Today I signed a petition for the overturning of yet another death sentence which has been handed down to a Christian woman living in a Muslim country #saveAsiaBibi. The last one I signed concerned a woman in the Sudan. This time it is Pakistan.
There are probably many more such barbaric sentences being inflicted on women, and not only Christian women, which we never hear about. Added to these are the innumerable atrocities being perpetrated against women and girls by a criminal organisation which has somehow morphed into an ideological movement having nothing whatever to do with the religion it claims to stand for.
Archbishop Justin Welby, sparked controversy recently when he told an audience of over 1000 people at Bristol Cathedral that he had often ‘doubted’ God. 'Well, how ridiculous', my Dad laughed, 'It’s not very encouraging if the Archbishop of Canterbury of all people isn’t so sure about God!'
My Dad was not alone in his vitriolic reaction. The ‘admission’ as it was described by many journalists, went viral in the press. One Guardian headline read, 'Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about the existence of God.' The International Business Times meanwhile called it the 'doubt of the century', speculating as to whether 'the leader of the Church of England would one day renounce Christianity or spirituality as a whole.'
This is the third of a series of three posts on assisted dying. The first discussed the sanctity of life, the second the spookiness of death. This one is about the role of medical technology. As in the other two, I focus on what seems to me to be a blind spot in modern society’s understanding, in the hope that the ethics of assisted dying may be illuminated.
Assessments of modern technology are much debated. For some, it constitutes progress. For others, it enables the powerful to keep ahead of others. (See, for example, Y H Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, London: Harvill Secker, 2014; or John Gray’s arguments against the notion of progress, e.g. in Heresies: Against Progress and Other Illusions.)
This is the second of three posts on the struggle we have to know what to do about assisted dying. The first addressed the sanctity of life. This one is about death. The third will be on technology.
On the one hand more and more people are being artificially kept alive against their wishes. On the other, whoever is entrusted with the right to say it is time for someone to die, there is the danger of abuse.
When we face a dilemma like this it is worth taking a step back and asking whether we have a blind spot. The spookiness of death is, I believe, one of the blind spots.
Nick Clegg gave a convincing interview on last night’s Channel 4 News (October 7th, 2014) It was convincing, because it was neither issue-driven nor overly concerned with protecting his own or his party’s political persona.
Taken as a whole, the interview was a brief reminder of what liberalism is all about which is a certain humility and a common sense wisdom shaped in compassion.