Suffering pain after death?

A Roman Catholic bioethicist (is there any other brand of bioethicist?) was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald of 12 August 2018 thus: that she and nine other international counterparts were arguing that “assisted suicide had not achieved its aims of relieving pain and suffering … “

• Could the dead continue to feel pain?
• The matter under discussion is ‘voluntary assisted dying’ or ‘legislated assisted dying’
• But the journalist and the bioethicist refer to suicide, which is illegal (but why is it illegal?)
• Traditionally, those opposed to voluntary euthanasia have referred to the process as ‘killing’
• Then there was the claim that allowing voluntary euthanasia for humans (euthanasia for pets being acceptable) would lead to a societal slippery slope ; that thereby senior citizens could (would?) be killed by their clansmen for material gain
By what right do theologians and bioethicists of a single Christian church interfere in the lives of multicultural fellow-citizens whose paths to God are equally viable?
• Australia is officially non-sectarian – is it in practice?
• THE CORE ISSUE: HOW COULD THEOLOGY OVER-RIDE COMPASSION for those suffering unalleviated and enduring pain, in spite of palliative care?
• How could a Christian (or anyone else) deny compassion to a fellow-human co-created by God?


My contribution to my communities

I do believe that we have an implicit obligation to the community which sustains us. From my high school days until about 10 years ago (age 80), I have participated fully in what is known as civil society.

My greatest contribution was to have a federal government reverse (yes, reverse) a Cabinet decision. I was assisted by one of my Senators. We fought for the principle that one party to a legal contract (here, the federal government) could not unilaterally change the terms of the contract.

When, as National President of Australian Rostrum (akin to Toastmasters), I enabled – after 5 years of persuasion – women to become members, I was reportedly seen as a feminist. That apparently led me to be interviewed for the position of head of the women’s affairs unit in the Prime Ministers Department. I suspect that I was the token male contestant.

Going back in time, I was a foundation member of the Overseas Students Association of the University of Melbourne and also the Malayan Students Association of Victoria.
As the foundation chairman of a primary school board, I wrote the outline of a program to teach primary school children about religion (no religious indoctrination). The Schools Authority accepted my outline. I did express my hope to the Authority that high schools would cover comparative religion. (I had studied child development during my training as a research psychologist; and I had been reading about religion and religions since age 24.)
Ten years of a sustained effort (7 years as chairman of the union committee) on merit protection in the public sector in the national capital, and years of interviewing candidates for senior positions appearing before promotion appeals committees, led me to being granted a Meritorious Service Award by my public service union, the A.C.O.A..
Our efforts resulted in a legal judgement that natural justice did apply in the public sector; and an acceptance by the Public Service Board that total transparency in the selection and appeals processes – through written appraisals – should apply. This would deny oral personal denigrations – which were commonplace.

As well, I was the course director for 3 years of joint Public Service Board/A.C.O.A. courses (which I shaped each time, according to need) on interviewing techniques and selection procedures. My departmental head did say to me “I quite like the way you worked for the union” while denying me the promotion which my peers felt I had earned.

For another 3 years, together with a Scottish friend, I planned and taught, in the name of Rostrum, short courses for the federal public service, including one for foreign-service trainees from Asia.

I am the founder of a public speaking competition for primary school students in the national capital and surrounding townships; and the co-founder of a comparable national competition for secondary schools.

After retirement I served on 4 committees in one coastal township, and on 6 committees in another coastal township – where I now live. I am now too old, too tired, and too busy writing to make any further contributions to civil society.

Laissez-faire parenting vs. ‘tiger mothers’

“If you put up with disrespectful behaviour, if you allow the kids to do what they want, when they want, that’s laissez-faire parenting.” (Michael Carr-Gregg, psychologist and author). This quote is from the article ‘Happiness over-rated: secret life of a tiger mother’ by academic Jenna Price in the Sydney Morning Herald of 27 Feb. 2018.  “… the phrase tiger mother is an unscientific term for parents who practise negative parenting: cold and controlling” (Carr-Gregg)

A friend of Price is opposed to “the close monitoring of the way children spend their time, coaching and choosing an area with good schools. … the hyper-racialisation of selective schools has led to anxiety among white families.”

Price’s response is priceless. “I care not for the race-related anxieties of white families. I care about ensuring children have enough cultural and social capital to be prepared for a life of serious engagement. And if that means they have to complete their schoolwork to the best of their ability, they don’t go out to party.” “We must have expectations of our children and hold them to account. That shouldn’t be reserved for the sporting field …”

More wisdom from Price. “Learning matters. School work matters. Times tables. Spelling. Grammar. Major dates in history. Learning to put in your fair share of effort when you do group work. The need to think out difficult concepts and be able to argue your position. And you can’t do that without reading, reading, reading. Preparing for exams and completing them to the best of your ability. Making a real effort. No poor excuses.

