Is this how I’m going to die?

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Is this how I’m going to die?

That was the inconvenient question that popped into my mind this morning as the nurse told me to relax and plunged a syringe into my upper arm.

You see, I’m one of a rather significant number of people who receive a free ‘flu’ shot each year. It’s free because my immune system is a tad dodgy. I’m one of those people who are chronically ill, constantly in pain. It’s not something I like to talk about – indeed, I try to soldier on, as no one likes a wet blanket – but there are moves afoot to legalise euthanasia where I live, and my medical condition makes me a potential victim.

Victim. That’s right, victim, because there’s no other honest way of putting it. Euthanasia is the administration of “prescribed medication” to kill someone. I don’t think I’m “eligible” yet according to the provisions of the bill that’s currently under consideration by the Tasmanian parliament, but a clever lawyer could argue it. After all, I already suffer from an “incurable and irreversible” disease. As much as I don’t like to admit it, it does cause me “persistent suffering”. There’s also no “reasonable prospect of permanent improvement” in my medical condition.

The truth is: every day is a battle. If it weren’t for so many people depending on me, I might slide into a malaise that would gradually poison my mind into thinking that life is not worth living. (Parenthood is hell, but it teaches you that self-sacrifice is worth it.) If it weren’t for the fact that I’m stubborn and implacable in my determination to experience life (even with all its pain and suffering), I might have given up living with this disease a long time ago. I look back at my younger self and recognise that twenty years ago I would possibly have chosen oblivion over the daily battle I now face.

You may wonder why I am not bothering to elucidate all the moral arguments against euthanasia as is my usual wont, but at the end of the day it is our personal experiences that shape us. Perhaps we shouldn’t, but most of us make decisions based on the way we feel, and as rational as I am I can’t and won’t ignore the power of gut instinct. It is gut instinct (or conscience) that often tells us something is wrong before we even know why it is wrong, and that is where I want to begin.

My point is that being unwell affects the way we see the world and our place in it. When I am sick – or, more to the point, when I am extra sick because I am sick all the time – all I can see are my failures. I’m useless, hopeless, and everything is pointless. I think my children would be better off without me, I imagine no one reads what I write, and the household chores are not only endless but impossible. I imagine I am the ugliest and most repulsive woman on the planet.

Chronic illness takes those periodic feelings of depression and magnifies them. It draws them out… forever. It makes us vulnerable to the most destructive of thoughts.

The lure of suicide, of escape from it all, is enough of a problem in our society. I think we all know someone who has succumbed. We wonder if we’d spent more time with them, listened more, or simply not left them alone, that perhaps they might still be with us. So why would we want to validate it, enable it, and empower it? Why would we want to not only endorse suicide but legislate a raft of measures that disguise killing as mercy?

A friend of mine lost her husband not so long ago. He was not euthanised, but he wasn’t resuscitated. Despite her tearful pleadings, and even though they were newlyweds with a beautiful two-year-old son, medical staff decided his chances of a full recovery at his age (early fifties) were too low. He adored his wife and young son, and I am certain he would have gladly lived bedridden or in a wheelchair in order to watch his son grow up and be part of their lives, but the doctors decided it would be more merciful to let him die. And that’s the sort of mercy I think we can do without.

The euthanasia mentality is already with us, poisoning the way we think about life and the people around us. So many of my friends suffer from depression. I know I am not alone. But there are people who lift me up and give me strength. Some of them are concentration camp survivors. Their passion for life was strongest when they were suffering most. In the midst of the most unspeakable torture, they clung to life and fought for it with a strength they had no idea they possessed. They fought with every last breath to stay alive, because it was worth it, even to see one more ray of sunlight on the wall, a patch of blue sky through puffy white clouds, or the face of the one they loved.

They’re not small-minded politicians whose response to human misery is to get rid of the problem. They defied their pain and suffering and embraced life, and that’s the sort of person I want to be. That’s the sort of person I want all of us to be. I don’t want to put a metaphorical gun to someone’s head and put them out of their misery. I don’t want to turn doctors who save lives into state-sanctioned killers. I want to help people enjoy life, despite the pain, throughout the suffering. I want them to appreciate the small mercies that make it all worthwhile. Is that really too much to hope for?

Tommy Robinson Rants

There’s considerable vitriol being aimed at Tommy Robinson for his comments at the scene of today’s terrorist attack. Many articles are posting selective excerpts, videos cut to emphasise certain aspects of his commentary. However, he was being interviewed, so here is the interview fyi.
 
I’d also add that what Robinson is saying is (or should be) common knowledge. I decided to randomly check some of his claims.
 
1. “450 ISIS fighters been allowed to return to our country”. According to an article yesterday in the BBC, there are at least 850 British “jihadists” and approximately half have returned to the UK.
 
2. “4 terrorist attacks last week in France” I can find evidence of three such incidents after a two-minute search.
 
3. Al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine “was downloaded by 50,000 British Muslims last year”. Actually, this is an underestimate. It was reported in early 2015 that 54,723 people downloaded it in a three-month period.
 
