The Stairway of Life
Many are surprised at the reality of the dying process as their loved ones appear to be approaching death. I say "appear" to be approaching, because it's not always certain. Patients whose blood pressures are dropping steadily, who exhibit all the signs that they are "declining" and "must" be on their way, suddenly recover and turn around, living sometimes weeks, months and even years afterwards. Many experts in end-of-life care have been surprised and many of their predictions have not held to be accurate.
It's not the straight trajectory one might imagine: "you get diagnosed with some terminal disease and then you die," ... it doesn't happen like that in many cases. More often than not, it's like a spiral: sometimes the patient is improving, sometimes the patient's condition is worsening, sometimes, nothing much seems to be happening. "The patient is stable." Nobody knows what to expect at that time, except that eventually, it will get worse. How long is not known, just as determining when you or I will pass on is not known.
It is just the same with those at the beginning of life who have congenital difficulties and diseases or disabilities. Physicians will often tell the parents that their children have "little or no hope" and they should think about end-of-life preparations or care in that type of setting. When a physician gives such a message, that there is "no hope," they are encouraging actual despair in those parents, for that is what despair means, "without hope." Yet, if the parents stand firm and assure that their child gets clinically-appropriate care, the child often will make it through and sometimes live much longer than the few hours or days, or weeks, the physicians suggested was their "time left" before they would die.
I've known and cared for such patients (infants and children) who have gone on to live a year, a dozen years, or even thirty years or more longer than the pronouncements given to the parents at the beginning of life.
The only time a health professional can normally be fairly certain (not 100% certain) that a patient will die very soon is when they appear to be imminently dying right in front of us, with most of the signs of the active phase of dying1. Even then, physicians who have been absolutely sure the patient was dying within hours, even minutes, have been proved wrong. In fact, physicians have been sure that certain patients were actually dead with no heart beat and no breathing at all, and the patients were dead, yet some have come back to life!2 Before we go telling parents there is "no hope," we need to remember such cases and humbly admit that we don't know all there is to know.
So long as the patient is alive, expert and clinically-appropriate end-of-life patient care, or beginning-of-life patient care, actually helps the patient to improve their quality of life, stabilize, live longer and be able to make the most of the time they have left with their family and friends. Though there are times when what care is provided is changed depending upon the patient's condition, we should provide care that would not cause harm to the patient. That patients live longer if expert and clinically-appropriate care is provided is well-established. But that doesn't always happen. We expect that the best care would be provided at such a crucial time in a person's life, but unfortunately, that is not always the case.
In fact, what often happens is something quite other than "expert" or "clinically-appropriate" care. Some agencies that provide end-of-life care process patients through like an industrial assembly line, with almost all patients getting exactly the same medications and dying in about the same time, even though they had very different end-stage diseases. Shocking, but true.
In some hospitals, physicians will "triage" newborn patients with disabilities or congenital diseases to settings that do not provide the care that would be provided if the physicians had decided to help that newborn child live. Parents won't always know at first that such a decision has been made by the physician, but they will know soon enough that things that would be expected to be done, aren't being done.
In end-of-life care settings, patients may not be getting the care that is expected and actions taken or interventions withheld may be done because the physician has made a decision that the patient is to die sooner rather than later. This is "intended death," imposed death.
There is a perfect storm of factors causing an alarming increased frequency of such intended and imposed deaths: the increased entry by for-profit corporations into the health care arena, especially hospice, the economic pressures on governments, both national and state, around the world to balance the budget and cut costs, often through rationing, and, the successful indoctrination of a large percentage of health care professionals into the ethics of death, i.e., the ethics that govern the "culture of death." Most people have never heard of "the ethics of death," but they are very real and they are well-recognized under other names.
There are many steps on the culture of death's "stairway to death." At each and every step along the way, the patient's life can be ended, i.e., the patient can be killed "ethically," according to the "ethics of death."
People everywhere are becoming more aware that something has changed in the health care setting. Care is not always provided, available options are not always offered or explained, actions are taken that seem to take the decision-making away from the patient or family, and death may be imposed directly, indirectly or manipulated into happening in a wide variety of ways. If you haven't seen it, you may be skeptical, but you are probably aware that things like that are "known to happen." It's become quite widespread.