(Comment: The education ‘industry’ seems to be opposed to tests, as these allegedly cause stress to the students. Since tests implicate the efficacy of teachers … …! Are parents not implicated as well? Education Minister Birmingham reprimanded parents recently, insisting we must do more to stem the declining performance of our 15-year-olds in maths, reading and science.)

The following comment by Price is pertinent. “There are tiger parents in Australia, forced to participate in secret because of a national desire to pretend achievement doesn’t matter. We are the land of the laid-back, of stress less, of no worrying.”

(Comment: Since Australia does produce top-quality graduates from school and university – and they are not all of ethnic origin – Price is obviously concerned about those youngsters who are being let down by themselves, parents, teachers and the education system as a whole.)

Depression – social or chemical?

A recently-retired couple asked their doctor for a prescription for the husband; the wife said that her husband was depressed. After a lengthy consultation, the doctor advised them to sit by the sea, about 5 minutes away, as often as possible. He would not write a prescription. The claimed depression soon evaporated.

A young doctor had prescribed medication for clinical depression. A more experienced doctor, however, found no evidence of clinical depression. The younger doctor’s explanation was that the patient had told her that she felt sad from time to time. After losing 2 sons in succession and a pregnancy mid-term, who wouldn’t? She displayed great sadness on the dates of her losses; but then reverted to her normal happy family life.

Against these experiences, psychiatrists seem to have identified an increasing number of psychiatric maladies. The recommended treatment involves a pharmaceutical product, expected to control or treat a chemical imbalance in the brain.

According to an article “Blue by you” by Johann Hari in the ‘Good Weekend’ magazine of the Sydney Morning Herald of 3 Feb. 2018: In the US, “… if your baby dies at 10 am, your doctor can diagnose you with a mental illness at 10.01 am and start drugging you straight away.” The article also said “Between 65 and 80 per cent of people taking chemical anti-depressants become depressed again.” “There is a real effect – but, alas, for many users, it is not enough to lift them out of depression.”

The article quotes Dr. Joanne Cacciatore of Arizona State University thus: “… a key problem with how we talk about depression, anxiety and other forms of suffering; we don’t … “consider context.” “When you have a person with extreme human distress, we need to stop treating the symptoms.”

The author of the article ‘Blue by you’ states that “… human beings have natural psychological needs too – but, Australian society, and the wider Western world, is not meeting those needs for many of us, and that is the primary reason why depression and anxiety are soaring.” “There has been an explosion in loneliness.”

To that, social researcher Hugh Mackay adds “The biggest contribution is fragmentation.” “Humans are social animals. We need communities.”

Doctors in Cambodia told African psychiatrist Derek Summerfeld that “finding an anti-depressant didn’t mean finding a way to change your brain chemistry. It meant finding a way to solve the problem that was causing the depression in the first place.

Comparably, a doctor in London (Dr. Sam Everington) ‘prescribed’ participation in a group activity. It is a successful approach.

Johann Hari’s book is ‘Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and Anxiety – and the Real Solutions.’

University degree vs. vocational training.

Forty-five percent of all Australian youths should attend a university – so decided the federal government. Such a move would obviously keep the job-seeker level low for a while. Yet, the same government allows the entry of a very large number of immigrants and refugees each year. The belief-theory underlying this entry policy is that the consumer demand generated would benefit the economy. What of development?

Australia is already deficient in necessary infrastructure and needed housing. Development, however, requires investment by entrepreneurs and qualified tradespeople. Would the 30 or so universities which are re-badged vocational colleges produce the needed tradespeople?

An article in the 28 Feb. 2018 issue of the Sydney Morning Herald by Ross Gittins is pertinent. Ross is an account who explains economics more clearly than many of the economists I have read. In his article ‘Back to school with job training,’ he wrote “Don’t be so sure that going to university is the best way to get a good job.”

