A Time to Speak; A Time to Keep Silence

I have learned a valuable lesson during the past few days: it is sometimes wiser to allow misunderstandings to proliferate rather than try to set them right. You may wonder at that. Surely, we have a duty to speak up in defence of right? On the whole, I would agree, but twice in recent days, when the post-chemo brain fog has been at its foggiest, I have realised the uselessness of any intervention.

The first was a minor matter on Facebook: a thread about the headship of the Commonwealth which was misunderstood by some as being about the succession to the throne. I tried, vainly, to explain the difference but withdrew from the conversation when I saw how violent and ill-informed some of the comments were. I daresay some were actionable; certainly they presumed a knowledge of the characters and personal lives of those they discussed that I very much doubt any of them had!

The second was, and is, the much more troubling matter of Alfie Evans and his treatment. I have read what I can, and thought and prayed. I would like it to be a simple matter, but it isn’t. I am made very uneasy by what appears to be the suppression of some salient facts (e.g. that Alfie has breathed on his own for some 30+ hours since the life-support was switched off, not just 3 minutes), by some of the underlying assumptions (e.g. on one side that he is ‘brain-dead’ so his life does not count; on the other, that an infinity of NHS resources can be lavished upon him) and by the wild accusations being made by some people (e.g. that a Fentonyl injection is to be given to kill him). There is also the disgraceful barracking of medical and nursing staff at Alder Hey. The plain truth is that I don’t really know what is going on, and in that I am not alone. I suspect very few people do know what is really going on since only a handful are aware of all the facts and have the necessary legal and medical understanding to assess them. Even so, mistakes can be made: experts are not omniscient, and how could a parent ever be indifferent to the suffering of his own child?

Where does that leave us this morning? I think it leaves us on our knees, with a tiny child struggling for life, unaware of the furious battles being raged over his head. There are no words, only a silence that must embrace everyone involved — a silence that proceeds from the bruised heart of God himself.

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