“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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

AN IDEA: CHRISTIAN TV SERIES TO COUNTER NEXT ASSAULT ON LIFE

Earlier in my life numerous people tried to lure me to central Canada and away from my little French town in the hinterland of western Canada. Perhaps the most tempting that I remember was being offered a job to host a national TV series the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) was planning in 1990. The series was about issues surrounding disabilities and showcasing the lives of Canadians with physical and mental challenges.


The CBC flew me to Ottawa to meet with a senior official at an elegant restaurant who presented me with the idea. There was only one catch: I would have to uproot my family and move to Toronto or Ottawa (I can't remember which city) and leave our small town life. It was an extraordinary opportunity to be sure -- one of the best I was ever offered during my short career. I must admit that I was tempted. 


But the timing was wrong: My children were young and settled; to uproot them would have been too disruptive to their lives. Besides, we had extended family near who needed us. I looked out the restaurant window while the executive producer for the series sat across the table waiting for my response to her offer to host the show. That still small voice inside me said, "Let it pass." Reluctantly I turned down the opportunity.

Dreams of grandeur becoming reality were not mine to have. God planned something else for me: Quiet contemplation in the midst of physical struggle rather than a television show. To the world, God's plan might have seemed laughable compared to the lights and glamour of television. 

Looking back now, as an old man, God wanted to teach me something critically important that can only be learned in quietude: The art of true love (both human and divine). God wanted me to stay put and wait on Him. Sometimes people see clearest looking through the blur of tears.

Just over a year later my disability forced me to retire and live on a
modest disability pension. My disease kept ravaging my body and forcing my type A personality into stillness and contemplation. Days, months and years were spent convalescing while looking out my kitchen window as seasons passed. Successive generations of blue jays flew to my backyard’s maple trees. My hair turned white. Grandchildren were born. That still small voice whispered, “Be open to love for in love you will find God.” I discovered it is true. The meaning of my life did not come in a thunder-clap of glory rather in a breeze and ordinary rhythms of life. 

I am reminded of a conversation in a 1985 television production Anne of Green Gables where Anne says, “I went looking for my ideals outside myself and discovered it’s not what the world holds you, it’s what you bring to it. The dreams that are dearest to my heart are right here. I don’t want sun bursts and marble halls. I just want you.”

The meaning of my life was to be found in front of television cameras, rather in the love of God and family. I have been as effective alone pecking away on a computer keyboard about Life and disability issues, as in any television studio in central Canada. 


This blog has developed a large following with  425,000 page views to date. Thousands of people visit the HumanLifeMatters blog each month and its beginning to attract attention.

Recently a documentary film maker flew out from Toronto to interview me at my Alberta home about assisted suicide. As you may know, Canada is about to embark into a bold and brutal world of state sanctioned assisted suicide of the sick, disabled and depressed. As the TV lights were being set up in my living room and sound levels checked, an old fantasy bubbled up in my little grey cells. 

I have often thought of revisiting the earlier idea CBC presented to me of hosting a series of television programs profiling individuals and families living with disabilities or chronic diseases. The series would be different from the CBC idea in that it would have a Christian orientation. It would delve into topics such as:

- People's realities with disability, chronic illness and exploring solutions to support life with dignity and purpose for individuals and their families; 
- the state of disability housing, education, transportation access and equal access to medical care in various jurisdictions;
explore advances in palliative medicine and the folly of introducing euthanasia into end of life care;
- bioethics behind futile care and withdrawal of treatment policies within various hospitals, or organ transplantation as it relates to equal access for people with disabilities;
- the coming tsunami of dementia among an aging population and public and community policies to support families in this situation;
- Profiles of various Christian hospice facilities and explore specialized care such as perinatal hospice; 
- Profiles of people who have been confronted with adult onset disabilities, how they adapted to their new realities, and were changed by their situations. If they did not adapt, what prevented them?;
- termination of pregnancies involving disabled children (90 percent of pregnancies involving a Downs baby end in abortion) and ways to support parents prior to and after making their decisions;
- Christian approaches to mental illnesses and care for the mentally ill and reclaiming a Christian moral consensus about the value of all human life.

