I’ve been following and learning from a number of radical grassroots indigenous activists for quite a while now. I don’t remember when I encountered the first, who has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to me since our first contact on Facebook. But before long, I was getting to know a bunch of people who are proud of their indigineity, the lands their ancestors taught them to protect as though it were their next of kin, and all the life depending on that land — including people like me, by which I mean not related by blood to the First Peoples, and always learning new things about indigenous cultures. So when news of the pipelines and FIPPA deals the Harper government wanted to bury under the streams, rivers, lakes, and homes of many of the blood kin of my indigenous friends first broke, I found out about it through them. Not from the news. Then a whole lot of Occupy Vancouver activists (most of whom are white and apparently haven’t the foggiest clue beyond a very superficial understanding, of exactly what they are actually saying when they declare “unceded Coast Salish territory” at the beginning of their speeches) started their predictable and ambitious surge of hippy speak, wheat-pasting, vegan food, flyers, and public musical jam sessions, to try and raise awareness of the pipelines. Finally, it started to appear in the news, in between reports of Trayvon Martin being murdered while George Zimmerman was allowed to keep all his Nazi regalia company in the privacy of his own home for weeks, Shaima Alawadi’s murder being pegged at first as a hate crime until it was determined she was killed by her husband, and Bei Bei Shuai being sentenced to prison after her late-term pregnancy was interrupted by a suicide attempt (the baby was delivered and died a week later). But the Occupy activists just kept on truckin’ through all this extraordinarily depressing news that mysteriously never seems to be about white people getting put in prison, or even worse, in a coffin.
Category: cultural tolerance
39 Idle No More: Deep Green Resistance Has Red Roots
14 We’ll tread that fine line…
I hope nobody mistakes my approach to racism and cultural tolerance as ‘the right way’. People a lot more well-versed than I am in the vagaries of anthropology, history, sociology, and psychology (just to name a few relevant fields that I am utterly clueless in) have time and again failed to find the surefire path forward to diplomacy and harmony. I can barely sweet-talk women at the bar. If there is a ‘right way’, and I don’t believe that there is one, I’m an unlikely candidate to be the one who comes across it.
That being said, I know that some methods are better than others. There may be few things that we know to be surefire correct, but there are a hell of a lot that we know to be just plain wrong. There are, like logical fallacies or lousy apologetics arguments or privileged whines, arguments that are uttered pre-refuted. We know colour blindness doesn’t work, we know that ‘reverse discrimination’ isn’t what people say it is, we know that dividing the world into ‘racists’ and ‘non-racists’ is a house built on the sand of bad psychology. We can dispose of these arguments just like we can the “well then why are there still monkeys” ‘proof’ that evolution is a liberal conspiracy from the Muslim atheist devil.
Some situations, however, are quite a bit more tricky: … Continue Reading
24 Islam is dangerous
The extent to which I object to any religious belief is more or less commensurate with the level to which it informs one’s daily life. If you privately believe that the universe is 20 minutes away from being devoured in a ball of flame, but you still do a good job filing my tax returns, it’s really not my place to get all hot and bothered by your delusion. This isn’t to say that, if given the opportunity, I won’t say something about how ridiculous your beliefs are. After all, the truth is important. However, it simply doesn’t interest me to put my shoulders into exposing the irrationality of your particular faith. After all, provided you make no (or comparatively few) life decisions based on it, it’s a bit arch of me to go after it.
Islam, at least insofar as I understand it (and have seen it practiced) is one of those faiths wherein daily observance and connection to day-to-day life is much more persistent. Christianity, by comparison, has fewer daily rituals and practices that mark someone as “a Christian”. There is no dress code, there are no dietary restrictions, few necessary public observances. It is far easier to be a “stealth Christian” than it is to be a “stealth Muslim”. Couple that with daily prayers and the phrase “inshallah” (which one of the guys I work with uses – to be sure, one branch of my family doesn’t talk about the future without saying “God willing”, so that kind of obeisance is not exclusively Muslim), and you get a religion that is very much a ‘live in’ one.
Perhaps the most visible signifier of Muslim belief is the head covering that many Muslim women wear (either by choice or by coercion). I’ve known sisters, both who would describe themselves as ‘observant’ – one wore the head scarf, the other did not. It was very much a choice for them, and I have no quarrel with that. The only thing that weirds me out about the whole practice is the fact that it is an open, visible sign to everyone around you that you subscribe to the belief that women ought to cover their hair for ‘modesty’ purposes. I would be, I imagine, similarly put off by a Catholic woman who wore a wimple or a Hindu woman displaying a bindi (although the bindi is often cosmetic rather than religious).