With all the emphasis on "patient rights" and "best outcomes," it seems a contradiction that things like "intended" and imposed deaths should happen at all, but it is not a contradiction when the realities are understood. It is not a mystery why these things are happening when we understand the values held by those in charge of the health care delivery system and the funding of that system, whether they are the values held by stakeholders in the national decision-making process for Medicare, Medicaid or a government run health care system, or, by those in charge of the private health insurance plans.
There is one basic thing that has changed within the health care setting, though it is talked about in different ways: reverence for life, that was the basic foundation for health care service, has been abandoned.
The sanctity of life ethic has been discarded. The absolute standard, "do no harm," has been abandoned. Although many are not aware of this change, those working in the field are very aware that in today's health care setting, there are circumstances where actions taken will cause death either directly or indirectly. In other words, "doing harm" has become acceptable.
Some will disagree with that, but it is easily confirmed. The "modern physician's oath"3 states:
"Taking a life" has no other meaning than to intend and impose death. That is now "acceptable" and "approved" in this modern culture of death health care system. When belief in the "sanctity of life" was considered the foundation for health care, along with "doing no harm," the "taking of a life" would have been condemned by every physician's organization around. Now, few even figuratively "blink an eye."
Yes, "doing harm" has become acceptable if the conditions merit it according to the ethics of death. It becomes a question of semantics and redefining of terms. "Life" does not always mean "life," as any ordinary person means it. "Person" does not always mean "person," as any ordinary person would understand it. "Death" does not always mean "death," as anyone could see it and know it. "Killing" does not always mean "killing," as even a child could comprehend. "Helping" does not mean what most expect it to mean. "Care" does not mean what the patients desperately need and desire. "Love" is not even considered. And the "mission?" It is certainly not the same thing it was forty or fifty years ago.
When the "rules of the game," and the "cards" that are played, have been completely changed, the outcome of the game is sure to be something entirely other than it once was. In the American nation, the United States of America, "human rights" once were "self-evident." They were the "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," written right into our Declaration of Independence4. Whatever happened to that?
Are these universally-recognized "human rights," at least among those who are concerned about "human rights?" Not really. Some of the "human rights" that most people agree on are the right to vote in a democratically-run nation. Other human rights are debated. Rights to minimal standards of food, shelter, clothing are pretty much agreed upon, but what about that "right to life?" There has been a several decade-long campaign to establish what is called "women's reproductive rights" by those who are decidedly in favor of the continued legalization of medical killing of babies.
They say that the right to have one's own baby medically-killed is a women's right, a "human right." Yet, we know that scientifically, a new and unique human begins at the very first moment the embryonic developmental process is initiated.5 You began life as a unique person, a unique human being at this point. So did I and all of us. What about our "human right" to life at that very point? The new human being is not the mother, but he or she is being carried by the mother, within the mother's body.
Of course, those who consider the killing of human beings at the embryonic or fetal stage a human right don't use language that conveys what is obviously being done. They call it "abortion," as if the ending of a new human life is something that is simply "aborted" or stopped. How would you or I like to be "aborted" right now? We call it killing, imposing death. It is not just the ending of a pregnancy. It truly is the killing of a new and unique human being.
Of course, culture of death leaders say that what is being "ended" is not a "human life," but they lie. They know it's a human life, a baby. And, from time-to-time they admit it, but they can't afford to tell the truth openly or consistently if they wish to further their culture of death agenda with its anti-life, anti-religious, pro-Marxist slant. Read the writings of the leaders of the pro-"abortion" movement and you will quickly understand it is anti-life, anti-religious, pro-socialism and, anti-traditional values and anti-traditional family values.
What is desired by the culture of death is the complete re-shaping or re-ordering of society based upon non-religious values. They are not based upon "no" values, as you might imagine. When they protest traditional societal values and sometimes scream, "don't impose your morals on us," they fully intend to impose their "morals," on the rest of us, and "freedom" to disagree or disobey will not exist! What is being promoted is an actual worldview that allows no room for the faith-based view of the world which recognizes the sanctity of life and the source of that life as being God, the Creator.
