Saturday, July 25, 2009
Dignitas: A death camp for air-conditioned lives
Oh, didn't I tell you? I won't be updating again until I feel there has been a satisfactory response to this posting. No one tells Madame Arcati what to write about. So, go read some boring newspaper atheist blog, penned by an editor-approved dollop, if you want your prejudices echoed.
One of the great priests of modern voguish atheism is Arthur Schopenhauer, the so-called "philosopher of pessimism" who viewed life as meaningless and the universe as godless. When, say, Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens lecture us that religions (and not money, greed, nationalism, etc) cause wars, they are parroting Schopenhauer, and they in turn are parroted by the tots who write for a whole range of serious publications, literary, intellectual, whatever.
One organisation that heartily endorses Schopenhauer's worldview is Dignitas, the assisted suicide death camp based in Switzerland. While I am not religious myself (in the sense I do not belong to any faith) I am struck by how the humanist/atheist agenda invariably veers towards the joy of death and how to make it part of one's orderly schedule.
The problem identified by Dignitas is the human will to live: if only people could be made to feel that there's no earthly reason why they should feel obliged to stay alive when times are hard, they could make it better - by killing themselves. Religious faith just encourages people to stay stubbornly alive against adversity, distressing loved ones in the process and clogging up hospitals. Whether in fact religion is relevant to this debate is neither here nor there: Dignitas has decreed that it is. Dignitas isn't just a death camp. It's also a proponent of the atheist cause.
Back in 2006, Ludwig A Minelli of Dignitas gave a talk at the Liberal Democratic Party congress in Brighton. He painted a pretty picture of a future of assisted suicides which would... "save a lot of money in the public health system." He went on: "We have to avoid the heavy consequences of century-long indoctrination with religious dogmas." He then quoted Schopenhauer favourably: "The power of religious dogma, when inculcated early, is such as to stifle conscience, compassion, and finally every feeling of humanity." The English are jeered at for "their stupid ecclesiastical superstition."
The point to all this is to be aware of how robustly and proactively an organisation like Dignitas advances its cause. It's not just offering a death service. It is out there drumming up business. It is doing so by ventilating a hostile, baseless view of faith - that it is at the root of all evil. Faith stifles compassion or conscience? You have only to open a history book at random to see what else might stifle our humanity.