But one cannot escape the fact that, at least here in North America, there is a lot of danger associated with women who wear hijabs. Danger to the women themselves, at least: … Continue Reading
4 Warm fuzzy religious tolerance
The great religious traditions of the world do not agree on much. They certainly don’t agree on the name, number, type, or behaviour of their various gods. They don’t agree on what happens after you die, what you’re supposed to do while you’re alive, and when life even starts. They disagree about how, what, and when you should eat, pray, and fuck. Even groups that are titularly similar – i.e., different sects of the same religion – have disagreements over how to properly interpret the same passages in their holy books. Basically, there’s a notable absence of convergence when it comes to religion as a method of learning about the supernatural.
One thing they can agree on, however, is the fact that the rising tide of secularism is the greatest threat to mankind. We are repeatedly exhorted to stand up for religious traditions in the face of the threat of atheist extremists pushing religious life to the margins of society. Of course it’s a secret agenda – they wouldn’t dare come for our bibles with guns drawn – the backlash would be unbelievable. No instead they do it by the trickiest mechanism possible – forcing everyone to play by the same rules: … Continue Reading
26 Walking on the gayest eggshells possible
One concept that we don’t discuss much in the “Western” world (a label that I find completely inaccurate and useless) is that of colonialism. Since Canada’s political structure and demographics are made up overwhelmingly of the descendants of European immigrants, we have much less of a post-colonial headache than South American and African countries (and indeed, many Asian countries as well). The United States points repeatedly to its birth as rebellion from its colonial masters, allowing it to throw off the weight of post-colonial detritus. The European countries are the ones who did the colonizing, so their relationship with the subject is quite different. The result of this confluence of historical and political/economic factors is that the only people who really discuss colonialism are members of minority groups.
We’re going to need to understand the issue a lot better:
The UK is showing a “bullying mentality” by threatening to cut aid to countries where homosexuality is illegal, a Ugandan official says. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said at the weekend that those receiving British aid should respect gay rights. But Ugandan presidential adviser John Nagenda told the BBC Ugandans were “tired of these lectures” and should not be treated like “children”.
The issue at discussion here is the proposal to withdraw foreign aid from countries that refuse to recognize universal human rights for homosexual people. The move is lauded by gay rights groups who say that it is hypocritical of countries like the UK to talk about promoting human rights, but to provide aid to regimes that criminalize homosexuality. It is derided, on the other hand, by African leaders who see it as an attempt to force “Western” moral standards on the rest of the world. Uganda is one of the worst offenders, to be sure, but they’re not alone:
Ghana’s President John Atta Mills has rejected the UK’s threat to cut aid if he refuses to legalise homosexuality. Mr Atta Mills said the UK could not impose its values on Ghana and he would never legalise homosexuality. (snip)
Mr Atta Mills said Mr Cameron was entitled to his views, but he did not have the right to “direct to other sovereign nations as to what they should do”. He said Ghana’s “societal norms” were different from those in the UK. “I, as president, will never initiate or support any attempt to legalise homosexuality in Ghana,” Mr Atta Mills said.
Because I think it’s important to understand the different perspectives at play here, and because I don’t think the answer to this problem is cut and dry, I will borrow a device from one of my fellow FTBorgs and present this discussion as a dialogue between Mary Washburn from Essex, England and Jason Ngeze from Kampala, Uganda. … Continue Reading
1 Perhaps a more attractive droid?
There is a particular paradox with my post this morning that I didn’t really go out of my way to point out. That paradox has to do with finding a case that we (as free speech advocates) can sell to the public as an argument for unrestricted free speech rights. Its self-contradictory nature comes from the fact that in a liberal society that respects the rule of law, there aren’t a lot of examples of unpopular speech that the public can really get behind. The most common form of unpopular speech is based in hatred and intolerance, and you can’t really rally too many people behind that message.
But perhaps, with a bit of work, we can convince people of the merit in this:
A Dutch court acquitted right-wing politician Geert Wilders of hate speech and discrimination Thursday, ruling that his anti-Islam statements, while offensive to many Muslims, fell within the bounds of legitimate political debate. Judge Marcel van Oosten said Wilders’s claims that Islam is violent by nature, and his calls to halt Muslim immigration and ban the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, must be seen in a wider context of debate over immigration policy. The Amsterdam court said his public statement could not be directly linked to increased discrimination against Dutch Muslims.