Have you lived under communist, totalitarian rule such as existed in the former Soviet Union, in Romania not too long ago, or exists in communist China, N. Korea, Cuba or Vietnam today? If you say the wrong thing, challenge what the government does or criticize its political leaders, you can end up in jail for a year, ten years, or even the rest of your life. The stated goal of those who have made changes to Western societies and its nations, and who plan to make even more changes here, is the removal of the religious viewpoint from government policy.
It is the same style of absolute intolerance for the expression of authentic faith, as imposed in the totalitarian, communist nations! What kind of goals do they openly advocate? Here's an example: "The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values." and, "an end to the influence that religion and pseudoscience have on public policy," and "an end to the privileged position that religion and pseudoscience continue to enjoy in many societies." [see: Center for Inquirywww.centerforinquiry.net/about]
With their own words, they tell us that the religious view of life is simply "superstition" and unscientific. Yet, we who are of faith have no problem with the objective pursuit of knowledge through science. We have a problem with scientists or physicians, or others, making conclusions that have nothing to do with science or technology or medicine, and then imposing those conclusions on the rest of us, as if they have a superior insight into what is moral, ethical or "right." In other words, the materialism and rejection of God by the secular humanists, modernists, or post-modernists, is not "proved" by science, ... it is assumed out of hubris and rebellion against the Spirit of God, and sought-to-be imposed on the rest of us, through government mandate, technological imposition or health-care tyranny. Lip service is given to "freedom of religion" by those who hate religion, simply in order to lull us all to sleep while they seize power and push forward their culture of death agenda.
They don't call it a culture of death. They call it "progress," the control of humanity's destiny by man, something great and wonderful, without the need for a "god" or "God" in any sense at all. For them, "man can do everything for himself." There is no gratitude for the gifts the dear Lord gives to each man or society as a whole. Not only is there no acknowledgement that God exists, there is a denial that He exists. As one physician told me, "there is zero percent chance that God exists!" That is the secular humanist position.
When there is an actual denial that God exists, what happens to the idea of "human rights?" Without the faith or knowledge of God, the human being is seen merely as a material thing, devoid of ultimate meaning and certainly devoid of a "soul." The life of that human being is not seen as anything special and should conditions materially decline, should they not be able to function physically or cognitively, the value of that material life is thought to be worthless. The ending of that life is then seen as "doing good." In other words, the "ethics" of this culture of death now considers killing to be "good" in some cases. That is absolutely and so shockingly what has changed in our society.
Both the materialist humanists and those of faith agree that man is capable of reason and rational thought, but how it is used is quite different. Just as in logical argument, you begin with a "premise" (which can be "assumptions" about what is true) and then reason from there to a "conclusion."
The culture of death uses premises, and comes to conclusions like:
"No God exists."
The culture of life uses premises, and comes to conclusions like:
You see, the starting points for the culture of death and the culture of life are completely different. Because the proponents of the culture of death believe that in many cases, life is not worth living, they do actually end lives in those circumstances. When those in charge of the health care facilities, institutions, educational facilities and staff, are aligned with the culture of death, the outcome is certain: death will often be intended and imposed, and that is what we see in many facilities and health care settings today.
When those in charge of the health care system, its educational facilities and staff, are aligned with the culture of life, intending death or imposing death is forbidden. Reverence for life is practiced based upon the value given human life ... it is considered a gift from God and is sacred, thus we call it, the "sanctity of life ethic." "Do no harm" is practiced throughout the system, to the best of our ability.
How do the culture of death proponents reason that they are doing "good" to "justify" when they end lives? There are hundreds of ways, but the main methods are:
They re-define what is "right."
They suggest that our free will gives us the right to kill ourselves through the principle called "autonomy" or patient self-determination. The idea of having our own wishes, our "free will," honored sounds good, but when the patient is not able to make his or her own decisions, a surrogate decides for the patient that he or she would "want" to be killed. So much for patient "self"-determination! And even if killing ourselves, suicide, is our wish, it was recognized as a grave sin by most in society for thousands of years and still is regarded in this way by many. Why not provide support, love, counseling and treatment to help that person to a more positive outlook? That is not done. If you wish to kill yourself in a fully-implemented culture of death health care system, they will be eager to help you do it!
