“A lawsuit filed on December 2nd in New York State seeks to fundamentally overthrow the distinction between animals and humans. The Nonhuman Rights Group, led by the animal-rights lawyer Steven Wise, filed papers with the state supreme court in Fulton County in New York State on Monday, asking that the courts recognize a captive chimpanzee called Tommy as a legal person with a limited right to liberty.”(Time)
How do you beat that in a state where 45% of all pregnancies end in abortion? Then you have the new law passed in Belgium last week that allows children to demand the right to die.
Supporters of the bill argued it would enable terminally-ill children to be relieved of pain when there is no hope of recovery. Opponents argued that children are not capable of taking such a decision and could end up being forced to choose euthanasia.
Belgium has allowed euthanasia for adults since 2002, when over-18s either have a terminal illness or suffer from extreme and prolonged psychological distress. Data shows that more than 1,400 people availed of euthanasia in 2012. Most were more than 60-years-old and suffering from terminal cancer.” (RTE News)
I wonder how many of the 1,400 people who chose euthanasia really wanted to die or were they were made to feel that they were a burden to the state, the health service or their families? Oh, yes, everyone believes in free choice and all the good that goes with it, and we all say that people should be free to do what they choose as long as they hurt no one else; tis all wonderful liberal stuff, full of a myriad of good intentions, until the subtle pressure begins.
The simple truth of the matter is that people don’t want to be put out. Having to look after parents, the sick, children and the elderly interferes with our careers and holidays etc and we don’t want the bother of that, so we send our elderly to homes and have them cared for.
Then we have the problem of suffering. Today’s perception is that no one wants to suffer or should have to suffer. There is no possible benefit in suffering so why should we have to go through it?
Fr John Hardon, an American Jesuit priest who died in December 2000, once said, “We love only to the degree that we are willing to suffer.”
Fr Hardon went on to say:
“If someone preaches to me with great zeal, I will not be as convinced of their love, as when that same person suffers and undergoes hardship for me. Similarly, the defining moment of redemption for humanity was not when Our Lord preached in the synagogues or healed the sick. It was when Love was nailed to a tree and drained of His blood. In this way, love and suffering are inseparable. And what greater proof of love is there than the one who dies to save His very executioners? As Christians, are we not called to trod this same path of Our Lord--not for sufferings sake but for Love's sake--to willingly forget self in order to make others happy?”
No physical pain could compare to the knowledge that those who should love you for no other reason than the fact that you are you, don’t want you alive. There is no limit to the cruelty of people.
This is not a new phenomenon. One aspect of Roman society that tends to horrify modern people was the practice of dumping children in the hills to die. This was generally known as ‘exposure’ because the infants were exposed to the elements. Not all infants so exposed died. Some Roman babies were picked up by families in need of a slave. A handy way to get a bit of free labour!
Thank God such behaviour was never practised in our Christian islands; don’t you believe it. In the 17th and 18th century the problem of abandoning children by the wayside reached epic proportions in England.
A sailor, Captain Coram, “could not endure the sight of babies lying deserted by the roadside while respectable citizens passed by with the shrug of the Pharisee.” Eventually in 1745 Coram opened the famous ‘Foundling Hospital’ in London which only closed its doors in the early 20th century.
Wait til you read the next bit:
“In 1756 Parliament made a grant to the hospital on condition that it take all children brought to it. In the first year 15,000 were brought, of whom only 4,400 survived to teenage years.”
This was in a country with a population of six million. Pro rata that would be 150,000 today: imagine there being 150,000 children dumped by the roadside every year.
Have we made any progress? I think we have. If we didn’t believe in the essential goodness of humanity we might as well close up shop and blow the whole place up.
Events such as the Arab spring or the rising in Kiev this past week give us hope that there is in people a desire to go forward and to make things better.
We in the West have had our day; we are old and tired.