I will do myself the favour of stating unequivocally that I don’t like Geert Wilders, and will explain briefly why that is.
I do not buy the argument that the forces of Islamism are plotting a gradual takeover of Western society. It’s a fear-driven conspiracy theory carefully stoked in the xenophobic parts that inhabit all of us. It is convenient to our story-telling brains to dichotomize world events into “forces of good” and “forces of evil”. Hell, even I’m guilty of it (kind of… I trust my readers are aware of the sarcastic irony behind my categorization).
The reality is more like a variety of several ideologies, each competing for finite political real estate. The Islamist ideology is indeed fighting for supremacy, but not at the expense of Christianity. Islamism isn’t trying to “take over” any more than communism is trying to “take over” – all ideologies are fighting for dominance. This is where Wilders is wrong – he contrasts Islamic domination with Christian domination, when neither of these ideologies is truly dominant. While modern-day Europe owes a great deal to traditions laid down under true Christian ideological domination, most of the freedoms we enjoy today were despite Christian dominance (or rather, in the face of it) rather than because of it.
That being said, the world would be a much better place under the current situation of formerly-Christian secularism rather than an Islamic theocracy. Islam is, as written, much more hostile to the idea of religious pluralism than Christianity – I am happy to grant that. But the fight is not between an Islamic state and a Christian one – it’s between an absolutist state and a pluralistic one. Christian theocracy frightens me just as much as Islamic theocracy. Insofar as Wilders opposes an absolutist state, I am 100% with him. Where he and I differ has to do with his inability to divorce the ideas of Islam and absolutism. The two concepts are overlapping, but only mildly more so than are Christianity and absolutism.
Now, that covers basically where my position differs from Wilders’. The purpose of this post is to point out that what he said was a critique of an ideology, not the people who hold it. Mr. Wilders has gone out of his way several times to make this distinction – it is the religion of Islam he is criticizing as barbaric and dangerous. To the extent that individuals belonging to a religious group follow its strictures to varying degrees (and each insisting that theirs is the ‘true’ way), individual Muslims may or may not represent threats to secular society, just as individual liberals may or not represent threats to capitalism, for example. The courts have ruled precisely along these lines – criticism of ideas does not constitute hate speech, even if those ideas are religious or belong to a minority group.
It is precisely because this case lies on the balance of opposing concerns – distrust of religious extremism and distaste for intolerance – that it can be such a useful case to bring the free speech argument into the public sphere. You don’t have to like Geert Wilders to recognize that categorizing criticism of fanaticism as “hate speech” has very dangerous consequences that will do more to undermine secular society than all the forces of Islamism ever could.
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1 Canada DOESN’T have a race problem… grading on a curve
I make a lot of hay on this blog by pointing out negative things in Canada, the country I love. As a blog about race and racism (with some gay shit sprinkled in there for flavour), I go out of my way to find, illustrate and criticize things that happen here that are to the detriment of minority groups. Reading my writings here, some may walk away with the impression that I think that Canada is a particularly bad place to be a person of colour (PoC), a gay person, a woman, or member of another disadvantaged group. This is simply not true.
Part of the reason I am so passionate about Canada and the issues facing Canadians is because I recognize that our country has the overwhelming potential to model positive values to the entire world. Perhaps uniquely, Canada is making the experiment of multiculturalism work and has found a way to maintain a level of civility and understanding that transcends any kind of formal legal protection, but that has simply become a feature of our national identity. How could I approach such an important issue with anything less than my full attention and fervor?
However, all the doom and gloom that I cast around may serve to distract from the fact that Canada is a really amazing country:
Canadians are hard-working, great readers, the most tolerant people in the developed world, and enjoy more “positive experiences” than everyone but Icelanders, according to a new analysis of social trends released here Tuesday. “At 84 per cent on average, Canadians report the highest community tolerance of minority groups — ethnic minorities, migrants, and gays and lesbians — in the OECD, where the average is 61 per cent,” the report said. Residents of the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and the Nordic countries were among the most tolerant, while those in southern and eastern Europe, as well as Japan and Korea, were less tolerant.