They suggest that the burden of caring for the patient is "too much" economically, or in terms of the time and energy needed to care for that patient. Therefore, they say that the patient's life should be ended for the "greater good" of society or the principle of "benevolence." This was done in National Socialist ("Nazi") Germany.
They suggest that because the patient is not worth much, no longer actively contributing to society, and is very old or disabled, interventions such as surgery or treatment or medications should not be given. They say that they are not "just" expenditures of resources since another younger, more able patient would better use those scarce health care resources. "Justice" under the culture of death will often mean denying care to the elderly, disabled and vulnerable, even if as a direct consequence of that decision, death is certain to occur.
If one of these principles successfully can be argued as a "reason" to end life, that one principle will be used, even if the other principles do not fit and cannot be used to "make the argument." For example, the patient wants the surgery, treatment or medication. In that case, the principle of "autonomy" is thrown out the window and the patient's wishes are trampled casually as if "autonomy" had no importance at all. Only the principle that allows the imposition of death is relied upon.
What else do the proponents of the culture of death use on their "stairway to death" to "justify" their killing of patients and the vulnerable?
They redefine "human life." For the culture of death proponents, babies are not "babies." For the culture of death proponents, human beings, who are known scientifically to begin at the very beginning of the developmental process, stage 1a of the Carnegie Stages of Embryonic development,6 at twinning or in artificial IVF or other settings, are not considered to be "human beings." They may say life begins when those "cells" implant in the womb, or when they are developed completely and "whatever that is" is given birth to as a suddenly "human being." It is logically incomprehensible that they consider the human being in the embryonic or fetal stage not to be a "human being," for example, yet if that same human being at the fetal stage or embryonic stage were to be delivered prematurely (and survived somehow), it is then considered "a human being!"
They also redefine "person." They say that a human being is not a "person" if they have cognitive impairments, are developmentally-disabled or brain-injured. Some like Peter Singer of Princeton University, do not even consider newborn babies to be "persons," because it is assumed that an infant does not have fully-functioning cognitive abilities, and so, according to them, these "nonpersons" can be killed "ethically." This is the ethics of death.
They also redefine "death." They say that a human being is not a "live" human being or "live person," if they are "brain dead," and then, because they are "brain dead," they are actually "dead" legally, and their organs can be seized for the purpose of transplantation to other patients. It matters not that the patient considered "brain dead," i.e., "dead," has fully functioning heart and lungs and cellular respiration. Patient advocate and pro-life physician, Paul A. Byrne, MD, was asked7 in an interview if:
Randy Engel: " 'brain dead' people will often respond to surgical incisions. ... referred to as 'the Lazarus effect?' "
All other metabolic signs of extreme pain are manifested exactly the same as those patients who are not "brain dead" and are experiencing extreme pain. In other words, it matters not that to get the unpaired major organs like a heart or liver, the patient is killed in actuality.
They redefine "killing." They say that when a patient is being killed, they are not killing the patient. They call it "abortion." They call it "letting go." Or, they say, the patient's "comfort is being assured." What they mean by "letting go," or "comfort being assured," is something quite other than the ordinary person would even begin to imagine when they use these terms. But it's "wink, wink," not "killing."
They redefine "basic care." Anybody, even many children, would know that food, water and even oxygen is basic to life. But for the culture of death proponents, these are not "ordinary" care, they are "medical" care or treatment, and when the moment is right, they call it "extraordinary" care, allowing them legally to withhold it, and thereby impose death, i.e. kill the patient. And yes, patients who used to get supplementary oxygen for respiratory difficulties, sometimes do not get oxygen, ... they get sedated and drugged with opioids, and, they die.
They redefine "help you breathe." This is a popular teaching in culture of death hospices today. The pharmaceutical inserts from the manufacturers all say that opioids like morphine or fentanyl, in some conditions or dosages, may cause respiratory depression, slowed breathing, stopped breathing and death. Yet, hospice staff all over will often tell the family or patient who was benefiting from supplementary oxygen or nebulizer, i.e., breathing, treatments, that they will no longer be giving the patient oxygen, and will no longer be giving respiratory treatments like albuterol, and that they are now "giving morphine to help the breathing."