4. “3000 Muslims” being monitored for suspected terrorist activity. On 18/9/2015 the Times (amongst others) reported that MI5 and other security services are monitoring 3000 “homegrown Islamist extremists willing to carry out attacks in Britain” and that six plots had been foiled that past year. As for cost, the Australian reported in 2014 that the cost of monitoring just one jihadist in Australia was $8 million per year.
 
Robinson’s remarks are heated, but they’re based on solid easily-verified facts, and four people had just been brutally slaughtered. Many more (including school children) will be maimed for life. He has good reason to be angry.
 
The media seem determined to condemn Tommy Robinson for ranting and raging, to discredit him because he is emotional, but what I find disturbing is the selectivity. Apparently, it’s okay to be emotional about Muslim refugees but not about slaughtered Christians in the Middle East and Africa, to get upset about Clinton losing an election but not the murder of a police officer. I’m sure Tommy Robinson has his faults, but I’m not willing to censure him for getting upset about yet another horrific terrorist attack in heart of western civilisation. I’m pretty upset too. We all should be….

Croatia: Great Excitement For “The General” Feature Movie

Having read the book, I’m looking forward to this much-anticipated film/series.

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Actor Goran Visnjic (L) General Ante Gotovina (R) Photo collage: croatiaweek.comActor Goran Visnjic (L)
General Ante Gotovina (R)
Photo collage: croatiaweek.com

It’s been about a week and much of Croatia is buzzing with excitement about the start of the filming of a new feature movie called “The General”. Most say: About time! And indeed it has great significance and potential in spreading and maintaining the truth about Croatia’s Homeland War and its Operation Storm of August 1995, which swiftly and decisively liberated the Croatian territory, occupied and ethnically cleansed of all non-Serbs by the Serb forces. This is a movie and a TV series’ filming of the long-awaited life story of Croatia’s much-loved war hero General – Ante Gotovina.

On August 4th, 1995, Operation Storm commenced. It was a large-scale military operation led by Croatian armed forces in order to gain back the control of Croatian territories which had been claimed by Serbs. The united Croatian forces led by General…

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Croatia: The Haunting Of War Missing 25 Years On

Vukovar still haunts me; it always will. The basement of the hospital has been ‘preserved’, but to my eyes it has been sanitised. What it was like during the Serb siege then the occupation cannot be communicated through tableaux or memorials. Remembrance means putting it all together and re-living the stories of both the survivors and the dead. We give honour to them every time we tell their stories, lest we forget….

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Connor Vlakancic at Vukovar November 2016 Photo: Connor Vlakancic Connor Vlakancic
at Vukovar
November 2016
Photo: Connor Vlakancic

Being in Vukovar on the 25th anniversary of horrid atrocities committed against innocent Croatian people by the Serb aggressor was a sombre, sad, gut-wrenching experience for over 120,000 people who visited there on 18 November and vividly remembered the horrors once again as my last post read. For those who were unable to be there, here is a close-up journal of what Connor Vlakancic’s eyes saw in the day leading up to that big day, on the day of Remembrance itself and the day after; what he felt as any of us might in the same place; he came from the US to be there.

Photo: Connor VlakancicPhoto: Connor Vlakancic

It is now 03:01, I can’t slumber, I must search about. The sky black of overcast and haze at ground level in the streetlights. The temperature is brisk and a breeze…

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Life and Times Of Croatia’s Blessed Alojzije Stepinac – A Robin Harris Book

Croatia, the War, and the Future

From left: Robin Harris (historian and author), Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (Croatian president) and Zeljko Tanjic (Rector, Croatian Catholic University) PHOTO: predsjednica.hrFrom left: Robin Harris (historian and author),
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (Croatian president)
and Zeljko Tanjic (Rector, Croatian Catholic University)
PHOTO: predsjednica.hr

It was Friday 21 October 2016 when in Zagreb Croatia, accompanied by the Croatian Catholic University rector Zeljko Tanjic the UK based Robin Harris presented a copy of his new book “Stepinac – His Life and Times” to the president of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic. Robin Harris is a well-known British historian, publicist, writer and an important adviser to the former United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

“Stepinac – His Life and Times” is the first all-encompassing biography of Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac, Cardinal Archbishop of Zagreb during WWII whose deeds and persona have been subject to controversies ever since WWII, mounted and perpetuated by the communists of Yugoslavia and their friends.
For the last seventy years—ever since his show-trial in 1946—Alojzije Stepinac, Cardinal Archbishop of Zagreb, has been the…

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The Haunting Reminders of Depravity of Communist Crimes

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Huda Pit Communist Crimes mass grave Transfer of victims' remains ceremony Photo source: dnevno.hrHuda Pit
Communist Crimes mass grave
Transfer of victims’ remains ceremony
Photo source: dnevno.hr