This is something to celebrate – among countries in the developed world, Canada still stands out as a place where minority groups are, by and large, respected and tolerated. The kinds of racial strife and discord that seem to run rampant in many developing countries (particularly those in the Middle East and Africa) are completely foreign to us, and aren’t likely to degenerate to Rwanda or Bosnia levels ever. We should be happy about this.
However, and I cannot stress this enough, we should not be satisfied. It’s wonderful that we’re at the top of the OECD, but racial and cultural tolerance are not a competition. We are not trying to win the “world’s nicest people” award, at least we shouldn’t be. And while accolades are nice, it is dangerous to judge our successes by the failures of others – downward comparisons are a bitch.
While we are doing very well, we can still do better. By highlighting and discussing the issues that I do, I am trying my best to keep these conversations from getting swept under the rug of complacency. There are many areas to improve, and by doing so we can show the rest of the world how they can make the same improvements.
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3 The ongoing battle for cultural accommodation loses two skirmishes
Regular readers may recall last month’s discussion over the kirpan, a piece of Sikh religious iconography that has been the subject of recent debate in the Quebec legislature:
While it would be a complete failure on our part to refuse to recognize the impact on the Sikh community (as a manifestation of privilege) of such a ban, we also must respect the fact that Canada is a secular nation, meaning that religious symbols are not to be given any kind of legal standing.
Finding equally compelling arguments on both sides of the issue, I was forced to swallow the bitter pill of compromise and suggest that a reasonable accommodation would be to allow kirpans that could not be used as weapons – either because they were locked or because they were too small (some are worn like lockets around the neck and are less than an inch long). I dislike advocating compromise, because it is usually a sign that both sides have given up trying to convince the other and are trying to get out of the room in time for lunch. In this case, I found myself stuck between two secular principles and unable to arbitrarily pick a side.
It seems that the Quebec legislature suffers from no such quandary:
Quebec’s governing Liberals voted in favour of an opposition motion to ban ceremonial daggers from the provincial legislature. The Parti Québécois tabled its motion Wednesday — requesting the government prevent Sikhs from carrying their ceremonial daggers into the national assembly building — and the legislature voted unanimously in favour.
The Opposition PQ was more strident and applauded the building’s security details, while stressing the party’s view that multiculturalism is a Canadian but not a Quebec value. PQ MNA Louise Beaudoin urged Sikhs to make a “little bit of an effort” and demanded the Liberal government clarify its position on religious objects in the legislature.
It’s nice to see that despite our differences, lawmakers can all agree that there is no room for accommodation of any of those weird foreign practices. Certainly no middle ground to be found between respecting individual freedoms and the secular nature of the state – that would be ridiculous.
Sikhs, predictably, are unhappy with the ruling:
The World Sikh Organization of Canada is disappointed with the Quebec national assembly’s decision to ban Sikhs from wearing a kirpan in the legislature. Arguing that multiculturalism is under threat, Canadian Sikhs pointed out that the Supreme Court of Canada decided in 2006 that the ceremonial dagger, traditionally worn underneath the clothing, is an article of faith — not a weapon.
While I sympathize with their feelings on this issue, I can’t help but roll my eyes whenever someone tries to claim that the kirpan isn’t a weapon. It is true that the religious dictates requiring Sikhs to wear kirpans do not require them to be viable as weapons, but to say that the kirpan isn’t designed with that purpose in mind is willful ignorance masquerading as tolerance. The question is whether or not the religious belief surrounding the weapon allows it to be exempted, under the assumption that nobody will ever use it for violence. That would be a stupid decision made for a stupid reason.
There have been accusations of racism/xenophobia that accompany this decision, and for the most part I tend to agree. There have been exactly zero incidents of someone being attacked in the Quebec legislature by a kirpan, so passing a law that bans them isn’t motivated by self-preservation so much as the wish to make a statement that people who look and behave different must fall in line. Again, I think a reasonable accommodation could have been made here, and failing to pursue that (with a unanimous decision it’s hard to argue otherwise) is strongly suggestive to me of a pervasive attitude that precludes the idea of accommodation.
This issue of religious behaviour functioning in secular society may become the defining issue of our discourse in the next little while. With the Supreme Court wrangling over the constitutionality of bans on polygamy, the Ontario provincial court grappling with veils on testifying witnesses, and now the kirpan issue, can we throw one more log on the fire?
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says a private members bill that would force people to show their faces when they vote is “reasonable.” A Quebec Conservative backbencher, Steven Blaney, rekindled the debate over veiled voters on Friday with the tabling of a bill that critics decry as an attempt to divide the electorate.