When a COPD or emphysema patient is given opioids and not given some oxygen to increase their blood oxygen saturation level and not given nebulizer treatments to open up their airways, they are very susceptible to that opioid medication. Even with the oxygen and nebulizer treatments, they are very sensitive to opioid medications and may as a result have their respiratory effort completely shut down, causing death. We know it as "killing." They call it, "helping you breathe." Yes, it relaxes you! ... to death!
What else do the culture of death proponents do as they keep trying to impose death one way or another, and move patients down their "stairway to death?" Well, when they can't convince you or fool you with the above methods, they simply ride roughshod over your wishes and kill you anyway. How do they do that?
When they can't convince you, they form "futile care protocol" or "ethics" committees to impose the unethical. They call it "ethical" to take actions to cause the patient's death. For example, an 80 year-old woman needs a pacemaker or other surgery, or a 50 year-old cerebral palsy patient needs that pacemaker.... They are stable and the surgeon has determined that they are strong enough to undergo the surgery, and need the pacemaker. What happens?
The hospital ethics committee, composed of culture of death physicians, social workers and the hospital attorney, and maybe a token "patient advocate" or family member, meet together and decide that the patient would not "benefit" from the treatment or surgery, or that that treatment would be better allocated to a younger or more able patient (using any of the above-discussed principles of "autonomy," "beneficence" or "greater good of society," or "justice"). The result? The treatment is denied. Should you object, you are given a day or two to arrange for transfer to another hospital that might give you the treatment. Good luck doing that since the other hospital staff are taught in the same culture of death educational facilities and are guided by the same ethics of death!
When they can't convince you, they fill out "Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment."8 Otherwise known as P.O.L.S.T. forms. You know you've been lectured about making out your "Living Will," "Advanced Directive," "Power of Attorney for Health-Care Decision-making," and so on. Well, those can all be disobeyed now, or overridden in the blink of an eye! That hasn't been well-publicized, but that's the reality! A physician or practitioner who honors patients' wishes will fill in the POLST forms indicating the patient's wishes, but it isn't being used that way in many cases. These POLST forms arose out of the same state that gave the United States its first legalized assisted-suicide, Oregon.
A physician, or other health care professional, or even some bureaucrat, could fill in the POLST forms determining what care or treatment you will not get, the physician may sign or may not sign them, but they are entered into the medical chart and become medical orders even without a physician's signature in some cases. Or, with a physician's signature. The point is, you don't have to agree with it, want it, or approve what is written in the POLST forms. It supercedes everything you've written or voiced as your wishes regarding your medical treatment. You see: it's the perfect answer to those stubborn patients and families who just won't be convinced and simply don't accept the culture of death agenda.
There are few more tricks up their sleeves. When they can't convince you, they don't have to! Whether it's Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance, or any other nation's health care system, they can simply reduce the rates of reimbursement to the hospitals for certain procedures, treatments or medications, or they can simply deny approval for those procedures, treatments or medications based upon your age. The "Complete Lives System" is beginning to be implemented as a guiding principle of the culture of death. The gist of it is: "you've lived a 'complete' life if you're over 50, 60, 70 or whatever arbitrary number they pick." After that age, you, and everyone else at that age, can be denied procedures, treatments or medications and it's not "discrimination" since all of you are being treated equally among your peers. It matters not that you are being discriminated against compared to all other younger citizen patients.
What happens when you are denied procedures, treatments or medications that you really need? Your health which normally is supposed to be supported, is destabilized, your health declines, you acquire acute symptoms of the disease you suffer from, and because those things you need are denied, you will be referred to? ... hospice. And in most cases, it will be a culture of death hospice. How do we know that it will be a culture of death hospice? Because the hospices around the country, their management, top administrators and staff are being guided by the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization which is the legal and corporate successor to? Yes, the former Euthanasia Society of America!9
Now it makes sense when health care professionals do things that seem incomprehensible and cause death at any point, any step on their stairway downward to death.
