The Right to Die with Dignity

Today I was angry. It felt as though something boiled over in me when I read the subject line of an email addressed to me: Help us protect the right to die with dignity. In Canada our government is trying to pass legislation regarding euthanasia. There is a “consultation questionnaire” which Canadians are encouraged to respond to at justice.gc.ca

I received the email from the BC Civil Liberties Association. I don’t recall ever signing up for mail from the BC Civil Liberties Association. In their letter they threaten that if we don’t offer medically assisted dying (MAiD) in Canada then it will “lead to premature deaths by suicide by some individuals.” Which frightening alternative do you prefer? The outcome is precisely the same.

I, frankly, don’t see any difference between shooting someone in the head at short range,  or injecting someone with a needle, or subjecting a person to the electric chair. And to me it is not compassion to help someone kill themselves. Frankly, I’m not there yet.

You will note that the questionnaire assumes all are in favor of assisted dying which until now was called murder or homicide or manslaughter and was considered the worst criminal offense because it ended a life.

Our government now wants to put some new guidelines, some parameters, around helping someone to kill themselves. No, the survey never asks if you are in favor of having medical professionals help someone to end their life. It only asks about which parameters you consider important in preparing for the procedure of terminating a life.

What made me angry is that suddenly “assisted dying” is a “right.” And it is a right that needs to be protected. In other words, we want to make sure you get to die, and that nobody interferes with that.

“Mature minors” should have the right to assisted death, we are learning.

The whole purpose of this new legislation is to ensure that “eligibility is broadened to individuals who are not near death.” This is what the BCCLA states in their email to me. The BCCLA adds:

The additional “safeguards” that the government is contemplating are unnecessary and potentially unconstitutional barriers to MAID.

Oh, I have so many questions around this, but our government’s mind is already made up. This is the next new “right” Canadians will be privileged to have protected.

In July 2016 the federal government passed legislation permitting medical assistance in dying. Since then 6,700 have died with medical assistance. A recent court ruling in Quebec has made it necessary for Canada to broaden the eligibility for euthanasia. You can read about it here

The Court declared the “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” criterion in the federal Criminal Code, as well as the “end-of-life” criterion in Quebec’s provincial law on medical assistance in dying, to be unconstitutional.

My problem is with assisted dying being a “right.” Do doctors also have a “right” not to assist dying? Do hospices have a “right” not to assist dying? A hospice in Delta, BC has been ordered to offer MAID by February 3 or lose government funding, even though the facility states that MAID is not compatible with the purposes of the Hospice Society.

“To not allow Medical Assistance in Dying brings with it potential human rights violations,” said former board president Jim Levin, who is in favor of MAID at the hospice.

The hospice has posted their statement here

Hospice palliative care and MAiD substantially differ in multiple areas including in philosophy, intention and approach.[xi] Hospice palliative care focuses on improving quality of life and symptom management through holistic person-centered care for those living with life threatening conditions. Hospice palliative care sees dying as a normal part of life and helps people to live and die well. Hospice palliative care does not seek to hasten death or intentionally end life. In MAiD, however, the intention is to address suffering by ending life through the administration of a lethal dose of drugs at an eligible person’s request.

We are to believe that removing barriers to this “procedure” is reflective of the “evolving views” of Canadians in just the past couple of years. There is a sense of pride over how progressive Canadians have become. However, hospices want to provide a “safe space” where death is not hastened. Will our government deny this right?

We are being told this is just another “choice,” needing protecting. It is another one of our “equality rights.” It is not the right to die that is being questioned. We all have that right. Nothing has changed in that department. But what is different now is, the right to have a medical professional condone your suicide and help you with the act.

It is particularly cruel to those who are vulnerable and those with disabilities.

As stated, here this irreversible procedure could easily be the result of “temporary anger, depression, a misunderstanding of one’s prognosis, ignorance of alternatives, financial considerations, strain on family members or significant others, or improper persuasion….”

I am very concerned when assisted dying suddenly becomes a “right” which has to be protected. This is not like the other rights we have seen come to the forefront in recent years. This does not make your quality of life better. It ends it. I am also very concerned about our move towards a flippant view of the sanctity of life. We all know this ends up down the slippery slope of who decides which life is worth preserving.

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What to Write About – Leave a Legacy

I don’t very often talk about content in writing. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve touched on this subject before.

There are messages out there that need to be shared. A few questions I always ask myself:

1) Am I the one to speak about this?

2) Where/to whom do I talk/write about this?

3) What is the best format/presentation method/platform?

5) Is now the time?

