Friday, September 26, 2008

The False Idol of Convenience

In yet another attack on the sanctity of life, British moral philosopher Baroness Mary Helen Warnock said that elderly with dementia have a "duty to die." Her reasoning is that they are creating a burden on the health care system by using resources that could be used for others. In her warped view, ending these lives would help to save lives of those who are more "valuable" to society by freeing up more resources to them.

Leaving aside the issue of socialized medicine and its flaws, we need to examine what leads to a mindset like this. How do people cease to believe that a sick elderly person has dignity? How can we say that one person's life is worth saving while another's is not?

The answer is relativism. This mindset exists because the lines have been blurred. If you ask the question, "do you support ending the life of a human being because it poses an inconvenience?", any sane person would say "of course not." So how is abortion justified? The definition of when life begins is blurred. We say that that child in the womb is not a life, merely a blob of tissue, or even a "parasite", as I have heard some pro-choicers say. We blur the lines on what is human. As we begin more and more to value "convenience", we adjust our definitions on what is human to fit our concept of convenience. In a generation, abortion went from being outlawed to being allowed in the first trimester, then for virtually any reason at any time in a pregnancy, to the horror of partial-birth abortion, until we reach the point where we are now where a presidential candidate of one of the two major political parties votes against providing medical care for children born after a failed abortion.

In the same way, the lines have been blurred at the end of life. It used to be that a person was to be cared for until the very end. A false concept of mercy started the ball rolling down the slippery slope. People believed that mercy was the ending of a person's suffering, or inconvenience. And this has had disastrous results. It wasn't too long ago when Dr. Jack Kevorkian was seen as a lunatic, a killer, a monster for "helping" people to die. But as the concept of "convenience" gradually became more prevalent, attitudes have changed. This happened first in Europe but is spreading here. From assisted suicide and euthanasia, we moved to the killing of Terri Schiavo and Baroness Warnock's comments.

This is where we are now in our culture: the concept of the sanctity of human life has been replaced by the concept of the sanctity of convenience. Nobody can be allowed to inconvenience me, be it a baby or an elderly relative.

Maybe we should ask ourselves these questions:
  • Why is my convenience more important than the life of another person?
  • Will the lines continue to blur at the beginning and the end of life?
  • If so, what comes next? What will we accept in the name of "convenience" 10 years from now?
  • What is to stop someone from saying my life is inconvenient?

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