“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Monday, September 22, 2014

AMERICA SHOULD NOT RATIFY U.N. DISABILITY TREATY

The United Nations hopes all countries will ratify its 
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
(CRDP). Unfortunately it is an inferior yet pervasive document that requires nations to give up their sovereignty in too many areas pertaining to citizens with disabilities. 

Perhaps the CRDP has a place in countries with poor human rights records, but that is not the United States of America. The United States has a long history ― far superior to the United Nations ― of protecting and improving the lives of people with disabilities within America and abroad. As a North American advocate for Life and disability issues, I have wondered why the United States would sign it. To what advantage? The United States should be teaching the United Nations about disability rights.

For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets an exceptional standard for real disability inclusion. It is an extraordinary law that other countries can aspire to imitate, including my country of Canada.  For years I advocated that my government create a “Canadians with Disabilities Act” that mirrored the ADA.  A federal statute like this combined with other federal, provincial and territorial disability legislation and policies is the best way to address needs, protections, and inclusion of disabled populations. A blanket international document like the CRPD is too clumsy and generic to be effective or precise. Unfortunately Canada ratified it in 2010.

Now we have to toe the U.N. line, dutifully submitting our progress reports ― like a child handing in school assignments for approval. I do not want America to make the same mistake! As I stated earlier, not only is the United Nations treaty an inferior and flawed document, it requires ratifying nations to give up too much of their own sovereignty regarding their citizens with disabilities. Nations that ratify the CRDP are legally obligated to implement the treaty’s global legal standards in “civil, political, economic and social spheres”: In other words, EVERY sphere of life. The CRDP legal standard is overseen by the ‘benevolent’ tyranny of a UN bureaucratic committee; it will interpret the treaty and tell ratifying nations what to do. Is this really what America wants?!

The CRDP is carried along with an air of contemptuous
superiority and condescension for member states. Article 4 says that “States Parties undertake to ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability.” The United States does not need to be told this by the U.N.!  America is the greatest defender of human rights and ‘fundamental freedoms’ in the world.

Once the United States is under the thumb of UN bureaucrats behind the CRDP they can/will declare the U.S. must “take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against persons with disabilities.” (Article 4.1.b)  Who will decide what constitutes disability discrimination and which American laws, regulations customs and practices must be modified or abolished? 

A CRDP compliance committee of ‘experts’ will tell America what she must do to adhere to the treaty’s standards. Once in the CRDP snare, the U.S. cannot re-negotiate the treaty’s provision that will extend its tentacles even down to family levels (see Article 8.1.a). It’s too pervasive! 

The United States’ Congress will soon be asked to ratify the U.N.’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I implore America not to sign it. Your greatness is found within you by ordinary people doing ordinary things, not imposed from outside bureaucrats. 

(A version of this post appeared on 21 September 2014 in the U.S. Congress blog the hill.com for lawmakers and policy professionals, (http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/218254-us-should-not-sign-un-disability-convention). 

Mark Davis Pickup
[Click on image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLMVB0B1_Ts For Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."]

Friday, September 19, 2014

THE CELLO !

If I was able to start my life over, and if I was not disabled by multiple sclerosis, I think I would study cello. I love the cello's depth, mournful elegance and versatility. 

Here for you listening pleasure is Serbian-Russian cellist Xena Jankovic playing Beethoven's Cello Concerto, No. 5 in D major, Movement 1. Click on image or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNT_EOA8ksY




WESLEY J. SMITH WRITES ABOUT DENIERS OF HUMAN DIGNITY

Wesley J. Smith
Wesley J. Smith's latest offering in the 19 September 2014 edition of First Things online magazine appears under the title STANDING AGAINST THE "HUMAN DIGNITY DENIERS". See 
http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/09/standing-against-the-human-dignity-deniers  

I have republished it below, with permission. -- MDP
_______________________

God may not be dead, but considering the imago Dei in philosophical discourse and public policy certainly is. Not only that, but the rational reasons for acknowledging the exceptional dignity of humans are wrongly denigrated as merely reflecting our religious past in which rigid moralism supposedly trumped reason.