I think for awhile Facebook hijacked my ideas in the sense that it was where I posted short scripts, rather than blogging them or writing a book. As writers we need to determine what specific message we are to make a priority and write about. After this we determine when and where and how we will deliver the message.

This morning I read a couple of blogs I follow. I noted this in one blog: The Russians, for their part, wanted paralyzing chaos and to destabilize the United States politically — Mission Accomplished, Ivan. This blogger posts political content and adds personal commentary. The reason I chose this quote is because I see a lot of material these days that is causing destabilization and I think as writers this is something we could respond to. I would add that Russia does not get all the credit for chaos and destabilization.

Another blogger I follow, who is an inspirational writer of poetry, confessed today that she is actually a “political junkie” on Twitter. She deviated from her usual form and wrote about being moved to tears by a mother who lost her son this past week when a passenger plane was shot down over Iran. She felt the need to draw attention to the plight of Iranians at this time.

I hear from more and more people who are distraught by what they see around them and want to speak out. Don’t allow your voice to be silenced when you have a conviction that you need to speak. Some things need to be said, even if there are repercussions.

Although our privilege to speak freely is being challenged, today, silence is not the answer. Wisdom is.

Count the cost. Be courageous. Be considerate. Be prayerful. Think through what it is you want to say, then choose your words carefully.

I read this recently:

Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. – Elie Wiesel

As writers we have a very significant role. We communicate a message that has the potential to influence others. We pass on information. We help people look at things from different viewpoints. This can be encouraging to some while it is threatening to others. Once again, I do not believe the solution is for people of good intentions to remain silent.

What is your motivation? Why do you write? I am encouraged when I see writers who aim to achieve good in the world. As we have seen, there are those whose motivation is less lofty.

In deciding what it is we want to say, it is also helpful to know exactly what it is we are doing. One person may want to document their journey. Another may want to give a commentary, or an evaluation. Some write to teach and share information. Others feel the need to alert people to current events or developments.

Occasionally people write cathartically, as a form of personal therapy. Some want their words to soothe and heal and bring comfort. Others write to entertain with wit and humor.

Our personality will incline us in a certain direction. A few people have expressed a sense of “call” to communicate a specific message or to deliver it in a very specific way. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what sets us writing but I think it’s safe to say it is interest and concern.

Whatever your content, whatever your style, I encourage you to contribute. Your voice is unlike anyone else’s voice. What you have to say matters. Together we can work towards creating a more insightful, more caring and more peaceful world. We can address some of the chaos and hopefully bring a greater sense of stability. Let’s leave behind a legacy for those who will follow. Your voice could be the one someone has waited for.

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Why I Left Facebook at the End of the Year

Each of my WordPress followers pressed the “follow” button for a slightly different reason. When I follow someone it is because I have found their writing interesting or motivating in some way and I want to keep track of them and be able to read more of their content. When I think that this is the reason someone follows me, I feel strangely moved. There are days when writers need to be reminded that someone really does care and wants us to write more and will be looking for our content.

I had a very meaningful time on Facebook for many years. It was a place where I felt I could go to be encouraged. People on Facebook cared. And I cared about them. I tried to post encouraging comments. I “liked” numerous posts. And my friends were very responsive and kind.

I have moved a number of times and Facebook became the place to keep in touch with people I no longer saw in person. I considered myself to be very blessed with my group of friends. Oh, it was an odd mix, but I loved it. A few friends didn’t agree with my political leanings and challenged me from time to time and I enjoyed the fact that they expressed alternate views. I reexamined my points of view. It forced me to look at what I believed from a different perspective.

My tendency was to share links to relevant news and often I added a paragraph of commentary. Many of my friends frequently expressed their appreciation for this as I pulled up pieces that weren’t commonly seen by everyone. However, I began to notice that I was no longer getting responses to my posts. I decided to do a survey of my friends and discovered that my closest friends were not seeing my posts. I began to suspect that Facebook did not like what I was posting and was reducing my distribution. When I mentioned this to my husband he thought I was making it up, so I kept watching and eventually I got the confirmation from Facebook itself. According to them I was posting false news. One piece of “false news” was a link to a letter that 500 scientists sent to the United Nations, claiming that climate change science is complex and we do not know the exact correlation between human activity and climate change. I was told by Facebook that if I continued to post this type of “false news” I would see my “overall distribution reduced and be restricted in other ways.” But they had already done this to me for a year or longer.