Each topic would be cast against a backdrop of the true and fullest meaning of universal human rights, and the sanctity of human life within a context of the Common Good that seeks to help every individual reach their full potential. 

The television/new media series would attempt to counter and contrast the constant barrage of life denying secular media that promote unfettered personal autonomy and a right to death for oneself or others. This series would have a life affirming perspective that seeks to educate, understand and embrace full inclusion of people with disabilities or incurable illnesses, and their families, as indispensable members of our communities.



Perhaps the response to state sanctioned killing of the sick, disabled and old people within a dark culture of death should be told by an old man who has been incurably ill and disabled for half of his life (me). After all, assisted suicide and euthanasia targets the sick, disabled and old. I'm all three![1] I found purpose and meaning despite (or because) of suffering and adversity. Maybe it is time. The light of faith in Jesus Christ has guided me through personal and cultural darkness that did not prevail against me.

If I could only find a production house or television network prepared to take on the series and someone to finance it. I would revisit an idea that's been percolating in my little grey cells for 25 years.

Mark
_________________________
[1] I have a background in the media. I am a widely published writer. I graduated from Radio and Television Arts from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1975. I wrote, produced and narrated the 2001 euthanasia documentary "To be, or Not To Be -- the Human Family" aired and distributed by EWTN.

Monday, December 21, 2015

LOVE CAN TRANSCEND TRAGEDY AND GRIEF

LaRee gives a keynote
speech for the U.S.
National Right to Life
Prayer Breakfast 2010
I am re-posting material that appeared on this blog nearly six years ago. Since that time a number of friends and acquaintances have endured serious or terminal illnesses. And so I will re-post that previous post. In 2010 my wife LaRee gave a rare speech about her journey as a loved-one of someone with a degenerative and incurable disease. It was rare because she's terrified of public speaking, yet she gave a keynote address to a sold-out audience of 800 people at the U.S. National Right to Life Prayer Breakfast, in Baltimore. She spoke honestly from her heart. At times her voice quivered from fear and emotion but it was her humble offering to God and those present at the Prayer Breakfast. 

You could have heard a pin drop during her address. When she finished, the audience responded with a prolonged standing ovation. Many in the audience had disabled children, ailing spouses or parents. LaRee was swamped by people from all across the U.S.. She listened, consoled and prayed with people as they shared their pain with her. LaRee's tender and broken heart communicated easily with their broken hearts.  

Here again is some of the content of LaRee's keynote address.


 _______________

There is a special torment experienced by those who watch a loved-one suffer. To see disease rack their bodies, and souls, increases the sum total of suffering ... because I suffer too. I believe it is harder to watch degenerative disability torture and break my loved-one, than to actually suffer the disease. I watched my grandparents suffer infirmities associated with extreme age, such as blindness, Parkinson’s disease and cancer. I walked my mother through heart disease and dementia until her death in late 2013, at the age of 81 years.
                                                                                                         
Mark lives with the real symptoms of aggressive, degenerative
multiple sclerosis, which have limits. I am left to witness it all, ― and imagine. Imagination has no limits. I believe it is easier to be than to watch. Despite countless trials, love has prevailed. But love is like the two sides of a precious coin.

The two sides of love are this: It is life’s greatest ecstasy but also the cause of life’s greatest agonies and anguish. The 19th Century writer, Victor Hugo said, “To love or to have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life. To love is a consummation.”    -- And so it is.

Yet as a wife, mother and grandmother, I want more, and I ask further. I want to protect those I love from pain, emotional hurts, disappointments, and even life as it ends—but I cannot.

  So often I sat at the bedside of suffering loved-ones and prayed, “God, give me their pain” – as though there is some quota of suffering to be filled which I can bargain over with God. There is not.

When Mark and I married, he was so healthy and active. For the first eleven years of marriage he was a super-achiever not only in his career but with family life.