It is tempting to try and weigh the merits of this kind of issue and try to figure out if it is indeed reasonable. I would argue that asking someone to identify themselves in order to vote is very reasonable, and if that cannot be done by means of facial identification and there is no other alternative, requiring someone to show their face is perfectly fine. However, such a view of this issue ignores the real purpose – this is simply an attempt to find wedge issues in anticipation of an upcoming election. Unless there is a suspicion that voter fraud is happening at such a level that national-level legislation needs to be enacted, then this is simply an argument for argument’s sake. It’s a typical tactic of the Harper government that is about as transparent as it is utterly meaningless.
However, there is a larger point to be gleaned in all of this. Canada has to decide how it wants to define itself – as a rigidly secular nation where immigrants have to learn to adopt our customs, or as a place where accommodations are made as often as possible to ensure that everyone feels welcome. Both of these approaches have their merits, but I’m more optimistic about the second one working out as a long-term strategy.
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6 Another case study of cultural tolerance
This morning I explored the stupid side of one of my pet topics, the idea of cultural tolerance. Basically, the argument goes that since we have a variety of cultures all calling this great country of ours “home”, we are called to make reasonable accommodations for different cultural practices. The important word in that last sentence is reasonable. Moving the location of a health care facility because some people are scared little babies about death is not a reasonable accommodation. To the contrary – it flies in the face of reason.
However, this case perhaps bears a bit less contempt and a bit more thoughtful reflection:
An emotionally charged debate over multiculturalism that has raged in Quebec in recent years has landed on the national stage and it centres on a ceremonial dagger worn by Sikhs. MPs face a demand to ban the kirpan, which is worn at all times by at least one Ontario MP. The discussion is being spurred by the Bloc Québécois, which promised Wednesday to take up the issue with the House of Commons’ all-party decision-making body.
Setting aside the obvious fact that this a political move that is motivated primarily by the cultural equivalent of racism (when’s the last time someone in the legislature was attacked with a kirpan?), there are actually two perfectly reasonable arguments on both sides of this issue.
Against the measure: A reasonable accommodation can be made to allow MPs to wear religious items without interfering with the good order and work of the parliament
As I noted above, there have never been any attacks within parliament by a kirpan (or any other weapon). Banning people from wearing a kirpan is not a reaction to an incident of violence, nor is it a pre-emptive attempt to fight a trend of imminent violence. It is simply making an arbitrary rule that has the effect of saying that certain people are not welcome to run for office. For Sikhs who take their religion seriously, the kirpan is a mandatory accoutrement that must be worn at all times. It has the same religious force of compulsion as the burqua or similar head-coverings for conservative Jews.
Given that there is a compelling reason (at the individual level) for wearing a kirpan, and very little is accomplished by banning it (aside from broadcasting xenophobia), a strong case can be made that the measure should not be adopted.
For the measure: The accommodation to allow people to bring a weapon into the legislature is not reasonable
I’ve made this exact argument before (way in the distant past, likely before any of you now reading the blog were around):
In my mind, allowing anyone to carry a weapon of any kind is not a good idea. I don’t care how symbolic or ceremonial it it supposed to be. If my religious convictions require me to carry a rifle in my hands because Jesus could arrive at any moment and I have to help him fight off Satan’s zombie hordes, common sense (and the law) would dictate that the danger I pose to society in general outweighs my religious autonomy. Such is the case here.
The kirpan is not worn to commemorate a battle or to symbolize some kind of pillar of Sikh faith. It is explicitly a defensive weapon that is worn by Sikhs in case they have to prevent some act of evil from taking place. The same argument could be made for a non-religious knife, or a gun, or any other type of weapon. Given that we do not permit MPs (or anyone) to take a weapon into a government building unless they are a member of the security staff, making a special concession for this weapon because it is wrapped up in religious superstition is not a reasonable accommodation, despite whatever nonsense Michael Ignatieff says:
“The kirpan is not a weapon,” Ignatieff told reporters in Montreal. “It’s a religious symbol and we have to respect it.” When asked about the issue Thursday, Ignatieff said that it should be treated as a question of religious freedom rather than simply a security matter.
