O Canada! Assisted suicide, the Christian meaning of defeat, and King Alfred the Great
By Dr. Jeff Mirus, Feb 10, 2015
Last week’s news that the Canadian Supreme Court had struck down Canada’s law against assisted suicide is an object lesson. The justices have become the latest poster children for what is wrong with the world. I wish to consider just two of these serious wrongs, and to identify one inevitable consequence. Finally, with help from King Alfred the Great, I will suggest that there is only one way forward.
Democracy Is Dead
When a country has a law passed by its representative legislature which prohibits assisted suicide, and a court summarily overturns that law based on nothing but its own interior lights, then democracy has died in that country. Of course, democracy has already died in quite a few countries which used to be quite proud of their democratic heritage. Canada’s large neighbor to the south, the United States, has already provided numerous indicators of the same.
I admit that democracy is hardly essential for a political order to be conducive to the common good. In fact, I doubt that democracy has actually ever been achieved. Has there ever been a society in which everyone was permitted to vote, and in which every vote counted equally? More to the point, different people in different cultures may establish all kinds of arrangements for the conduct of public affairs, of which democracy (including its step child, the republic) is but one. In any case, the common good itself depends upon far more than politics.
Nonetheless, there are many who ought to find the death of democracy troubling, especially if they live in a kind of cultural mind warp. One such “warp” is the loud and constant insistence that our nations are truly democratic societies. To live in this “warp”, we need only to assume that a few justices in a high court represent the will of the demos (the people) better than the people represent themselves.