Today’s dominant cultural voices argue that an individual’s moral
worth should be predicated upon his or her individual capacities of the moment. This view is most acutely expressed in bioethics, the field that wields tremendous influence over health-care public policies and in the ethical protocols of medicine.

The potential that denying human dignity has to oppress, exploit, harvest, and kill the weakest and most vulnerable among us hangs in the air like malodorous evidence of a ruptured sewer line. In 2010, bioethicist Alasdair Cochrane clearly identified the ominous stakes:
If all individual human beings possess dignity, then they should not be viewed simply as resources that we can treat however we please. To take an example, then, it may be that we could achieve rapid and significant progress in medical science if we were to conduct wide-ranging medical experiments on groups of human beings. However, because human beings have dignity, so it is argued, this means that they possess a particular quality that grounds certain moral obligations and rights.
Even so, Cochrane wants to “purge dignity from bioethics” and judge individual “moral status” based on “the characteristics that warrant” a finding of “moral worth.”

He’s not alone. In recent years, prominent bioethicists have proposed various moral status formulas to justify allowing “after-birth abortion” (otherwise known as infanticide), non-voluntary euthanasia of Alzheimer’s patients, and the use of profoundly disabled humans in dangerous medical experiments—just to name a few of the policy proposals that would obliterate our inalienable right to life.

Outside of religious bioethics advocacy—which holds virtually no sway in the field—there has been scarce intellectual pushback against undignified bioethics. That is why I was heartened to read a just-published article in the Cambridge Quarterly of Health Care Ethics that self-consciously stands against the “dignity deniers.” In “Dignity and the Ownership of Body Parts,” Oxford law professor Charles Foster defines our dignity as “objective human flourishing”:
Our main concern should be not abstract human thriving but the thriving of a particular human being. It is her humanization that should be the object of ethical discussion. . . . All of which boils down to the proposition that human dignity is objective thriving in the biological, societal, geographical, and other circumstances in which the individual finds herself. (emphasis mine)


In other words, the profoundly disabled human being and the
athlete each possess intrinsic dignity and, hence, must be treated in ways that recognize their best respective potential to thrive. Many bioethicists, in direct contrast, want to distinguish between the athlete and the profoundly disabled person based on their subjective belief that the robust individual has a higher quality of life. Such relativist thinking has already seeped into public policies, such as health-care rationing in the U.K., widely espoused for adoption.


Most impressively, Foster defends the dignity of permanently unconscious people, currently the prime targets for being stripped of equal moral status in utilitarian bioethical advocacy:
Is there any sense at all in which she can be said to be thriving? Yes, and two points can be made in support of this conclusion. First, her story (which in many ways is her) continues. The story is the necessary substrate for any ethical considerations that concern her. And second, there are good stories and bad stories, and it is better for her (a betterness accurately described in terms of thriving) for her story to be a good one. That is why we rightly say that it would offend her dignity were her body to be used by medical students to practice rectal and vaginal examinations.
Foster also gets into a point relevant to the Terri Schiavo case:
There are the interests of her family and friends. The patient might be incapable of appreciating her relationships, but that does not mean that she does not have relationships, or that the appreciation of those relationships is not an important part of the thriving interests of others. Going to see her each day might be the only thing that keeps her parents going.
Foster answers the dignity deniers’ objection that part of a good life is altruism—so why not, as has frequently been proposed in bioethics, harvest the unconscious patient’s organs?
Everyone, in fact, has a dignity interest vested in this particular patient. The criminal recognizes that society as a whole is damaged by, for instance, a murder. This is not merely or mainly because, if murder goes unpunished, murders will proliferate and the risk of each one of us being murdered rises. More important is what the fact of the unpunished murder says about the zeitgeist—about the ethical water in which we all have to swim. A society that tolerates murder is toxic, and the toxicity affects the ability of us all to thrive.
The moral heft of the last point—that denying dignity adversely
impacts the zeitgeist—also is relevant to other lethal matters such
as euthanasia and abortion. Foster somewhat dilutes his clarion call for dignity by proposing a complicated formula for its implementation. But that’s a quibble. His is a rare voice in secular bioethics pushing back against those who would objectify the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

Good. We need all the help we can get in the Alamo.


Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism and a consultant for the Patients Rights Council.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

EARLY DAYS OF GRIEF

A family friend recently lost his wife to cancer. They were married for 65 years. He is suffering intense agony of grieving. My most recent column for the Western Catholic Reporter (Canada) addresses the topic of early days of grief after losing a loved one. See the link below.
http://www.wcr.ab.ca/Columns/OpinionsStories/tabid/70/entryid/5946/Default.aspx

Monday, September 15, 2014

SONG OF HOPE IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING: INTRODUCING COMPOSER LAURA HARWOOD!

Laura Harwood
I want to introduce readers of this blog to 15 year old composer Laura Harwood and her family. They live with numerous physical challenges; yet despite this they have in the hope and assurance of Jesus Christ. I will not say anything more and let Laura introduce you to her "SONG OF HOPE". Click on link below

http://www.harwoodfamilymusic.com/#!Song-of-Hope-2013-Music-Video/c13o2/2EADB124-B9E0-42BF-BD8C-713AD8640B64

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

APOSTLE TO SLAVES

Saint Peter Claver
“To do the will of God, man must despise his own; the more he dies to himself, the more he will live to God.

- St. Peter Claver

Saint Peter Claver (1580-1654) was known as the "Apostle to the Negro slaves." He was a priest in Cartagena which was a port that served the lucrative and brutal slave trade.  He would enter ships as they drew near the shore to feed and care for their human cargo and defend them against their oppressors. His self-denial for the sake of black slaves was remarkable. Not only did he minister to them upon arrival in Cartagena but cared for them once on plantations and advocated to their owners kindness and fairness. During Peter Claver's lifetime he baptised more than 300,000 black slaves into the Christian faith, and sought to end the slave trade. He died in 1654 but his spiritual legacy continues to this day. Yesterday was the feast of Saint Peter Claver, Patron Saint of Slaves.


"I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The faith I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2.20)

[Click on image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaKf6P2nhKg for the Harlem Gospel Choir singing Amazing Grace.]




Thursday, September 4, 2014

DIGNITY NOT FOUND IN EUTHANASIA OR ASSISTED SUICIDE

Wesley J. Smith is considered one of America's top bioethical thinkers. I agree with that assessment. For many years he has been warning America, and the world, about the dangers of assisted suicide and euthanasia to the seriously ill and severely disabled. His warnings are coming true just as he predicted in his writings, speeches and books like FORCED EXIT: THE SLIPPERY SLOPE FROM ASSISTED SUICIDE TO LEGALIZED MURDER, first published in 1997 and revised in 2003. 

Former United States Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop said this about Wesley's FORCED EXIT:
C. Everett Koop

"Society will rue the day it permits doctors to be killers as well as healers. Wesley J. Smith offers a compelling argument legalizing assisted suicide and clearly explains the devastating effects it will have on an unwary public. Smith has done us all a great service with this important primer."

Dr. Chris Simpson, the new president of  the Canadian Medical Association, should have taken FORCED EXIT under advisement before making his odious comments that doctor assisted death can be appropriate after other options are exhausted. (See my previous blog.)


Assisted suicide and euthanasia are erroneously presented as a liberator for the terminally/incurable ill and disabled. In fact, euthanasia and assisted suicide devalue our lives. 

We see this in language, such as calling people vegetables. It's as derogatory as calling blacks the "N" word. In fact, I remember hearing that someone predicted my degenerative multiple sclerosis would leave me a vegetable. (I'm still waiting for my grey hair to turn to a leafy top.)  

On September 2nd 2014, Wesley J. Smith wrote about the term "vegetable" used to describe profoundly disabled or comatose people in an article for the National Review. See "Taking pride in V-word "Unrepentant Bigotry"" http://www.nationalreview.com/human-exceptionalism/386861/taking-pride-v-word-unrepentant-bigotry-wesley-j-smith 

Let's give respect and dignity to everybody, even to profoundly disabled or dying people. Calling them names or killing them is not respect.

Mark