WORLD RIGHT-TO-DIE NEWSLETTER Issue No. 32
Issue No. 32
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Quality groups around the globe
by Hugh Wynne, world president 1996-98
Now that the dust has settled on my return, I am taking a moment to write about my visit with Eve during March 1998 to a number of member societies. My tour purpose was one of mutual information and motivation, and I must say that, without exception, we were greeted with enthusiasm, kindness and generosity. We were sorry that we could not stay longer in so many interesting places with such wonderful people. Our warmest thanks are directed to all we met and who supported us.
The world trip as a whole has left us gratified, encouraged and humbled. Everyone was supportive & kind throughout. We expected no less, and we were much impressed by the enthusiasm shown, & the gift of time by many right-to-die people.
A few ideas and thoughts on our common cause which emerged include:
* the continuing problem that, collectively, our democratic political leaders seem consistently to ignore the popular majority view (which is typically 80% in favour of the right to die in appropriate circumstances);
* that many doctors support this right also;
* that a constant watch needs to be kept on the media for opportunities to present our case, to challenge our opponents and their deceptions;
* that some RTD Societies maintain letter writers' and speakers' groups organised and ready to spring into action;
* that co-operation between RTD societies can be motivating, and can conserve and increase available campaign resources.
After flying from Britain by the "Siberian Route" to Tokyo, Japan, it was a great pleasure and relief to have been booked by Ken Minami of the Japan Society for Dying in Dignity into the excellent Palace Hotel.
Ken arranged for me to visit the JSDD office in a small modern block in central Tokyo. I was able to speak to their Society's supporters, board, and staff, to view their administrative, computer, & filing systems (including a whole wall of cabinets devoted to storage of all the living will documents deposited by their members), and to show to them the completed, engraved, solid silver George Saba Medal, prior to handing it over to Marshall Perron.
I was also able to speak with an invited representative of the Japanese press, who was due to relocate to London later this year.
That evening, we were entertained most graciously to dinner with some of the JSDD Board. They had booked a private dining room at a traditional Japanese restaurant, where the meal was cooked especially for us right at the dining table.
Cairns, Queensland, Australia
After leaving Japan early in the morning by Qantas, flying to Cairns, North Queensland, Australia, we were met by the President of the robust VES Cairns Branch Robbie Payne, and Pam Payne. Robbie & his committee demonstrated their support with a roomfull of VESQ Cairns members over buffet lunch. Robbie was also kind enough to show us North Queensland, including a visit to the tropical rain forest and driving by the Great Barrier Reef.
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
We then visited Darwin, overflying the Gulf of Carpenteria. It was an honour to be greeted at the airport by Marshall & Cherry Perron. The visit provided an opportunity to meet Marshall (former Chief Minister of NT, and pilot of the sadly short-lived Rights of the Terminally Ill Act ), the NT VES Committee others. I was able to present Marshall with the silver George Saba Medal. (I was also able to hand Marshall a document, prepared specially by Michio Arakawa of JSDD, explaining the background to Dr George Saba, the Japan Society for Dying in Dignity, the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, and the George Saba Medal. ) Marshall was most hospitable and generous with his time and trouble over our brief visit.
Adelaide, South Australia
We flew on to Adelaide, South Australia, and stayed with World Federation Vice-President Mary Gallnor. In a full day there, we met SAVES members and enjoyed lunch and conversation with the Committee of this strongly motivated, well organised campaigning Society. After this, we were taken on tour by Mary, who showed us the countryside & acquainted us thoroughly with both traditional & modern aspects of Adelaide.
Wellington, New Zealand
We then visited New Zealand, to be met at Wellington airport by Frank Dungey and Colin Clark of VES. In the evening, we dined with several of the VES Committee. That same evening, we visited some (paternal) Wynne cousins in Wellington, whom I had not seen for 30 years.
The following morning, we took a bus tour of Wellington. Then, after a short visit to hear Parliament debate (not on VE), then entertained to lunch in the Parliament building by NZ MPs Barnett and Robson, who are sympathetic to our cause, along with Frank, Colin and VES President Lisa Thompson. VES takes good advantage of its Parliamentary connections in the Capital.
Auckland, New Zealand
Landing late afternoon, we were met and hosted by (maternal) Anderson cousins, whom I had not seen for 16 years. The following morning, we met Jack Jones, spokesman of VES Auckland, who showed us the Society's neat office & "shop" facilities in a smart suburban arcade. This puts VES clearly "on the map" & may bring passing custom and new members. Jack and I then made a small broadcast contribution on Radio Pacific. After this, Jack took us to see some of Auckland's sights and vantage points, then for a traditional pub lunch by the railway.
Vancouver, British Columbia
We flew over the Pacific Ocean, changing planes at Los Angeles, to Vancouver. We met over lunch next day the committees of both "Goodbye" and "Surrey - White Rock Choice in Dying Society", the two WF member societies in the city. It was good to meet campaigners from these two small and active societies. We chanced to find that Svend Robinson, a Vancouver MP and strong supporter of the RTD campaign, was lunching at the table next to us all. He was kind enough to join us for a while.
