A few days ago, I attended a conference at which I met a Venezuelan currently in exile in the U.K.
This young man is passionate about politics and philosophy.
When I shared with him about some of the current debates in Canadian politics concerning bioethics, he was perplexed.
Essentially he expressed his perplexity as follows: My country is a mess. There is massive corruption, countless human rights violations, and many basic needs of citizens are unmet. We imagine that Canada is so much more advanced. Yet, you seem to be divided on the most fundamental questions.
Indeed, Canadians are divided about what it means to be a man, to be a woman, to be married, to be a person, to be alive.
Despite industrial development, material prosperity, and impressive longevity, we are still unsure about a lot of the basics.
It is revealing that someone from Venezuela can question our supposed advancement in this way.
Brett Wilson was just 22 years old in the summer of 2019 when his father Rick was diagnosed with ALS.
ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and is a fatal nervous system disease.
In Canada, Rick was unable to secure a definitive diagnosis and so he travelled to the U.S.
“The verdict that he ‘might have ALS’ was not good enough for us,” Brett explained. “We needed clarity about what is essentially a death sentence of a disease since ALS involves a usual prognosis of a 2-5 year lifespan after the onset of symptoms.”
While awaiting confirmation of the disease, Brett refused to believe that his father had the terminal illness.
“I refused to believe it or talk about it,” he told me. “I kind of shunned my extended family who wanted to talk about it and, of course, for a while, it’s all they would talk about.”
Once Rick received the formal diagnosis, Brett remembers that his own life became “a cloud of stress.”
His grades took a hit in his fourth year of university and he marvels at how something about which he had previously known next to nothing became a consuming and omnipresent reality.