Many people today, certainly the younger generation, have not even experienced a society where the accepted "norm" was life-affirming care. They see the professional-looking physicians, nurses and other allied health professionals working in the hospitals, nursing homes and elsewhere. The staff have the same degrees, but the training is different. The mission is different. The motivation is different. The staff have the same intelligence and reasoning power as before, but it is wielded to a different end. "Professional," means something different today than it did years ago.
There was a time when the scientific spirit did not imply materialism, scientism or humanism. There was a time when the wonders of science were seen as revealing the wonders of the universe, revealing an ever-more detailed view of the genius of the Creator, who created an infinitely-complex universe that in every detail obeys the laws of nature He created.
There are still many scientists who acknowledge and believe in God, just as there are many physicians and nurses who believe in and acknowledge God. But the dominant force in modern health care and society is decidedly anti-God, anti-faith, anti-traditional values.
What about the culture of life? What about those who still practice reverence for life in the health care setting? How do they operate? What motivates them? And what difference does it make?
When we recognize God as the Creator of all life, we understand where our human rights come from. If human rights come from any government or any person or society, then they can be taken away should that government, person or society change its position. But when our human rights come from God, they can never change, because God is "... the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." [Hebrews 13:8]
The only reliable, unchanging source of human rights is God Himself. As we have seen, the founders of the United States of America recognized these rights as being "self-evident" and coming from the Creator when they wrote that Declaration of Independence. "Self-evident" to those of faith in a Creator. Not "self-evident" to those who are materialists or humanists of the many varieties out there.
There are groups who are pro-life who assert the right-to-life based on various logical and quite sound arguments. The problem with these arguments in changing lives, or convincing others, is that those who use reason to "justify" preconceived notions leading to a culture of death position do not start with logic or objective facts. They start with the conclusion they already have accepted, because it "feels" right, because it is "what they want to do now and nobody is going to stop them," and then they find arguments that appear to justify their position (as we have seen above in the stairway to death). They are not receptive to logical argument and are not convinced by logical argument.
It is wonderful to use logic and reason to arrive at an affirmation of the human right to life, but it is not effective in the long run to use these as the foundation for right-to-life efforts. Reason alone can be used to argue for the ethics of death, and it can be used to argue for the ethics of life. Just as a house built on sand can not stand, a pro-life effort founded solely on "human rights" that are not derived from faith in the Creator God, cannot last. Establishing the pro-life effort on the recognition and love for the Creator God is establishing this work on a rock, the unchanging foundation of the dear Lord. [Matthew 7:24]
Once we reverently acknowledge God as the source of all that is, even all of our lives, we know that we have a "right to life," because He created our lives and has expressed His concern that we live, that life be protected and served:
The dear Lord has shown us that when we do these things, we will be blessed by His Father God. In revealing how we serve Him, He also showed us our duty to serve others. With every right comes a duty or responsibility, and our responsibility is to life, to revere the life He gives and to serve Him through those who are here with us, the "least of these" with us, who are those in need. He shows us that looking after those who are ill is a service done for His sake, that health care is above all a spiritual mission!
So, the human rights He mentions: to food, fluid, housing for those without shelter, clothing, care for the sick, visits for those imprisoned ... these are known through His divine revelation and confirmed by our right use of our reasoning ability. We use science, technology and all skills and knowledge for the betterment of mankind acknowledging the source of our abilities.
We don't deny scientific inquiry or achievement. We applaud their achievements when rightly used in service to mankind. We simply require that scientific inquiry be honestly and ethically performed, and be objectively carried out, as science is intended to be and is defined. There is nothing that science can discover, or has discovered, that "proves" God does not exist or that He is likely not to exist. Everything science discovers only reveals the nature of the universe and that which is being studied. Whatever we learn, that we can understand some of what is happening in the universe does not mean there was no Creator.
In fact, the more we learn about this wondrous and exquisitely intricate and organized world of ours, the more infinitely unlikely it is that it all came together, perfectly organized, due to random chance occurrences over time. Order can never come consistently from disorder or chance. Never. What that source of order is that allowed for the ordered "laws of nature" is, can be thought of in many ways, but "the Creator" is how those of us with faith call Him.
