a week after the trial, and early the next morning, Friday 5 June, she died of natural causes. When I heard of her death, reading between the lines, the ruling must have gone against her. This was confirmed on Friday.

I find the whole thing a little strange. First, Lecretia was clearly capable of taking her own life in the weeks leading up to the trial. She appeared on TV during the period of the trial and was clearly sufficiently well to do so. I am not sure why she needed help to do it. I think suicide is a wrong option, but I understand people doing it. I don't condemn those who do, God is the one who decides. So, if she wanted to take her own life, I am not sure why she didn’t go ahead and do it? There are countless ways of doing so. Indeed, people do it all the time. I am intrigued that people in such a situation want to bring others into the process. 

Secondly, if Lecretia was so close to dying and was receiving palliative care (as is reported), why go to court to accelerate something that was coming soon anyway? And why the rush to make a ruling? After all, she was nearly at the point of death. 

Thirdly, if the law was applied, it was absolutely certain her desire that her doctor be free of culpability if he helped her take her life would fail. So, with the time frame in mind, why the whole thing? 

With all this in mind, it seems to me that, despite the denials from some in her family, the whole thing was carefully orchestrated to get euthanasia back on Parliament’s agenda. The whole thing was political from those closely involved including the doctor and judiciary.

I remain implacably against euthanasia in the sense that one person actively takes another person’s life or facilitates another person doing it. Passive euthanasia is appropriate—making a person comfortable at their end. There is also a time to switch of the machines and stop the treatment. I should know, I have been involved in three such situations in our family. They are tough and horrible, but sometimes the treatment is no longer bringing healing but hindering what is clear—it is time for a person to die. So, you do not take their life, but stop hindering their death and make them comfortable as they die. But to actively take another’s life directly or as an accessory is another thing. This is a form of murder.

In this case it seems to me that the person in mind did not need assistance. As is most often the case in such situations, she had ample opportunity to hasten her own death or allow nature to take its course as it did.

I hope NZ does not go down the track of allowing active euthanasia. I don’t think we should have a referendum on it, such things are not decided by democracy. If the legislation needs updating, we should update it. However, we should not allow active euthanasia, it will create a huge raft of problems. We already kill enough unborn children, let’s not give ourselves the pretext to kill the disabled, terminally ill, and elderly. Rather, we should care for them until their time comes. Or do we lack the courage and time to do this?