Readers write: September 26, 2016 issue

September 21, 2016 | Viewpoints | Volume 20 Issue 19

Braun criticized for using ‘the language of euthanasia proponents’

Re: “The right to die and the art of suffering,” Aug. 15, page 20.

I deeply sympathize with author Will Braun in the loss of his friend to suicide, and I appreciate his recognition of the need to include community in addressing the euthanasia issue. However, his treatment of this topic, which follows mainstream media patterns, suggests that he supports autonomy more than community.

He uses only one example of someone dealing with this issue personally: Rod Reynar. The other two perspectives are those with second-hand experiences. He fails to balance these views with the first-hand experiences of those who have faced coercion to accept a hastened death. The only opponents cited are Margaret Somerville and Jason Reimer Greig, quotes buried deep in the article. Prominent placements favour those either supporting euthanasia or claiming to reserve judgment.

He uses the language of euthanasia proponents: sanitizing euphemisms such as “medically assisted dying,” not “medically hastened death,” or Somerville’s term, “medically inflicted death.” In my experience, Somerville’s term is closer to the truth. The word “suffering” appears throughout, even in the headline, but is not defined. In our society, this word is used indiscriminately to describe everything from severe pain to hair loss, and invariably to anyone with a disability.

Braun leaves the impression that pain—physical or mental—is the main reason people request a hastened death. However, disability, feeling burdensome, seeing no purpose in continuing are much more likely to prompt such requests. The Supreme Court ruling leading to this new law explicitly singled out disability as a reason to support euthanasia. That leaves those of us with disabilities even more vulnerable than we already were. Instead of receiving psychological help if we become depressed, we can expect to be nudged into a hastened death. Yet in this article, the “vulnerable”—those who don’t belong—are dismissed as being cared for under our new law. Braun doesn’t question that assumption.

Ruth Enns, Winnipeg
Ruth Enns is a member of First Mennonite Church, Winnipeg. 
See also her viewpoint, “Court turns medicine into ‘death dealing’.”


MC Canada applauded for passing BDS resolution

Re: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) resolution referred to in “Decision roundup,” July 25, page 16.

I applaud Mennonite Church Canada’s passing of the BDS resolution. The stated goal of this Palestinian-led nonviolent movement is to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, and to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

Mennonites have always stood beside and supported the oppressed, seeking justice for those who do not have a voice. And to be sure, Palestinians do not have a voice in North American media and politics.

BDS is an inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement that is opposed on principle to all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the Palestinian BDS call urges nonviolent pressure on Israel until it complies with international law.

It is now up to us to get informed and to raise awareness about how Israel oppresses the Palestinian people, and how we can make a difference. My hope is that there can be peace in Palestine/Israel, and that the people can learn to live with each other. Without justice for both sides, this will never happen.

Alvin Thiessen, Winnipeg


Put not your trust in ‘princesses’

In these last, long days of summer, buried behind earthquakes and the Rio Olympics, was the news that Jane Philpott, Liberal cabinet star and a member of Community Mennonite Church of Stouffville, Ont., found it necessary to spend $3,700 to take a ride in a limousine owned by a Liberal political supporter to a place where important decisions were being made.

A quick Google search led me to a Nov. 4, 2015, Canadian Mennonite online article that fairly gushed over the fact that the “partisan”—read “bad”—former Conservative MP had been defeated by Philpott, the new, value-laden Anabaptist who was going to change Canada for the better. Welcome to a Canadian version of neo-Yoderian Mennonite theology.

If Canadian Mennonite had upheld each politician to the same high standard, fair enough. But no. To uphold a socially constructed set of truths—held because one subscribes to a particular ideology—means that the Jane Philpotts of the Canadian Mennonite world get held to a different standard than anyone who Canadian Mennonite might not agree with. Is this what passes for journalistic best practices?

So here we are, in the last long days of summer, and I quote from Psalms 146: “Put not your trust in princes [or princesses] . . . .” Might not be bad advice for Canadian Mennonite as a new season approaches.

Walter Bergen, Abbotsford, B.C.


Dismissed employee now reports on ‘positive’ outcomes

Re: “When your services are no longer required,” Aug. 29, page 4.

It is interesting to read this article, which was researched while snow still lay on the ground, now that much healing has taken place.

Since then, I have been welcomed by the Mennonite partners I worked with, and by Mennonite Church Canada, to complete projects that remained incomplete when my employment was terminated. This included being a workshop presenter at Mennonite Church Canada’s Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon this summer.

I was also invited to a meeting to reconcile with those who gave me the sudden and sad news that my employment was over. I have been warmly welcomed back to office celebrations.

While this does not undo the pain of the sudden termination, the picture of what happened is fuller and more positive than the article indicates.

Elsie Rempel, online comment


Kudos on Aug. 15 issue of Canadian Mennonite

The “We can always afford to be generous” feature on page 4 was great. Thank you for the reminder to be thankful for many things. I believe we should give because we want to give. We have received so many blessings in our lives here in Canada. Show that we are thankful by sharing.

My husband Martin and I choose to go to the United Church. After I’ve read Canadian Mennonite, I like to share it with our minister. There are always so many good articles. Your magazine helps me keep in touch with my roots.

In reading the page 7 column, “Creating space,” in reference to the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, it struck me that this morning’s devotion in Rejoice was based on Psalm 103:1-10. Those who are so concerned about “sin,” note verse 10, where it says, “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.” Why are we so concerned about someone else’s sexuality? Am I to be their judge? My Bible says we are to love.

Mary Ann Goerzen, Salmon Arm, B.C.

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