The odds that the conditions for our life here on Earth occurring in precisely the exact way required for our existence have been calculated. The odds are infinitely against the chance that these conditions were created out of random occurrences.10 Just as the chances of your car having assembled itself are zero, the chances of perfectly organized, living, intelligent and self-replicating animals and human beings arising out of a "primordial soup" is zero, no matter how many people believe such nonsense. Order does not come from disorder.
Albert Schweitzer, MD, the medical missionary and humanitarian, was given a Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for actually giving his life in service to humanity. The Time Magazine cover from that time has a picture of Dr. Schweitzer and below that caption is written: "He who loses his life shall find it." It comes from the book of Matthew 10:39, but it is intentionally misquoted. The dear Lord told us that:
Time magazine's version, "He who loses his life shall find it," may or may not be true. But, whoever loses his life for God's sake will find it, ... that is a completely different statement and is true! Leaving out the reference to God makes the statement of wisdom found in Matthew 10:39 unwise. Leaving it as it is shows us that self-sacrifice and a spirit of service to God will be rewarded by God, that we will find our real life, that such self-sacrifice will lead to blessings in our lives and afterward in heaven.
In a spirit of sacrifice, filled with love for the dear Lord and his fellow human beings, Dr. Schweitzer dedicated his life to the cause of service to others. Dr. Schweitzer spent decades of his life helping those desperately in need of medical care in Africa and gave up a life of comfort in Europe in order to serve, but he found what life and health care is really about: love.
He demonstrated for all the world to see, the stairway of life. In his work as a medical missionary, in creating a hospital for his patients, he practiced and taught reverence for life. At every step in caring, treating, feeding, housing or simply "being with" his patients, he affirmed life and promoted the well-being of the people he served, his patients.
Just as every step on the stairway to death is a point where death can and is imposed, every step along the stairway of life is a point where life continues to be supported and protected, revered, and loved. We do not choose to determine when death occurs, so, the stairway of life is about the patient's living and continued living, from life now, to life now, to life now, in the ever-renewing moment that is life itself. This is our mission as those who work to promote life and care for our patients. This is the pro-life mission.
There is no place for the imposition of death or manipulation of death in a culture of life health care system. There is no place for deception and no place for re-defining the obvious meaning of terms like "life," "death," "killing," "person," "baby" "basic care," or "care" in the culture of life health care system. There is no place for casually riding roughshod over the patient's wishes. Schweitzer recognized that all living things have a will to live and stated that the appropriate ethical response is to practice reverence for life.
"... life is extraordinary. Every scientific advance tells us this. We now know the billion to one chances ever since the Big Bang that have enabled life to develop and then to survive on this planet, and the extreme rarity of it in the universe. More than ever, we have good reason to feel reverence for it."
Dame Cicely Saunders, the Christian physician who founded the modern hospice movement demonstrated the same reverence for life in her work,12
"Anything which says to the ill that they are a burden to their family and that they are better off dead is unacceptable. What sort of society could let its old folk die because they are in the way?"
"You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die."
Is there any doubt about the life-affirming message of this pro-life leader who sought to incorporate the very best of modern medical science into the care for those who are approaching closer to the end-of-life? Her mission, and the mission of caring for those approaching the end-of-life, or caring for those at any stage of life, is based upon a fervent faith in God and a desire to express that faith through loving-kindness toward all our fellow human beings.
The right to life is based upon the Creator. He has forbidden imposed death in the Ten Commandments as just about everyone knows, "Thou shalt not kill!" He would not forbid killing if there were no right to life. Killing is forbidden precisely because the life He gives is to be revered, protected and served.
The dear Lord told us,
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Each step of the stairway of life is composed of love. When we "love each other," we protect, serve and care for each other. If we "lay down ... [our] life for ... [our] friends," we would do it that they live, never that they die or to kill them. He told us:
"... I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." [John 10:11]
It is certain that He cares about our lives, that it is His will that we live, that we have a right to life. In fact, He said, "... I am the way, the truth, and the life ...." [John 14:6] It is inconceivable for anyone filled with faith to intend to kill or impose death within a health care or any other setting.
