Thursday, February 21, 2008

The sanctimonious and ridiculous over-simplification of Anne Atkins

Oh goodness me. Just when you have been lulled into a false sense of security, up pops Anne Atkins Radio 4's "Thought for the day".

Oh crikey.

As usual, I have to brace myself and remind myself not to be judgmental, before I have heard what she has got to say.

So, I try to ignore the smug, patronising and sanctimonious tone and the hushed, melodramatic delivery which seems to be designed to give the "thought" an air of reasonableness and authority, but instead gives Ms Atkins' unreasonable views a blood-chilling air.

Instead, I try to hear what the message is and properly evaluate whether it is valid. Calm. Calm. Calm.

Suicide is wrong, she says. The Chief Rabbi told her this and she told a 10 year old boy this and he never contemplated suicide again. That was her gist. Here it is in her own words:

I was once privileged to be talking to a ten year old who had seriously contemplated ending his life: he had an undiagnosed disability, and it seemed a reasonable response to the in-tolerable situation he was in. "Has no one ever told you," I remembered the late Chief Rabbi's succinct political incorrectness, "that suicide is wrong? As killing anyone is wrong.""Is it?" he said, astonished.And told me, years later, that he never considered suicide again.

It's no good. I can't control myself a second longer.


That's better.

'Suicide is wrong. There. Done. Sorted. '

That's just brain-burstingly over-simplistic. Where's the Christian compassion in that?

'It's wrong. So there.'

Dear me. But of course, Atkins' treatise seems to assume that suicide is increasing - but it isn't - it's decreasing. And the Brigend incidences are still possibly, according to the Samaritans, a statistical anomaly rather than any significant associated trend.

I find myself clinging to the memory of Rev Chad Varah, a Christian priest who saw the need to extend the hand of friendship to fellow humans going through loneliness and thoughts of suicide.
That's the real Christian attitude to those contemplating suicide which I would like to keep in mind - not Anne Atkins' "It's wrong - so there - nah, nah - nah, nah, nah".

What gets me is that, by allowing this woman on "Thought for the Day" there appears to be a presumption that she represents some form of constituency within society.

Are there really any other people who think like Ms Atkins? I find it hard to believe.

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