Big Issues


Occasionally, St Alf’s holds a “Big Issues” night. One or more speakers, usually experts in their fields, speak on a… well, big issue. On Saturday night Tress and I went for one of those nights.

Earlier in the day we had busied ourselves with keeping the house tidy. The hedges have gone a bit hormonal and grown yet again. The last time I trimmed it had been before Kiddo’s wedding. It must have been easily 6 weeks, if not longer. LBJ also had his appointment with Amber for his quarterly trim and so by about 8.15, after LBJ was handed over for Amber to bring him into that cute little blue shuttle hooked to the back of her SUV, Tress and I finished up our brekky and got to work.

I had also lined up a visit to a unit on the foot of the Dandenongs – one of those places I hoped would afford me no more hedge trimming which involves climbing up and down a step ladder while lugging an increasingly heavy trimmer. That visit was to be between 12.30-1pm so when it was close to 12pm, I finished up – the hedges looked more presentable and lawns mowed – and we went to see that unit.

After the viewing we were subconsciously driving towards Madam K – which was a bit dumb as it would have been maybe 20-25km away – so Tress had a brainwave and suggested we went to a different place nearer to where we were – just a couple of km away. It was teeming when we got there so it was obviously very popular. After lunch we did our usual grocery shopping before we tore ourselves away from the couch at home and went for the Big Issues Night.

The big issue was the legalisation of assisted suicide/euthanasia in Vic and we had a couple of very eminent practitioners speak, both members of St Alf’s. JB is a highly qualified, experienced and decorated medical doctor/psychiatrist and MS is a senior lawyer, ex Crown Counsel of Victoria and now partner of a law firm as well as a founder director of a think-thank for civil society concerns. I guess one can say Saturday night was a richly rewarding 2 hours and a far cry from a day of gardening, footy following and such other more down to earth pursuits.

We learned a ministerial advisory panel had been set up, will finalise its report sometime in the next month or so and would by July, introduce draft legislation to legalise assisted suicide. We learned the difference between physician assisted suicide and voluntary and involuntary euthanasia. We learned of the experience of those living in Netherlands, Belgium, Oregon and about half a dozen other states in the US – all with similar legislation. We learned how much of an under-utilised area of medicine palliative care is, and how there is such a big chance that the outcome of this bill will be driven by individual experiences of people – MP’s – whose experience could have been so different had issues like palliative care, common good and slippery slope (logical weakness notwithstanding) been taken into account.

For the umpteenth time, I wondered about the type of society we live in. I am tempted yet again, to take the easy route by concluding therein like yet another evidence that man simply wants to rebel against God. In this instance, it is to thumb our nose at the pinnacle of his creation – human life – and say to him, “this too, I am rejecting”

When we got home I was yet again very grateful for being part of the community at St Alf’s and wo looked forward to the next morning.

At brekky on Sunday morning I looked up the church directory – just to be sure about the name of the gentleman we spoke with during a coffee break of the night before. Then it was to Madam K we went – before we went looking for some stuff to alleviate the harshness of winter. After the usual cooking (by me) and ironing (Tress) we both spoke to our mums later that afternoon and we talked about how the harshness of many things become more pronounced with age. It was good to speak with mum again. Apparently Goh – my brother in law – has been back from Suzhou to be with my sister and their boys. That was wonderful in part but we wondered if that meant his work there would come to an end after all these years.

We both enjoy watching Master Chef so that was how we wound up our weekend – watching those very talented home cooks almost always evoke the very satisfying sense of bon viveur – and they keep me honest. They soften the harshness of big issues that surround the proposed changes in law concerning something that we all have to eventually face.

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