A year ago Lord Heseltine was asked if it is essential that the British economy recover, he replied:
“It's not essential. It doesn't need to. It can go on drifting down. There is no God-given rule saying you've got to have a well-performing economy. It could be an indifferent economy. It's a question of whether the national will is there; whether we want it. And the richer you get the less imperative there is.”
Lord Heseltine went on, “Maybe one of the problems of advanced economies is that people are sufficiently well off that they don't need to drive themselves any more. All these comparisons with China and India are ridiculous. I've just come back from India. You know why they've got to drive themselves – they've got real problems! While in this country there are people with problems, the vast majority of people have standards which are not comparable with the Third World.”
“In a survey of 522 GPs, the magazine Pulse found that 16 per cent had been asked to refer a patient to food bank in the past 12 months. Many GP practices now hold vouchers for their local food bank while others are linked with local social support services to whom they refer patients who say they cannot afford to eat.
Dr Simon Abrams said, “Several of my patients have told me that they’ve gone for several weeks with no money coming in, and have gone to food banks or have borrowed from people. One patient said he went to a food bank and received a very good provision which was more than he would normally have. The food banks are very well organised and clearly well supplied – and the need is much greater than ever before.” (Independent)
Our economic decline is natural; the provision of food banks by good people is the response of society to an emerging need. This is what gives us hope.
Here is part of a letter sent last week by the Anglican bishops of England to the government:
“Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry. Half a million people have visited food banks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.
One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children, and ever more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards. We often hear talk of hard choices.”
Imagine the goodness of mothers who are prepared to go without to feed their children. There are still a lot of good people.
Even the Catholic archbishop of Westminster spoke out:
“Archbishop Nichols said the welfare state was becoming more punitive. ‘I think what's happening is two things,’ he said.
‘One is that the basic safety net, which was there to guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution, has actually been torn apart. It no longer exists, and that is a real, real dramatic crisis.
And the second is that, in this context, the administration of social assistance - I am told - has become more and more punitive.’” (Telegraph)
By the way, Archbishop Nichols is now Cardinal Nichols after a quick trip to Rome at the weekend.
England is broke. The government of that country cannot feed its people. But the people are responding in the way that people always have, by coming together to form groups and food banks and raise whatever money they can from wherever they can to help the less fortunate.
Eventually we shall see the super rich shamed into helping the poor. While a single person is expected to live on less than £60 per week, Wayne Rooney earns £300,000 in the same period.
I wonder if one man is ever worth 5,000 times what another person is worth.
But Wayne Rooney is not to blame for the situation he is in. He does his job and someone reckons that this is a fair wage for his ability. There is nothing wrong with earning a lot of money just as there is nothing wrong with being rich. It is what we do with our wealth that makes the difference.
In this world there are just over 7 billion people. One third of all people on earth are dangerously overweight, while one seventh, a full billion people, are living on the verge of starvation or are actually starving to death.
While well over two billion of us eat ourselves to death in a slow suicide, another billion live on the verge of starvation.
Are we insane or what?
And yet it is still a beautiful world. When we were young we were taught to offer all the problems of suffering and of life ‘up for the souls in purgatory.’ That act, of offering up our sufferings, directed the suffering away from ourselves and turned it into good for someone else.
It is similar to the good women of England who go without a meal so as to better feed their children. It is the same as the people of that land who are organizing food banks and giving of their time to help others.
Eventually Wayne Rooney, as does everyone else in this world, will come to see that no matter how much money you have, there are other things that are more important.
I have a lot more respect for a woman who will go without a meal so that her child can eat than I have for a banker who earns £10m a year. The banker could give half his money to charity but the mother who gives all for her child is still a lot better person. Think of the story of the ‘Widows Mite.’
It is easy to lose hope when we see all that is going on in the world but the lines of good people filing up to give parcels into a food bank outweigh all the evil that we see going on. While it is easy to see and feel the despair in the midst of the silly laws that Belgium and others pass, we should never lose sight of the millions of good deeds done daily by ordinary, simple people, who are just looking after their families.
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