If you say anything that questions the current politically correct dialogue–and I tend to do this–then you are labelled as a false prophet, in other words. There are names the politically correct side has for you. These are conversations you are not allowed to have. I am not even talking about whether, or how much, climate change is impacted by human activity. I just want to give both sides the opportunity to speak. But today we are in a society where this kind of dialogue is no longer allowed–not even on Facebook–and Facebook is going to enforce this. It is not only Facebook, however. When I went back to the original site on Google where I obtained the article, it was blocked.

I never considered myself as a threat before, but apparently I am a threat to Facebook. One day Facebook stopped me from posting a link to an article written by a doctor about how doctors suffer as a result of not being able to be open about their struggles. It looked like a harmless article to me but I received a pop-up that said: Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other persons on Facebook have reported as abusive. You can find it at this site. It is entitled The Conspiracy of Silence (World Mental Health Day).

In a way, Facebook ultimately succeeded in silencing me completely because I left Facebook. But I was silenced on Facebook for a long time before that. After a decade or so on Facebook I know my friends and it is not normal for me to have ten posts that have no response at all from any readers. And this happened again and again. Several times I did a survey and the result was the same. My friends had not seen my posts. They had no idea what I had been posting during the week.

Some person or algorithm did not like me so it silenced me, and very effectively. I finally became weary of it and I went off of Facebook.

But I do not believe we ought to be silent. The article I tried unsuccessfully to post, that was written by the doctor, contained this quote, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference” – Elie Wiesel. We cannot remain indifferent. We need to find creative and effective ways of expressing our views, while practicing patience and tolerance with those who oppose us.

I think it is extremely saddening that a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, godmother, and friend has to leave behind all of her dear contacts because the mail carrier reads her mail and deems it not fit for distribution.

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Update on My Novel

To my dear readers who have followed my story…thank you for your incredible patience.

It would almost make a story of its own for me to document my writing journey these past months. I finally decided that at the end of the year I will put my novel aside. In other words, it must be finished by then. There are other things I want to be freed up to do.

My biggest struggle has been that I want to write non-fiction. I don’t feel like I am a novelist. I’ve had to greatly adjust my writing style in order to write fiction. Many times when I have been blocked I have read a variety of books on writing, or I’ve read novels, or I’ve picked up Writers’ Digest magazines. I always find the magazines extremely motivating.

However, lately none of the above have helped me get out of my slump. I’ve had a series of revelations, however, and these are now beginning to motivate me to keep writing.

First of all I realized that I was embarrassed to be writing a “fluffy romance.” I actually kept thinking of people who I DID NOT want to have read my novel. My husband insisted that many people loved books by Louis L’Amour, and they were not profound treatises. He kept reminding me that I was a good writer. He told me he enjoyed the parts I had read to him, and that my writing was as good or better than published authors he’s read. “If you can do that, over and over, then you can write a good book.” Don’t underestimate the importance of novels, he’d tell me.

But, I argued, that is not all there is to a book. All of the pieces have to tie together and be in the right order, and you have to keep track of all the threads, and round out all the characters, and build the tension, etc., etc. It just seemed like I would fail, and worse, I might not even know where or why I failed.

I’ve had segments of my work edited and it has proved to be a very humbling experience. However, I decided I needed to move on from there by thinking about how much I learned, how my writing changed and improved, as a result.

I read somewhere that I needed to love my book. Someone pointed out that I had a bit of “self loathing” going on here. In other words, I no longer believed in my story, nor in my ability to tell it.

One day, when I felt particularly low–the day that my editor friend told me that my main character sounded pathetic (in other words), and that my language sounded like something from twenty years ago–yes, I was really told that…I drove to the ocean and was ready to delete my book and cancel my plan to attend a writers conference in August. The thing that held me back was that, for no reason I could put my finger on, I just believed that God actually wanted me to go to the conference this year. If I believed that, then I needed to go. I don’t want to live with having failed to have the courage to do what I needed to do.

Even deciding to love my book didn’t help me keep writing. I still wanted to quit more often than not. The truth was I didn’t believe what I was writing was significant.

I had been trying to dig deep, to get in touch with my characters’ feelings. Yes, there was some good writing. I could tell when it was good and that I needed to do more of that.

I think the breakthrough came when I realized that I knew my book inside and out. I had lived with it so long, I understood my characters better than my editor. And I had grown. I was able to recognize pathetic now and use it. That day I wrote back to my editor friend and told her that, yes, my character starts out with weaknesses, and she knows this, and it bothers her. I told her that maybe I am writing in a twenty year old style, but I’m OK with it. I’m probably not going to change that.

I began to see strength in my story. I took ownership.