We have to respect it? With all due respect to your position, Mr. Ignatieff, we don’t have to respect religious symbols. We have to respect a person’s right to believe in their particular religious symbol, but we are under no consequent obligation to respect the symbol ourselves. Considering that the symbol itself, when divorced from its symbolism, is in fact a knife, it is entirely reasonable to ask why it should be allowed inside the legislature (or anywhere else, for that matter).
While I hate compromise (I really do… it usually means that both sides are giving up), I think one is appropriate in this case. While it would be a complete failure on our part to refuse to recognize the impact on the Sikh community (as a manifestation of privilege) of such a ban, we also must respect the fact that Canada is a secular nation, meaning that religious symbols are not to be given any kind of legal standing. The problem with the kirpan is not the kirpan itself – it is its potential to be used as a weapon. Kirpans can be purchased with locks, or made such that they cannot be drawn from their sheath. Passing a resolution that allows the kirpan to be worn but stripping it of its function as a knife is entirely possible, and involves a reasonable accommodation from both sides.
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P.S. Interestingly, as I was writing this piece, I found myself saying “this is absolutely my position” for both sides of the argument. I’m always interested to hear your opinions (even in those cases when I don’t post a reply), but I am particularly curious to know if you were swayed one way or the other on this issue.
6 “Cultural Sensitivity” meets clear stupidity
It’s been a while since I talked about one of my first pet topics, the burqa bans going on in various places in the world. The point I laboured to make in those early articles was that there may be some specific circumstances under which it is better for society to brook some contravention of its rules in the name of being tolerant of practices imported from other cultures. This is particularly true of Canada, with its wide variety of cultural groups. If we want Canada to remain a place where groups from all over the world can feel at home, then we have to occasionally put aside our discomfiture toward “the other”.
But other times, “the other” is stupid and there needn’t be any accommodation:
Plans for a hospice on the University of British Columbia campus have been put on hold after some neighbourhood residents said the proposed facility offended their cultural sensitivities around death and dying.
“It is all about cultural sensitivity,” said Ms. Fan, a Chinese-born immigrant who lives in a high-rise near the proposed hospice site. “We came here as new immigrants with our own belief system. And in our beliefs, it is impossible for us to have dying people in our backyard.”
The main gist of this argument is that many Chinese-born immigrants share a cultural taboo about death, feeling that it brings bad luck and will spoil marriages and businesses and all sorts of other pursuits. Building a hospice in a neighbourhood with many immigrants from this area lacks cultural sensitivity for such beliefs.
My response: fuck your superstition.
This proposed building is on the campus of the University of British Columbia. UBC has a right to build whatever legal structure they like on their grounds. UBC also has a hospital on its grounds. News flash: people die in hospitals every day. People also die in car accidents, stabbings, from heart attacks… the list goes on ad infinitum. Death is a part of life – in fact, death is the thing that makes life precious. If your beliefs are in conflict with biological fact, it is not the responsibility of the rest of the world to move in line with your beliefs; it’s your responsibility to figure out a way to deal with it.
I feel passionately about this issue, as someone who works in cancer research. The majority of people who pursue hospice care suffer from terminal cancer. At the end of the course of this disease, patients are often in near-constant pain that gets limited (or no) relief through the use of drugs and radiation. The idea behind hospice care is to allow the dying person to maintain a bit of dignity and comfort. It is the sign of a compassionate and caring people when the sick and dying are cared for. Adequate hospice care means that people are not languishing in long-term care facilities, at home, or worst of all in a hospital, unable to access sufficient relief from their symptoms as their bodies shut down.
A very good friend of mine worked in a hospice on a co-op term. She would be able to speak much more eloquently and passionately than I can about what a great job hospice care does of improving the quality of life of people who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to die there. I say ‘lucky’ in full awareness of the fact that it’s not exactly ‘lucky’ to get cancer, but since there are far fewer spaces than there is demand for those spaces, getting in is indeed a stroke of luck.
I hope nobody would accuse me of being a person who is not sensitive to the fact that not everyone sees the world the same way. I am aware that different groups have different ideas about life, and that some issues hit people more viscerally than others. However, in this case we’re talking about conflating superstition with the real suffering of real people. The proximity of death has zero effect on whether or not your business is lucky – the flourishing funeral home business is perhaps a counter-example. People who work in hospitals around dying people can maintain happy relationships, and in some cases the death of a close family member can bring people closer together. To suggest that dying people should put relief of their suffering on hold because you’re afraid of the dark is the height of childish arrogance.
We should make our decisions based on what is real, not what spares the delicate feelings of stupid people.
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