The Whiteoak Brothers is, in order of publication, the thirteenth in Mazo de la Roche’s series of novels chronicling the lives of the Whiteoak family of Jalna manor in rural Ontario. Set in the year 1923 it is the sixth in the series by order of internal chronology. In the sixteenth chapter of the novel, Wakefield Whiteoak, the youngest of the family’s third generation, is placed under the tutorage of the Reverend Mr. Fennell, the rector of the Anglican parish church that had been built by his grandfather Captain Whiteoak. He was unable to attend regular classes due to a diagnosis of a weak heart and had previously been taught by his older sister Meg, who now found him too much of a handful. In their first session with the vicar they discuss Wakefield’s grandmother, who is approaching her centennial, causing the rector to speculate:
“If you live to her age, I wonder what sort of world this will be. The year 2013—hm.”
We, of course, do not need to engage in such speculation as we are now living in the second year beyond the annum specified. I suspect that if a vision of the present day had been given to a clergyman ninety years ago he would have been horrified at what he saw. A great many changes have occurred since 1923 and, indeed, since 1953, the year the words quoted above saw print for the first time. They have almost all been for the worse, but that goes without saying as the vast majority of all change – a good 99.99% at least – is always for the worse.
Some of these changes have been specific to Canada, rendering our country virtually unrecognizable as the same Dominion in which the Jalna saga is set, and in which de la Roche, who died in 1961, lived all her life. We are coming up close, for example, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Pearson Liberals’ changing of our national flag from the Canadian Red Ensign to the Maple Leaf, which, despite Allan Levine’s recent remarks to the contrary in the opinion pages of the Winnipeg Free Press, was an attack on our country’s British heritage, and a slap in the face of all the Canadian veterans who fought under the Red Ensign in our country’s finest moment when we stood with Britain against the Axis powers from the beginning of the Second World War.
Other changes, however, have been part of a wave of change that has swept Western civilization as a whole. There are many factors that contributed to bringing about this wave of change. One of these was the drawing to an end of the Modern Age, itself brought about by the triumph of liberalism, the moving and energizing spirit of the Modern Age, which had more or less completed all of its original goals by the middle of the twentieth century (and had also seen its claims to be able to provide a better and brighter future for man aptly refuted and debunked by the two World Wars, the rise of a whole new scale of tyranny made possible by modernity in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and the invention of the atomic bomb). Another factor was cultural Marxism, i.e., the infiltration and takeover of the political, social, academic, cultural, and other institutions of Western civilization by those who were intent upon redirecting these institutions towards the subversion of the civilization and ordered societies they comprise.
This wave of change has not yet ebbed out or shown any indication that it will do so within the foreseeable future. Instead, it has swept away yet another remnant of what used to be our civilization, as the Supreme Court of Canada, yesterday, in a unanimous decision, struck down the law against assisted suicide. Their ruling, in a case brought before them by the BC Civil Liberties Association, was that the law violated the worthless appendage to our constitution that Pierre Trudeau tacked on when he had it repatriated in 1982. Last year, Steven Fletcher, the MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia here in Winnipeg had introduced bills that would have legalized assisted suicide in certain circumstances. It is expected that Parliament will pass new laws to replace the ones struck down. If the present government’s track record is anything to go by I would not anticipate any improvement. In December of 2013 the Supreme Court struck down our laws against prostitution and the present government replaced them with a horrible new unjust law based on a bill passed by the rabidly egalitarian, socialist, and feminist government of Sweden in 1999.
There is a great deal of muddled thinking about assisted suicide today. Suicide means the deliberate taking of positive action towards ending one’s life. The person who knowingly ingests cyanide is committing suicide, the person who refuses treatment that will prolong his life, is not. It needs to be clear that to prohibit assisted suicide does not mean that people should be forced to go on life support, to take chemotherapy, or undergo any other potentially life-extending treatment. The question of assisted suicide is not even a question of whether a person has the right to take his own life or not, although the assertion that he does ought be challenged because it is itself a manifestation of an idea that is far too uncritically accepted today, namely the autonomy of the individual and his absolute right to do whatever he wills provided that others are not adversely affected It is a question of whether he has the right to involve other people in the deliberate termination of his life. This is a question to which the answer ought to be a resounding no. Of course nobody should have the right to place the burden of terminating his life on another person’s shoulders.
Allowing assisted suicide is the first step down a slippery slope. The next step is allowing doctors to decide to terminate the lives of people who cannot make the decision to terminate their lives for themselves. Make no mistake – this next step will follow the first one. For decades now, the kind of people who have been making radical changes have been pooh-poohing everyone who has warned about a slippery slope, and each time we ended up sliding down that slope. The justices of the Supreme Court of Canada must be frothing-at-the-mouth mad to think it wise or right to start the ball rolling on giving physicians, a notoriously arrogant class of people who have great difficulty with differentiating or distinguishing between themselves and God, the power of life and death. Apart from the matter of their inflated egos, physicians are required to swear a solemn oath that includes a pledge to do no harm. Terminating someone’s life is the ultimate in harmdoing. The physician willing to assist in suicide, therefore, is an oathbreaker, and hence somebody who should not be trusted, and certainly not trusted with power over whether people live or die.
Years ago, the television cartoon The Simpsons ran an episode in which Homer Simpson was put in a coma by an exploding beer can in an April Fool’s joke gone wrong. Mr. Burns, complaining of the hospital bills his company’s insurance was having to cover, brought in Dr. Nick Riviera who looked at Homer and concluded “Oh dear, I can find no signs of life. Just to be safe, we’d better pull the plug”. At the time this was brilliant satire. Now, thanks to our satire-killing Supreme Court, it seems more like a dark foreshadowing of things to come.
It would be nice to think that those who we send to Parliament to write Her Majesty’s laws for us will find away of rescuing us from the goofy decision by the clowns on the bench to allow the medical profession to decide whether we live or die. I wouldn’t wager a plugged nickel on that happening, though. I’m afraid things are only going to progress from here in the more honest meaning of the word progress, i.e., get worse.
A Protestant Christian, patriotic Canadian, and a reactionary High Tory with a libertarian streak, at the same time a monarchist, indeed a royal absolutist, and a minarchist.
You can e-mail me at gerrytneal(at)hotmail(dot)ca