I had taken pieces out of my story. Now I began to integrate them once again, in a different way, because I could see they contributed something vital. I slashed whatever didn’t serve a clear purpose. I made a list of what I wasn’t sure I should include and as the weeks passed the decisions became clear. I finally had a sense, not only of where I was going, but what I was doing with my story.

If I had not put a time pressure on myself, I would not have been pushed up against a wall. I would not have realized how much I hated my story and how I was actually seriously avoiding finishing it.

Most of all, I would not have come to the conclusion that I was the only one who could prevent it from being pathetic. I was the only one who could make my story as strong as I wanted it to be. I was the only one who could say, this was how I intended it and I love it now. It is now a true representation of me as a writer.

I finally found my strength and the strength in my story and it motivated me. I saw that I could write a book I would love. And this was the book I wanted to share.

 

 

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Organizing for Writing

As writers we are always collecting material. I have file boxes full of notes. Numerous computer files. Bookshelves of books. My brain is constantly coming up with new concepts to write about. New angles. New stories. I can’t possibly keep track of them all.

Between my electronic notes and files, and my physical files and notes, I sometimes am overwhelmed with all the resources I have collected. It’s as though an avalanche of ideas is always coming at me and I don’t have time to sort it all and to prioritize it.

I received the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert, from my son for Christmas. He knows I am a creative type as I dabble in art and music and writing. Incidentally, I finally found a template that works for featuring my photography online. You can view it at LensArt. What I was going to say is that Elizabeth Gilbert sees inspiration as a sort of entity of its own, like a “spirit” that makes an entrance into our lives and beckons us to follow it and create something. She also says we can’t sit idly and wait for this sort of inspiration to knock on our door. We grasp it when it does, but in the meantime creativity needs to find us busy working.

As I’ve already said, my problem is not that ideas don’t come to me. On the contrary, there are too many ideas competing for my attention. Too many projects I’ve started, and so many more I want to begin. My problem is more in the area of effectively working with my ideas and not losing them.

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it is alright to have all of this evidence of raw writing material–files upon files, books upon books. For too long I compared myself with others who were not writers and who didn’t have this semi-organized chaos, and thought I needed to be like them. Then one day I observed that other writers did indeed have the same challenges I have in dealing with endless resources. I wasn’t some odd sort of hoarder. I saw that writers need a lot of material before we put pen to paper. We need lot of exposure to other sources. We end up doing a lot of gathering and collecting.

If only I had someone to help me with the task of sorting, organizing, storing and retrieving. What a luxury that would be.

In the early church there were theologians who had sponsors who enabled them to write because they provided them with scribes or secretaries and often paid their living expenses. I read about one church father, I believe it was Origen, who had seven secretaries at one time. Imagine that. In this way he was able to write reams of material.

Of course, back then all of it was done by hand. At least I have the advantage of a computer which, compared to handwriting or using a typewriter, is an incredibly useful tool, taking numerous hours off of my writing time. I don’t miss the days of pulling paper out of my typewriter and erasing.

Like most writers, I continuously face the tedious task of documenting my ideas and organizing and prioritizing them, without the aid of a benefactor or the assistance of secretaries. I’ve had to train myself to be alright with a bit of chaos when too much focus on cleaning up my reference materials takes energy away from actual writing. 

There is a sort of dividing line I need to be conscious of, an imaginary line dividing the past from the present. It separates the collected material from the collections I am working with.

When I write, I pull items forward from the past into the present. Some of my collected material is no longer relevant. It needs to go. Other material must be accessible, not lost in some slush pile–namely, a place from which it is never retrieved.

From time to time I need to go back into the past and remind myself of what is there.

Memory is an amazing thing, the way it retrieves information. But my memory  occasionally needs a little help and so I go back and review what I’ve written and stored.

I am determined to continue to work at implementing an effective organizational system. An effective organizational system is one where I can utilize material that is helpful and retrieve it when I need it.

Currently I sort documents into broad categories and sub-categories on my desktop, in Scrivener, in my email program (I email links to articles to myself), in online bookmarks and in my physical filing cabinet. I use Google Keep to take quick notes when ideas come to me. I have to consistently work to keep ahead of the clutter and remain focused on what it is I want to write.

Organizing is not an end in itself.  The result I am trying to achieve is to free up more time to write and to become a better writer. Keeping this in mind helps to protect me from what could easily become an obsession–organizing.

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A new post of mine

via That Loving Feeling – Believe in Your Marriage

 

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Check Out My Latest Article

I have another site where I write random articles. I just posted this article Don’t Let the Depression Monster Get You  Check it out.

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