Those of us who are of faith, must be "missionaries for life," advocates for life, filled with the reverence for life that the Lord demonstrated on so many occasions when He healed the sick, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind or helped those who were disabled to walk.
While the culture of death employs principles such as "autonomy, beneficence, and justice" in a constantly shifting "shell game" to assure death when the patient is no longer valued as a "worthwhile" life, the culture of life employs principles such as reverence for life, charity, humility, kindness, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, justice, mercy and faithfulness. There is a world of difference between the stairway to death and the stairway of life!
There is a world of difference in motivation between those who serve life and those who casually impose death. There is a world of difference between the "human rights" logically arrived at starting from the recognition that a wondrous, loving, infinite God exists, and the "human rights" logically arrived at starting from a belief that no God and no spiritual purpose exists, that we simply by chance "happened" for no ultimate purpose.
There can only be a very perverse type of "love" within a culture of death health care setting, no matter how "professional" those who work there appear, and no matter how well-educated or technically-gifted they may be. If one is willing to kill the object of your "service," your "love" is the equivalent of what would arise from one who hated, or what would arise from one who was tragically misguided and blind to the terrible harm and evil being done. Can we call killing the patient "love?" Is this where the culture of death would lead us?
Communicating the reverence for God and life in the pro-life work we do, we affirm the culture of life and the right to life of each patient we serve, who are given to us that we serve them, who are our brothers and sisters on this Earth. Those who tell us not to use words like "God," even if we are pro-life, would force us to discard the most powerful tool we have in this battle that is waged by the culture of death against the culture of life, by darkness against the light. That "tool?" God, Himself!
When people stand outside an abortion clinic and simply pray that the women entering there will have their eyes opened, that their hearts will be melted and that the Spirit of God will wake them out of their blind slumber, something powerful happens. Lives are saved. Right reason and conscience are awakened and used correctly to see the life of the unborn as precious. Mothers who had decided to kill their children in an abortion clinic suddenly walk out and their lives are changed. People are brought into this world who would have died. That is the method of the 40 Days for Life13 prayer ministry that has been so very effective in saving unborn lives.
The dear Lord walked this Earth about 2000 years ago, in a culture that was dominated by the Roman Empire. It was a different culture, but it was a culture of death, much death. He was concerned about "human rights" of all sorts. He gave us an example of how men and women could respect each other, how precious children were and are, how much life matters. He cried when He heard that His friend Lazarus had died. He wept for the disaster He knew would come to Jerusalem and the people there in days to come. He healed the sick and showed a way that man could live a blessed life. Do you know anyone who would say that Jesus was not "pro-life," or that He did not care about "human rights?." If anyone was "pro-life," it was Jesus.
"One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.
If the dear Lord with His infinite wisdom, being the perfect pro-life advocate, and living within one of the most lethal culture of death environments imaginable, never hesitated in mentioning God, in fact, mentioned Him wherever He went, ... why shouldn't we?
If the dear Lord told us that the greatest commandment, the most important thing of all things to do, was to acknowledge that "the Lord our God, the Lord is one" and that we should "Love the Lord" our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength," we must acknowledge that the Lord our God is one, that He exists.
Many people think the first greatest commandment is just about loving God with all we are. They leave out the first part, which the dear Lord mentioned first of all, and is supremely important: the acknowledgement, the witness, the testimony that God is, and that He is one, that He is our God. He is my God!
I have no doubt that basing the pro-life mission on God, the Creator, and loving Him with all we are, is the first step toward a successful mission to promote a culture of life and true "human rights." I know that the second step in the pro-life mission is accomplished when we "love our neighbor as ourselves," whether at the end-of-life, the beginning of life, or any stage of life. He told us what we need to say and do!
2. Mike Celizic, "Pronounced dead, man takes ‘miraculous' turn," March 24, 2008, Today, NBC News. Also see:
7. Paul A Byrne, MD, "Vital Organ Transplantation
and 'Brain Death' - A Re-Examination of the Basic Issues,"
9. Ron Panzer, "From Euthanasia Society of America to the Natl Hospice & Palliative Care Organization
11. Albert Schweitzer, MD, "The Discovery & Meaning of Reverence for Life," 1915. Not online. Back
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