Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
The recent murder of nineteen disabled people in Japan did not cause the outpouring of rage and grief that many other instances of violence have caused around the globe. In fact, it was astonishingly underreported. There are, I think, a few reasons for this. Firstly, the killer didn't use a gun so the gun-banning crowd had nothing from the incident that they could use to further their agenda. Secondly, it wasn't an act of Muslim terrorism so you didn't have that ready-made angle. It's almost like we only pay attention to the tragedies which confirm our beliefs and can be used to further our agendas. But lastly, I believe this tragedy escaped the notice of so many simply because the victims were just disabled people.
I mean it. I don't believe that people openly think 'they had it coming' but it's more of a 'hey, at least they're not suffering anymore' mindset. This view is eerily similar to the words the killer used to explain his actions.
Satoshi Uematsu, the alleged killer, wrote in part:
My reasoning is that I may be able to revitalise the world economy and I thought it may be possible to prevent World War III. I envision a world where a person with multiple disabilities can be euthanised, with an agreement from the guardians, when it is difficult for the person to carry out household and social activities. I believe there is still no answer about the way of life for individuals with multiple disabilities. The disabled can only create misery. I think now is the time to carry out a revolution and to make the inevitable but tough decision for the sake of all mankind. Let Japan take the first big step.
He also compared the disabled to animals. This line of thinking is not anomalous. Peter Singer, one of the most influential modern philosophers, once wrote: "Once we abandon those doctrines about the sanctity of human life that...collapse as soon as they are questioned, it is the refusal to accept killing that, in some cases, is horrific."
In our culture today, death seems to be the prescription for every problem. If you're pregnant and poor - death to the unborn for the mother's good. If you're old - death for your own good and the good of society. If you're disabled -death because you're expensive and unproductive. Once God is removed from your thinking, subjecting life to a cost/benefit analysis makes all the sense in the world. And this is how we come to our burgeoning secularist utopias which are gleefully ridding the last vestiges of Christianity from the public sphere.
It's not that these secularist utopias necessarily deem all life to be worthless, just certainly not priceless. When we talk about the dangers of banishing God from the public sphere, Christians are not just talking about praying at school graduations. We're also talking about who has a right to life. And the fact is that if the right to life does not come from God, you are simply seeking permission from the government.
Christians know that saying "life is sacred" seems unreasonable and incomprehensible to non-believers. It's very different than "Lives Matter" rhetoric. When you get into "mattering" you have questions about who matters more and how much do they matter. When you say all life is sacred, either all life is sacred or none of it is. A few years ago, Psychology Today reported that "Secular Societies Fare Better Than Religious Societies." All I can think when I see that is "I'll tell the victims of Mao and Stalin."
I don't believe euthanasia is the end goal of remaking the world into a secularist utopia but it is a rather horrible consequence. "Good" is being replaced by "tolerance" which, ironically, means stamping out dissenters. The concept of "sin" is being replaced with "political incorrectness." The concept of mercy replaced with a cessation of suffering i.e. death. Instead of God's commandments we have government regulations. And finally, love is simply hollowed out into some general pronouncement of a general affinity towards man. When secularist utopians speak of love they often speak of love of man, in general. Christianity challenges us to love specifically. It's a lot harder. It's easy to say I care for the downtrodden by paying higher taxes. However, it's difficult to care for and love a specific person who needs help on a daily basis.
We are each other's burdens to bear and gifts from God. We work out our salvation in the daily grind of loving and serving one another. It's messy and hard. I get it. But that is what Christ calls us to do. Our love is not a theoretical love. It is specific and it is alive in our daily lives. Or it is nothing. You can't vote your way into Heaven. You can't pay enough taxes to earn your salvation. We change diapers, we wipe loved one's mouths who can't do it themselves, we love through our patience even when the objects of our love are irritable and frustrated, we love when those that loved us can't remember who we are anymore. We love.
Christians must understand that others in need is an opportunity to show love. All others. Love, however, is hard and you can't get it with a pill like euthanasia. Love comes with responsibility, not a prescription to end their suffering. Love is not reasonable in their world. Fortunately, this is God's world. We just have to remind ourselves sometimes.