Physician-turned-author Walker Percy’s final novel, The Thanatos Syndrome, published in 1987, tells the odd tale of a town wherein the ‘elites’ are devolving – or is that de-evolving? – the minds of its citizens into ape-like status by adding ‘sodium ions’ to the water supply. As they act more like chimpanzees, the townspeople become ever-more compliant, no longer able to resist by reason, reduced to thinking about, and acting upon, simian sex all day. (As far as I can recall, such allusions are all PG-rated, and references indirect). Their nefarious purpose? The aptly named anti-hero, Thomas More, a semi-retired, cynical, burned-out physician, discovers they are also killing off the old and sick, while destroying the minds and souls of the hale and healthy, to set up a regime wherein they can corrupt and sexually abuse not only the brain-regressed, but the children as well.
One might have thought that such a bizarre dystopic fantasy, and so it seemed back in the relatively halcyonic neon days of the Eighties, would never come to pass, but ponder what we now have: The mind-numbing conforming effects of modern university; the definitely non-PG-rated drag-queen story times, with groomed children lying a-top twerking transvestites; a presidential candidate ushering a nine-year old boy on stage to announce he is ‘gay’ – whatever that might mean, for surely odd little ‘Mayor Pete’ could not be insinuating that such a moppet would engage, actively or passively, in the actus contra naturam, which is essentially what defines homosexuality. And the old, the sick, the maimed and infirm who arrive at hospitals may expect no longer to be healed or at least comforted, but shuffled along into that gentle good night, by hooks and by crooks.
Percy was onto something when he saw a deep and devilish connection between disordered sex and the desire for death. The Thanatos syndrome seems to have dawned upon us, almost unawares.
I might offer for now our neighbours south of the border an update on the disintegration of our once-great dominion of the north, for what Americans are fighting for in many of their states – the rule of law and the right to life – we Canadians have more or less cast off into the outer darkness and the land of Nod.
You may recall that back in June of 2016, MAiD was made the law of the land – the acronymic euphemism of ‘medical assistance in dying’. Canada became one of the few countries in the world to federally legalize murder by physicians. Of course, this prescinds from pre-born murder, legal since Pierre Elliot Trudeau, our current Prime Minister’s dear old deceased dad, legalized that back in 1969. (Intriguingly, it was on May 14th, the feast of Saint Matthias, who replaced Judas). When that abortion law was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1988 at the impetus of the ghastly gadfly and illegal abortionist Henry Morgentaler – citing its burden of requiring a panel of three doctors an undue burden – Parliament has ever since refused to write another. So Canada is currently one of only four nations without any law governing abortion, the other three being China, North Korea and Vietnam, all atheistic communist dictatorships – take that for what you will – in whose regimes children may be killed for any reason whatsoever right up to the moment of birth.
MAiD now extends the culture of death, by allowing physicians – and in some subtle way coercing them, at least in a cooperative sense – to murder full grown adults who are suffering from ‘intolerable pain’, a vague and even oxymoronic concept. After all, if God sends us suffering, it is by definition ‘tolerable’. And palliative care has come a long way in managing pain levels.
If, however, one believes that all suffering is ‘useless’, at least in a spiritual sense – and so we see it in animals, whom we quite rightly ‘put out of their misery’ – then we will treat humans like animals. I wrote previously in these pages that without a transcendent vision of man, and a consequent salvific purpose to suffering – the very theme and title of John Paul II’s 1984 letter Salvifici Doloris – then the natural option will be euthanasia, literally a ‘good’ death, or at least a quick and painless one, whatever fate one meets on the other side.
The problem, of course, is that human beings are not just natural creatures, but supernatural, made in God’s image, and called to live in His grace, before finally seeing Him in glory. Yet we are also sinful, and although all suffering is in some way a punishment for sin, with which, as the Holy Father writes, it always has some sort of connection, it is far more than that. For all of our aches, pains, anxieties and ills, are also a paradoxical remedy and atonement for sin, as we participate in the fully salvific sufferings of Christ.
As Trudeau père opened the floodgates to the killing of the unborn, so now Trudeau fils has just shoved them nearly wide open, to death-on-demand for all and sundry, whenever one may tire of this life. Two witnesses are needed, but one of them may be the murderer. Advanced directives are also now permitted – decreeing one’s own murder-suicide months or years before. Even if they signify their mind has changed and they resist, such patient-victims may still be put down by force, if their arm-flailing and struggling are deemed ‘involuntary’. Same-day express euthanasia is on also the table for the ‘terminally ill’, and a 90-day waiting period for everyone else. But the latter condition will likely soon be struck down as discriminatory, as will the prohibition for the killing off of minors, for whatever reason they, or their hormones, might express.
We may argue all day about the slippery slope of macabre mayhem to which this will lead, but the problem, as with all aspects of the culture of death, is a deeper one: A loss of an eternal and transcendent purpose to life, along with a rejection of the providence of God, Who alone is master of life and death. We have made ourselves novo-Prometheans, ‘like unto gods’, deciding when and how we live and die – and not just ‘we’, but it will be, and already is in secret, decreed for others, whose quality of life is deemed insufficient and whose suffering clearly ‘intolerable’ by panels of bland bureaucrats. In Britain, abortion, currently restricted to 24 weeks, is now permitted right up until birth, if the child has Down’s syndrome. After all, why would such happy people want to live, and who would want them?
The charnel house – with injections and whitewashed walls, instead of gas chambers and crematoria – is not much further down the road. As Chesterton predicted, the neo-barbarians will not be like the old. They will be wearing labcoats and stethoscopes and speaking softly, but barbarians just the same, and all the more insidious for the illusory façade of compassion.
We serve either God, or Satan, a liar and murderer from the beginning; there is no middle ground, but a wide chasm, and we will reap what we have sown, the fruits of life, or of death.
In one sense, we’re all ultimately pro-choice, and the choice is ours to make.