I've been a long-time reader of this site and have found it everything from informative to entertaining... but I'm now posting because I'm craving the ears (or eyes, I guess) of people who understand.
My mother was just last week diagnosed with an "ovarian type" cancer. The oncologist discussed with her how far the cancer has already spread, and said she would operate immediately to remove as much of it as possible, but would not proceed if my mother resisted a transfusion as the risk of blood-loss will be too great. My mother, a JW of 61 years (since her baptism at nine), refused blood, as predicted.
For years my mother and I have had hermeneutic debates about WT doctrine, and it has so often come back to the blood issue - why are blood fractions allowed without sanctions? What are blood fractions if not blood? Who would blood fractions come from if not blood donors? And so on... you can imagine. It's been a point of contention because my sister died refusing blood (she had leukemia), and although the doctors (apparently - I didn't hear any of this being only nine at the time) commented that blood wouldn't have saved her, it would at least have created the possibility of prolonging her life. Of course, we can't know for how long, if at all, but my mother has always favoured the idea that it wouldn't have made any difference.
In light of this, I think it's even more unlikely that she would ever waver on this issue, should she miraculously come to understand that the GB are merely humans, having not only interpreted the bible their own way but also imposed their own arbitrary rules upon their followers - in essence, that she's doing obeisance to men rather than god. This great quote from Tolstoy encapsulates the reasons that someone might not want to see reality: I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives. Having taught this doctrine to others for 60+ years, including to her children - one of whom died faithfully advocating it - it isn't really any wonder that she can't see (or admit) its hypocrisy, even if there's evidence right in front of her.
She asked me to watch a WT video about patient rights and medical treatment (I already can't remember what it was called), and, under duress, I did, making notes all the while. However, the video seemed only to make the following points:
- patients should have the right to choose their own treatment, with which most people would completely concur (and is an argument that could also be used to support euthanasia, for example, but if this topic emerged the rules would then change and those same quotes from professors of medical ethics would never be used)
- there are risks involved with blood transfusions (which just seems like scare-mongering with no statistics given to show the difference between transfusion success-rates in developed countries compared to third-world countries)
- medical treatment, including non-blood treatment, is more effective now than it once was, with a higher success rate (of course it is - this is what comes from time and research)
What nearly knocked me over, though, was the sudden mention halfway through of the UN (presented in a favourable light) and its advocacy of patient autonomy. It sounded suspiciously like "promoting the UN charter" to me, as the WTBS was once required to do to retain their NGO status (which explains so many WT articles, in hindsight). However, this video was released in 2002, by which point I thought they'd had their NGO status revoked, which I found perplexing.
This was of particular interest to me, as on my first trip to New York I went to Bethel to do the tour (for reasons that will become obvious), and when we arrived at the "Department of Public Information" (a closed door) I asked if this is where someone could find out about the relationship between the WTBS and the UN as regards their former NGO status. I said I'd read about it in a British newspaper. The lady who was taking the tour remained extremely polite and cordial and told me that upon conclusion of the tour she would bring me back to this department in order for me to ask my question. At the end of the tour, I was deposited at the front desk and told to address my question there. I asked it. The man, who had previously been very friendly, turned sour-faced, asked me if I was familiar with the "official website of Jehovah's Witnesses," and told me everything I needed to know could be found there. I couldn't believe that they not only failed to take me to the so-called "Department of Public Information," but that they referred me to their own website, knowing full-well that I would find nothing of the NGO debacle on it. For all they knew I could have been from the media, and instead of trying to present something to redeem themselves, they deflected, which displayed an obvious inability to answer the question.
Anyhow, that was a complete side-issue, but certainly one of the hypocrisies I've been trying to point out to my mother for years now (all the JW issues feed into other issues, as a single lie, regardless of what it's about, is enough to call the whole organisation into question). My mother and I have a lovely relationship, in that she still talks to me (because I never got baptised, therefore never got disfellowshipped), and though she can't technically call me an "apostate" she's encouraged by her close network of JW friends not to associate with me. But she does. She's a beautiful lady. I'm worried for her, and it's infuriating to encounter this particularly painful issue, and the awful realisation about what it means for her in terms of giving herself the best chance to rid herself of cancer. They will pursue chemo if they are able (they need to do a laparoscopy to determine what kind of cancer it is), and they hope that the chemo will shrink the cancer enough so that they can do a more conservative operation without needing to use blood.
All this being said, she's very strong, she doesn't complain, and maybe her faith is actually helping. Optimism and hope seem to be so indicative of a person's bodily health and strength, and I really think that optimistic people have a much better chance of healing than someone who believes a situation is hopeless. And ultimately, I suppose this is the need that religion fills under the guise of "spirituality." People need to have faith in something. Maybe I should leave the issue alone now, and let her be strong, let her believe that she'll see her daughter again, and let her enjoy her network of JW "support" and just be there for her. I've often thought about whether I'd be taking away her hope and happiness if I did convince her to turn away from this religion, and whether that would really be a cruelty instead of a kindness. I still can't help but think it's always better to be free, but maybe that's just me. I'm sure she believes she's already free, and maybe she is.
Thank you, anyone who has bothered to read this.