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Meditation 257
Suffering for God

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A couple of weeks ago, a retired 78 year-old newspaperman[1] wrote a guest column in the daily paper on suicide.[2] He wrote:

"My greatest fear, shared by many, is not death but infirmity that makes me a burden on my family, or worse, a helpless, witless old wreck in one of those institutions where they warehouse people."

He went on to say that it should be made:

"...easier for those who wish to do so to end their lives before God gets around to it. Suicide is not illegal, but it is difficult. A lethal dose of suitable pills is hard to come by. Even if I could buy a gun, I don't particularly fancy blowing my brains out; I've never been a good shot....

So why not allow medical euthanasia, with suitable safeguards? Seriously, why not? You guarantee me the right to life, so why not the right to die when I choose to?...

And don't give me your religious scruples. Or if you must, please explain why your scruples should condemn to a miserable old age those who do not share them."

Over the next couple of days, the paper published several letters supporting Mr. Westell's views. Then came the only letter[3] published opposing the right to choose death with dignity.

"Even though this gentleman has made it quite clear he does not believe in God, his current suffering could be considered his opportunity to repent and believe."

What kind of God is this that sends suffering to old people to make them repent and believe? Why would anyone want to believe in such a God? Where do these loony ideas come from that a supposedly loving, just, good, and merciful God would deliberately cause suffering in old people? Perhaps from the same place that causes people to think he kills young people to stock sports teams in heaven.

And if suffering could be considered an opportunity to repent and believe, why do believers undergo the same suffering?


  1. Anthony Westell, The Globe & Mail, Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - Page A21
  2. I would really like someone to write an article for the Reflections on Ethics section on suicide or assisted suicide
  3. Theresa Wooll, The Globe & Mail, Friday, September 17, 2004 - Page A16