Thursday, 9 June 2016

Jean Vanier on the right to love and care as opposed to the "right to die"



Jean Vanier
Jean Vanier is the founder of L'Arche an international organization of homes for the mentally challenged.  He was interviewed by the CBC recently and here are some quotes from him with regard to the assisted suicide legislation being considered by the Liberal Government:
  My question is always how to put into legislation certain safeguards. Now, there are people who are terribly lonely. They want to die. So what help is getting to people who feel lonely? And how to think about a society where we're more concerned for each other and trying to love each other and help each other. We're putting a lot in the hands of the medical (community) without putting many safeguards in.
"[W]e mustn't go too quick to just say 'there's a legal right.' [People] also have a legal right to be walked with, accompanied and helped."- Jean Vanier
. . .  the question is how to encourage palliative care? Because we can move quite quickly into just the rights of a person who's in pain. And so it's really being attentive to those who are in pain, and how can we help people during these periods to die peacefully. 
Jean Vanier
(Elodie Perriot/L'Arche)
People could go through periods of just fatigue, depression, loneliness. So we mustn't go too quick to just say "there's a legal right". They also have a legal right to be walked with, accompanied, and helped. 

So I hear what you're saying — that everybody is independent. Of course, we're also all interdependent. We need all to be loved, in order to find the beauty of life. And of course, what we see here in all our communities of L'Arche. And people come to us maybe who are quite violent, who are in depression, but then they discover something. They discover that they're loved. Lawmakers should also realize that the human being, we're born in weakness, and we die in weakness. And that we're all vulnerable. And that we all always need help. A society needs to encourage opening up our hearts to those who are weaker and more fragile. 

"[M]y God, we need each other, we need help, we need good doctors, we need the old people's homes. We are all fragile, we all need help, and yet at the same time we all have strengths."- Jean Vanier
So the "something" in society that's going wrong when we thinking all the time that people have to be perfectly independent, perfectly strong, where in reality, my God, we need each other, we need help, we need good doctors, we need the old people's homes; where there's caring and where there're not just one or two nurses or helpers looking after too many people and nobody has time to listen to each other. There's a fundamental sickness in our society. And how can we, little by little, discover this? To move from the I to the we — we are all fragile, we all need help, and yet at the same time we all have strengths. You see, the extraordinary thing here in L'Arche is that so many people with disabilities — they bring forth within us a capacity to love and to be in communion with one another, and to have fun. 

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