It was May, 1945. The Second World War was over, and the real agony of civilian refugees and defeated soldiers (independence and freedom from Kingdom of Yugoslavia fighters in particular) from the territories of former Yugoslavia had just begun. The agony of the defeated Croatian soldiers and civilians is known as the Way of the Cross. Instead of the humanitarian protection they should have received, Yugoslav partisans, communists, gave them death sentences. Endless columns of refugees from Yugoslavia walked towards the West, seeking refuge and instead were sent back and sent on the road of no return – Huda Pit was one of the places where that road finished for thousands innocent victims.
Post WWII Communist Yugoslavia was literally littered with mass graves, particularly Croatia and Slovenia – the remains cluttered the underground in deafening silence…

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No Dogs, Catholics Or Muslims Allowed

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Civilians of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1993 running for cover to avoid Serb snipers during the city's siege Photo: Chris Helgren/CorbisCivilians of Sarajevo in
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1993
running for cover to
avoid Serb snipers during the city’s siege
Photo: Chris Helgren/Corbis

The referendum held on 25 September 2016 in the entity of Serbian Republic (Republika Srpska/RS) within Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) regarding confirmation that 9 January should be set as public holiday for the celebration of the Day of Republika Srpska/Serbian Republic Statehood Day may to many in the outside world seem benign but given BiH’s geographic position coupled with the 1990’s history puts it all in a different light. But, in reality and in truth this frighteningly defiant move led by Milorad Dodik, RS president – and nourished and supported via Russia’s Vladimir Putin’s promises of financial supports – has all the hallmarks of officially legitimising war crimes, especially ethnic cleansing and genocide (including Srebrenica) committed during 1990’s against Croatians and Bosniaks/Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina/BiH in that…

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Paradižot

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I love Croatian food, but finding Croatian recipes in English isn’t always an easy task, so today I thought I’d post my own version of a famous Croatian dessert, paradižot.  I beg forgiveness if my interpretation is lacking in authenticity, but my family have been most pleased with the results.

Ingredients

  • 1 litre cream (or milk)
  • 7 eggs, separated
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/8 cup rum and milk (ratio according to personal taste)
  • 100g savoiardi biscuits (butter biscuits are traditional)
  • dark chocolate for grating

 

Method

Whip the egg whites with the salt until stiff, then beat in vanilla sugar.

Warm the cream and sugar in a wide pan to a gentle simmer.  Add spoonfuls of the egg whites and poach on both sides for 3-5 minutes.  (They should float around like icebergs.)

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Line the bottom of a serving dish (e.g. flat casserole dish) with the biscuits (and put aside any leftovers).  Sprinkle the biscuits with the rum/milk mixture, then half of the lemon zest.

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When the egg whites are cooked, layer them over the biscuits and crumble any leftover biscuits over the top.

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Add the egg yolks, vanilla sugar, and remaining lemon zest to the milk and heat gently. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens, then pour over the biscuits and egg whites.

Finally, grate chocolate over the top and chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.

2016-09-07-16_fotor

 

Communist Yugoslavia Verdict Against Croatia’s Blessed Aloysius Stepinac Quashed

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Zagreb County Court Friday 22 July 2016 centre: Judge Ivan Turudic, presiding Quashed 1946 communist Verdict against Blessed Aloysius Stepinac Photo: HINA/ Damir Sencar/dsZagreb County Court Friday 22 July 2016
centre: Judge Ivan Turudic, presiding
Quashed 1946 communist Verdict
against Blessed Aloysius Stepinac
Photo: HINA/ Damir Sencar/ds

A true, brilliant face of justice stepped out into the streets of Croatia and the world last Friday!
On 22 July 2016 Zagreb Country Court issued a judgment of great historical and political importance, announcing the complete annulment of the sentence against the archbishop of Zagreb, Aloysius Stepinac, passed by the politically rigged communist Yugoslav court 70 years ago, in October 1946.
The Zagreb County court in Croatia, a panel of judges presided over by Judge Ivan Turudic, annulled, quashed the 1946 communist Yugoslavia treason conviction against Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, ruling that he did not receive a fair trial. Belgrade (Serbia) driven anti-Croat hoards, whose mission was to ensure that Croatia was the only Yugoslav federation state to be made responsible for the crimes of the…

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“In The Eye Of The Storm” – Ante Gugo Book – Bringing Of Peace To Southeast Europe

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Cover of original book by Ante Gugo in the Croatian Language "The Storm Which We Could Not Avoid"Cover of original book by Ante Gugo
in Croatian Language
“The Storm Which We Could Not Avoid”

Croatian war reporter’s, journalist’s and writer’s Ante Gugo’s best-selling non-fiction book in Croatia “Storm Which We Could Not Avoid” first released in 2015 in the Croatian language, twenty years after Croatia’s August 1995 swift and skillful Operation Storm liberated Krajina part of Croatia’s territory occupied and ethnically cleansed by Serb forces in early 1990’s, has now been translated into the English language and its title is “In the Eye of the Storm”.

Ante Gugo had said that his book on the Operation Storm in Croatia arose from a desire to answer the question as to whether it would have been possible to realise the independence of Croatia without a war, that is, where is and how deep does the root of Croatian-Serbian contentions run. “The search for the answer to that question…

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