After being diagnosed with MS his career stalled and he was often too sick to participate in family activities he had previously led. Our children were 7 and 5 when Mark was diagnosed with MS. They had difficulty understanding why their Dad could not play and be active like he used to.

At the time that Mark was diagnosed with MS, I didn’t even know what the disease was. I had no idea of the impact it would have on our future. And so I began to research the medical literature and even visited a few auxiliary hospitals to see if I could pick out the people with MS. I noticed the canes, the crutches, the wheelchairs and scooters, the van contraptions and curb cuts. Multiple sclerosis meant disability! I looked into the faces of loved-ones of patients with MS and wondered if I could face the heart-break and hurt.

My initial reaction was anger. It was irrational but my immediate
response was anger. How could Mark do this to me? How dare he get sick! He was supposed to be the strong one. I was the weak one. “Damn you!” I thought. If one of us was to get sick, it should be me. I could cope better with a disease if I was the sick one.

I wanted to correct the fate God allowed by trying to convince Him he made a mistake. I was sad, and bitter but most of all ... I was afraid and angry with Mark and God.

Mark’s MS started changing him. I began to gauge the distance between benches in shopping malls in case he needed to sit with exhaustion. I started fearing places with crowds. He might get impatient and I would see a look of frustration on his face.

Then one afternoon I looked on in horror as my husband began crawling up the stairs in our bi-level house so he could use the toilet. I realized our life had changed and I had to make some decisions.  The first decision I had to make was whether I was prepared to stay in our marriage.


Don’t think I was not tempted. I was. Self-interest and my own internal poverty told me that divorce was easier. I could start over like many other women after divorce. I knew I could get help from other family members. They would understand. Even people at my work asked why I was staying with Mark because it was easier to walk away that to stay.

But abandonment is not love. It is a betrayal of love, solemn vows, and that which makes people fully human and civilized.

For me to walk away from Mark or agree to his suicide would have been a profound abandonment of him. It would also have been a profound abandonment of my own humanity and what matters most to me: My family and love.

I decided to stay in my marriage and trust that God would see us through to a sacred place of grace and understanding. After 43 years of marriage (32 living with Mark’s MS) I think I have discovered something about love.

Human interdependence, based upon love (both human and divine), is capable of helping us transcend beyond difficult or tragic circumstances and opens new understanding of what it means to be human and part of the human family. I am now convinced a truly civilized society has no place for euthanasia or assisted suicide. It is more inviting that that. People with disabilities or incurable illnesses are, in reality, indispensable to our communities – their lives are full of potential and meaning. Value them, include and protect them.


Friday, December 18, 2015

EUTHANIZING CANADA

2016 will see the beginning of a new dark chapter for Canada.
Canada's high court with low decisions
Killing off the sick and disabled will receive official government sanction. As you may know, in a UNANIMOUS decision Canada's Supreme Court struck down the nation's laws against assisted suicide and gave the federal government a year to put in place parameters for physician imposed death within a new legal framework. 


What parameters?! It's going to be wide open season on the sick, disabled and depressed. In the high court's low decision they declared laws against assisted suicide to be "void insofar as they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life; and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition. "Irremediable" it should be added, does not require the patient to undertake treatments that are unacceptable to the individual."

Translation: It's wide open euthanasia and assisted suicide beginning in 2016. Guidelines will be a ruse, mere formalities to give an air of respectability to murder. 


Documentary filmmaker
Kevin Dunn and me
Recently I was interviewed by the documentary filmmaker Kevin Dunn as we await Canada's Brave New World to come into its full and hideous bloom. What did I say? I said that by definition civilized, and enlightened societies never endorse or support killing its citizens -- especially those you have despaired of life and are vulnerable to suicide. 

Civilized people certainly don't help the suicidal kill themselves. Autonomy is a myth. If I choose suicide it doesn't affect me alone. It will affect my wife, children and grandchildren. It will affect my physician because I will ask her to stop being my healer and become my killer. And in a small way it will impact my nation by helping to further entrench the notion there is such a thing as a life unworthy to be lived. No matter how sick I become I still have a responsible to others, the Common Good and posterity.