I had been able to make two further brief broadcasts, one from my hotel room early morning and another from the studios of CKNW later in the day. There is a growing interest in the possibility of forming a Canada-wide (I would hope even an American) "umbrella" RTD organisation. I pointed out that this might form a division of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, as envisaged by the WF constitution.
Seattle, Washington State, USA
We left Vancouver, BC, Canada for Seattle, WA, USA by the "Quick Shuttle" bus, which was very convenient, despite heavy customs formalities at the USA border. We were met by Richard and Midge Levy. Midge, who is President of the Washington State Hemlock Chapter, had invited us to stay in the guest cottage in their garden on the shore of Lake Washington.
After a tour in his motor-boat, with Richard pointing out the sights, we had an excellent lunch and meeting in the lovely Levy home. This was attended not only by a number of the Washington State Hemlock Chapter's Board but also by members of Compassion in Dying based in Seattle and Michael Bonacci, Director of Compassion in Dying in Seattle.
Subsequently, Michael took us to his office to meet his team and for continued discussion of RTD issues. We then saw something of touristic Seattle before returning to the Levys. Next morning, Midge-and Richard took us to the station for the train to Sacramento. The accommodation on-board was splendid.
The train journey to Sacramento took about 24 hours. With very considerate planning, Paddy & Richard MacDonald (Medical Director of Hemlock) were able to meet us there on arrival and have lunch. I had met Richard 18 months earlier at the World Federation conference Melbourne, so I was eager to renew our acquaintance. Our meeting was excellent but short, before a further scheduled departure by train.
Denver, Colorado, USA
We were met at the station in Denver by Faye Girsh, Director of Hemlock, & she looked after us warmly. The Oxford Hotel, which Faye had recommended, was very close by. Her efficient arrangements were much appreciated. It was a great pleasure also to meet Faye & Emory in their delightful home in a skyscraper block with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains.
We visited the Hemlock offices to meet the dedicated people there. It is always interesting to me to see how other organisations work. There are so many similarities and so many differences, such as the need to campaign, to recruit & maintain members, the importance of good organisation and record keeping, plus the vital role of the societys workers.
This was followed by lunch with Faye and some of her team at a nearby Chinese Restaurant. We then returned to tour Denver, including a most enjoyable horse-drawn carriage ride with Emory & Faye, before walking to the station for an evening overnight train.
On arrival the next evening, we commenced an unencumbered leisure day in Chicago, a fascinating city that we had both long wanted to visit. After 24 hours in the "Windy City", we took another overnight train to New York.
New York, NY
Before leaving New York to fly home, we had arranged to meet Joann and Sidney Rosoff. Sidney is one of the founders of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies. Despite a busy professional life, he had been making a TV broadcast recording for the BBC on right to die matters that afternoon.
After drinks in the Rainbow Room on floor 69 of the Rockefeller Centre, we went for a convivial meal & conversation at a favourite restaurant in East Side Manhattan. It was a great pleasure to meet these old friends and dedicated campaigners.
The next day, before flying home to Britain, we explored some of Manhattan on foot, including walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. I am a great admirer of the dedication & pioneering engineering involved in its construction.
All whom we met showed a deep commitment to humanity amd human kind, routinely giving willingly of their energy, time, skills, money, and other resources. It is important to see such efforts directed to our common cause.
We are a respectable world movement; let us continue to strive to succeed in our shared aims for the benefit of all who wish for individual rights and choices at the end of meaningful life.] Acknowledgement
Finally, may I acknowledge with deep gratitude the funding of presidential activities on behalf of the World Federation by the Japan Society for Dying in Dignity. Their monetary support to the World Federation has helped throughout my term of office, and in part made this world trip possible.
Minoo Masani, who in the early l980s was active in the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, and was its president l984-86, has died at his home in Bombay, India. A politician and author, he died on May 27 aged 92. He was born on November 20, 1905.
A barrister, publicist and one of the most acerbic and eloquent parliamentarians of his generation, Minoo Masani was, above all, India's leading advocate of free enterprise at a time when socialism and autarky were decidedly more fashionable economic creeds. At his death he was also one of the last surviving members of the Constituent Assembly that wrote India's Constitution between 1946 and 1949.
Born in Bombay - the centre of India's influential Parsi community - Minoo Masani graduated from the city's Elphinstone College before reading law at the London School of Economics. In 1928 he was called to the Bar by Lincoln's Inn. After a brief stint in jail during the Quit India movement, he won Bombay's mayoral elections in 1943 on a Congress ticket.
He was elected in 1945 to the Indian Legislative Assembly, which subsequently converted itself into the Constituent Assembly, and he plunged into the work of drafting India's Constitution. After a brief stint as India's Ambassador to Brazil, Masani returned to Parliament in 1949.
A tireless writer, Masani was the author of more than 15 books and tracts.
Towards the end of his life, he became a passionate advocate of euthanasia and campaigned for a change in the Indian laws.