Human Exceptionalism

Good Summary of My Speech at the Anti Euthanasia Symposium

A reporter from Life Site News.com covered my speech at the anti euthanasia symposium and did a fine job summarizing what I said over a one hour speech. (I also like the photo).  From the story:

Reflecting on the euthansia agenda amid the modern advances in palliative care, Smith asked, “Why now?”…“We live in a time of – even despite the problems we’re having – such tremendous prosperity,” said Smith. “If you had a burst appendix 100 years ago, you died in agony. Today, people don’t have to, at least in the developed world, die in agony.”

Smith said he was further baffled after receiving piles of hate mail in 1993 for writing an article warning against euthanasia. “What happened to my culture, and where was I when it happened?” he mused. Smith said he found the answer in the reflections of philosopher and bioethicist Yuval Levin, who stated: “Health has become the primary good for society … not only as a beginning, but also as an end, relief and preservation from disease and pain, from misery and necessity, become the defining ends of human action and therefore human societies.”

“The purpose of society had shifted from when I was growing up in my formative years,” said Smith. “From the concept of justice, from the concept of equality, mutual caring and mutual support, to – I would say – an obsessional fear and loathing and avoidance of not only suffering, but difficulty…“It is distorting our culture … into something that is not as compassionate as we should be, that is not as caring as we should be,” said Smith. “If the point of society is to make sure you don’t suffer, that will often be making sure there aren’t any sufferers. Which isn’t only about making sure the sufferer doesn’t suffer, but putting the sufferer out of our misery.”

“If we’re going to defeat euthanasia and assisted suicide, we’re going to have to recognize that for a lot of people, the principle of right and wrong don’t matter anymore,” said Smith. “What matters is making sure there isn’t suffering. And that can lead to some very bad and dark places.”…“There are many things today that are better than in my formative years, racism being one of them,” he continued, “but there are a lot of things that are not, and this is one of them: abandoning suffering people, mentally ill, mentally anguished people, to suicide.”

My only complaint is that I made a point in the speech of emphasizing the human duty to alleviate and mitigate each other’s suffering.  I don’t want anyone thinking I said anything anywhere close to the canard that has been occasionally been made against me, e.g, that I want people to suffer or am indifferent to suffering.  My view is: Care, yes; care radically, yes; kill no.

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