You can't have unfettered autonomy and interdependent community too. They are diametrically opposite ideas. You can't have both. You must choose which it shall be.  

Canada post-2016 will not only kill its sick and disabled, it may well kill the collective conscience of a nation and gut its soul.   

For interviews or bookings to speak contact me at HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca

Monday, December 14, 2015

"UNLESS TRUTH BE A MOCKERY AND JUSTICE A HOLLOW LIE"

On January 22nd 2016, good people from across America will gather in Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life. It is a solemn annual observance of 58 million unborn human lives deliberately killed by abortion under the infamous 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court legalizing abortion throughout America. The holocaust of posterity continues unabated year after year.

If past such gathering are any indication, hundreds of thousands of pro-life Americans will descend on the national Capitol with a united and abiding hope for an enlightened future where every life will be cherished, cared for and protected. America's pro-life people are some of the finest citizens in the nation! 



Yes, they mourn the senseless loss of life by abortion; they decry its continuance for forty-two years. They dare to hope for an end to the wanton slaughter of the youngest members of America's human community. They understand and still hold to the self-evident truth articulated in their foundational and towering Declaration, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Real liberty and happiness are never won by oppression or killing the weakest in society. Never confuse licence with liberty.

And so hundreds of thousands of  America's best citizens will
go to Washington to demand that the abortion holocaust end. They hope and demand a better future of human equality even though their voices may fall on deaf ears of the President and Democrats in the U.S. Congress. But they are compelled by conscience, decency and faith to speak the truth anyway. They are not the first to do this. People against slavery went before them a few hundred years earlier. 

Abraham Lincoln said:


"We will win more converts each day. We will grown strong by the violence and the injustice of our adversaries and unless truth be a mockery and justice a hollow lie, we will be in the majority."




Truth is not a mockery. Justice is not a hollow lie. The goodness within America's pro-Life citizens knows this. Their commitment to life must not wane, they must tire or despair during these dark times.

The glorious day of a culture of life is still far off. A new cultural storm is gathering on the horizon in the form of euthanasia and assisted suicide acceptance.  People of Life must brace for another battle. Menacing clouds of untruth and injustice threaten all they (and I) hold dear. People of life must stand resolute and strong against a new storm of state sanctioned killing. 

It is precisely because truth is not a mockery and justice not a hollow lie, that God's people must stand against the lies and injustice that swept abortion across the landscape. It is necessary again because soon the lies of unfettered autonomy and twisted notions of choice will swallow up incurably ill, disabled and defeated Americans by euthanasia and assisted suicide; they will sink beneath storm-tossed waves of their circumstances. 

Some truths are are self-evident but so are some lies. To borrow a adaptation of Abraham Lincoln's words, the pro-Life cause will win more converts each day. We will grown strong by the violence and the injustice of our adversaries ..." 

Yes, it is precisely because truth is not a mockery and Justice is not a hollow lie that I believe the sky will one day clear to reveal sunlight uplands of God's Truth. Justice will brightly shine again and the madness of our culture of death will fade away and pass into history like a bad dream. 


Human life in every state and stage will be embraced as indispensable members of the human community. Future generations will look back at this dark time with the same disdain as we look back at slavery. 

I have been asked by the Archdiocese of Washington to speak to the
St, Matthew the Apostle
Cathedral, Washington, DC
Adult Rally and Mass
 at St. Matthew the Apostle Cathedral, just prior to the 2016 March for Life. (It is where President Kennedy's body lay in-state after his 1963 assassination.) I feel sheepish and ashamed to enter the august company of America's great pro-Life citizens.

I will simply go as a man who has an abiding love for America and has endured incurable disease and disability for more than 30 years. I will speak against two assisted suicide bills being entertained by the legislatures in Maryland and District of Columbia. I will speak about men and abortion for I personally know that grief too. I will speak about caring for loved-ones at the end of life because that too is part of my life experience.  

