Watching the documentary on Lesley Martin a couple of nights ago, two things were striking about her attitude in it. Firstly, her conviction that ‘All New Zealand’ was waiting for a law change in regard to euthanasia. Secondly, her sense that she was somehow the chosen person to do the task, and that everything, including family relationships (particularly with her husband, who was struggling to see her viewpoint) were secondary to her cause.
At one point we saw a heated and hurtful debate between her and her husband, (while a third party stood embarrassed nearby saying nothing) in which she effectively berated him for not being enough of a man to stand beside her, and that if he wouldn’t stand by her she’d do it alone. He for his part wanted her to put an end to the campaigning; she was already on trial for killing her mother (something she could have got away with if she hadn’t published her book) and, as he pointed out, in spite of her belief, there was no foregone conclusion that she was going to come out of it without conviction. (She didn’t: she was sent to jail for a period).
It showed how difficult it must be to live with someone who is convinced they’re right about something, who have a call to do something and for whom everything else in life is a side issue. (It was interesting to hear the husband say that he just wanted to get back to ‘real life’ as soon as the trial was over. Of course, that couldn’t be, since she was put in jail.)
But besides the difficulty of living with someone who’s virtually prepared to be a martyr to their cause, the greater difficulty must be in living with someone who is convinced not only that they’re right but also that they have a majority of people standing behind them, even when there are no facts to back this up. Lesley Martin doesn’t have a majority standing behind her, and regrettably, because of the hard-nosed, stony-faced way she came across, there’s little likelihood that people would join up with her cause because it’s difficult to empathise with her as a person. Her mercy-killing of her mother never came across as something that was ‘necessary’ to anyone else except Martin herself – and that’s the difficulty she has in convincing others that she was right. However ill her mother was, we’re not convinced she right to do what she did.
Thou shalt not kill remains, for most of us, the norm.
The other interesting thing about the documentary that one of Martin’s closest friends didn’t feel she was right, even though she stuck by Martin as a friend. If you can’t convince those closest to you, who can you convince?
While looking up Lesley Martin on Google, I came across a quote from Wesley Smith, a person I hadn't heard of. "The overriding and implacable goal of the movement will always be what it has been from its inception more than one hundred years ago--legalized killing as a legitimate answer to illness and human suffering." I see he has a Blog, too, and one in which he obviously continually undercuts the false ethics of people like Martin and her ilk.