He points out that:
• Less than 10% of the increase in employment forecast by the government will be for those with no post-school qualifications
• 43% of the jobs will require a bachelor or higher degree (In what?)
• 47% will therefore require trade qualifications
• Median pre-tax earnings by employees with a bachelor degree was $1280/week whereas an employee with a trade qualification would earn $1035/week.
• While funding for trade training was reduced, university entrance was ‘demand-driven.’ “The vice-chancellors couldn’t believe their luck. Particularly, those at regional and outer suburbs unis went crazy, lowering their admission standards and admitting largely increased numbers.” (And competing with one another.)
• “It’s likely that many of those extra students will struggle to reach university standards – unless, of course, exams have been made easier to accommodate them.” (Multiple-choice questions for first degrees, and no essay for a postgraduate degree?)
• “Those who abandon their studies may find themselves lumbered with … debt without much to show for it.”
• Trade and related training was then exposed to “competition from private providers of ‘vocational education and training.’ To attract … more entrepreneurial for-profit training providers, the feds extended … a version of the uni system of deferred loans to cover tuition fees.”
• “… the supposed trainers could get paid upfront by a federal bureaucracy that took an age to realise it was being done over.”
• “Far too little is being done to get TAFE (Technical & Further Education) training properly back in business after most of the for-profit providers have folded into the night.”
• There is a need for a “thoroughgoing review of our malfunctioning post-school education arrangements.”

(Comment: Could a nation which has no forward plans be expected to avoid the mess its bureaucrats had allowed to happen?)

Child prodigies represent evidence of reincarnation

To me, only soul memory after being reincarnated can explain how a 5-year old asks to play the violin, and by 10, is able to play at such a high level of competence that I am reminded of Vengerev, a Russian violinist. Vengerev plays the violin in a manner which he claims reflects the intention of the composer. I found his style most impressive.

There have been so many examples of little children, normally under the age of 6 to 8, who display musical skills of a very high level, to suggest that their souls simply required expression in their current lives.

I am inclined to this view not only because of the very substantial evidence of past-life memories of children all over the world, obtained by competent researchers, but also by intimations of my past life as a Muslim warrior (confirmed by a clairvoyant spontaneously) – while I remain a metaphysical Hindu in this life. Explanation? Replace war with peaceful consultation and co-operation. I am still learning.

Here are 2 examples of past skills surfacing early in life, which I obtained from the Internet (“Are child prodigies evidence of reincarnation?”)

“ Akrit Jaswal is a Punjabi adolescent who has been hailed as a child prodigy who has gained fame in his native Punjab (India) as a physician, despite never having attended medical school.”

“Kim Ung-Yong was a guest student of physics at Hanyang University from the age of 3 until he was 6.[1]. At the age of 7 he was invited to America by NASA.[1]. He finished his university studies, eventually getting a Ph.D. in physics at Colorado State University [1] before he was 15. In 1974, during his university studies, he began his research work at NASA[1] and continued this work until his return to Korea in 1978.”

Was Hercules an Indian?

The following extracts are from the Graham Hancock website displaying an article by Bibhu Dev Misra (published in 2014).

“This article is a continuation of a couple of previous articles that I have written on the topic of Hercules and Balarama, and their Egyptian counterpart Khonsu. In this two-part article, I shall explore the lasting impact that Hercules had on the institution of Kingship in ancient Egypt. But, before I begin, here is a brief outline of what I had discussed in the previous two articles.

In the first article article titled “Hercules and Balarama: The Symbolic and Historical Connections”i, I have pointed out that the Greek historians such as Arrian and Diodorus Siculus (who were quoting from the still earlier works of Megasthenes) have represented Hercules as a native of India, who was depicted amongst the Indians with his club and lion’s hide, and was worshipped by the Surasena tribe at the city of Mathura, on the banks of the Yamuna river. These descriptions suggest that the Grecian Hercules was Balarama, the elder brother of Krishna. A number of Oriental scholars of the early 19th century, including Captain Francis Wilford and Colonel James Tod, have provided further insights in support of this association, and my own research has led me to identify some more commonalities between these heroic personalities.”

“ In a subsequent article titled “Balarama and Khonsu: Comparisons between the Indian and Theban Hercules”ii, I have investigated the purport of Arrian’s statement that the “Indian Hercules shares the same habits with the Theban Hercules”, and come to the conclusion that the Theban Hercules was Khonsu, who was one of the members of the Theban triad of divinities, along with Amun and Mut. Herodotus referred to Khonsu as Heracles-Khonsu, and a shrine to Heracles-Khonsu was found in the submerged ruins of Heracleion in the Abu Qir bay, located off the cost of Alexandria. Khonsu, like Hercules and Balarama, was regarded as a great “Traveler”, a “Protector” and a “Defender of the King”; as a god of fertility, agriculture, and virility; as a great healer; and as the Great Serpent which took part in cosmic creation.”

“While Khonsu shares many symbolic elements with Hercules and Balarama, the ancient Egyptian sources do not tell us whether he performed any heroic deeds like Hercules. The ancient Greek historians, however, provide us with some accounts of the events that transpired on the arrival of Hercules in Egypt, many thousands of years back.”

(Comment: Food for thought?)