But mostly I want to encourage good and upright American people not to despair in standing for truth and justice that is found in a culture of life. I want to encourage them on in unflagging commitment to end abortion and speak for life with dignity -- even when life is at its end.

I will remind them of the courageous voices of the past who spoke against slavery in America. They are our example. They did not stop until slavery was stopped. Nor should pro-life citizens stop advocating for every life until every life is cared for and protected. It is critically important, because, just as we hear in the clip below, "what it in fact concerns, is the very nature of man."

[See video clip below from the movie 1997 movie Amistad with Sir Anthony Hopkins portraying the historical event of John Quincy Adams addressing the U.S. Supreme Court on slavery.] 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

PLEADING FOR THE LIFE OF A TEXAN SENTENCED TO DEATH

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pT8hOQ2WSU


Chris Dunn
Texas Right to Life is working to save a vulnerable Texan, David Christopher "Chris" Dunn, from being euthanized against his will at Houston Methodist Hospital. Under the state's draconian Texas Advanced Directives Act (TADA) the hospital has arbitrarily decided to withdraw Mr. Dunn's life sustaining treatment. Mr. Dunn wants to live as you can plainly see from the video at the link above.
Texas Governor
Greg Abbott


Below is a letter I have mailed to Texas' Governor Greg Abbott pleading for Mr. Dunn's life.


I ask readers of the HumanLifeMatters blog to send the Governor a twitter message asking that every effort be made to save David Christopher Dunn's life by moving him to another facility where he will be safe and given the therapies and treatments he needs to live to his full potential.  Governor Abbott's twitter address @GregAbbott_TX  Please be respectful.

See below the text of my letter mailed 09 December 2015. I also alerted Governor Abbot by Twitter of this blog post which will give him immediate access to the contents of my correspondence. 
(There must be something he can do as Governor of Texas. The Governor can commute death sentences of murderers on death row. Surely he must be able to commute the death sentence imposed on a helpless man by the terrible Texas Advanced Directives Act!)
__________________________________________________

08 December 2015

The Honorable Greg Abbott
Governor of Texas
P.O. Box 12428
AUSTIN, TEXAS
76711-2428
                
Dear Governor Abbott:

RE: DAVID CHRISTOPHER “CHRIS” DUNN                                                                    

David Christopher Dunn is a patient at Houston Methodist Hospital. He is about to be killed against his wishes, under the Texas Advanced Directives Act (TADA). Mr. Dunn is unable to defend himself against removal of life sustaining treatment.

I plead with you to intervene long enough for Mr. Dunn’s family, and his allies, to find another facility where he will be safe. Please use your authority or influence to ask the courts to give a time extension to Mr. Dunn’s life sustaining treatment and care, or persuade the Houston Methodist Hospital to cooperate until another facility can be found where he will be safe.

Thank you for reading my appeal for David Christopher Dunn. I would like to take this opportunity to wish a Merry Christmas to you and your loved-ones.

Sincerely yours, 

Mark Davis Pickup


CC:      Dr. Marc L. Boon, President and CEO, Houston Methodist Hospital, 6565 Fannin Street, Houston Texas, U.S.A.,77030

Thursday, December 3, 2015

OPPOSE ASSISTED SUICIDE FOR THE SAKE DISABILITY RIGHTS

We are at the end of the 2015 International Day of People with Disabilities. People of good will and those concerned about human rights must resolve to oppose assisted suicide. Why? Because assisted suicide is specifically targeted at people with incurable or chronic illnesses and disabilities. Assisted suicide does not further inclusion, it is the ultimate exclusion. 

Disability rights, dignity, respect of human difference, and the
important quest for non-discrimination will ultimately suffer if assisted suicide is accepted. In the same way suicide prevention is an important mental health tool for healthy and able-bodied suicidal people, the same must apply for disabled suicidal people. 

Christians have a crucial role to play to promote full inclusion that can rise to its highest level under the lordship of Jesus Christ.