Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Rich vs the Dying in British Columbia

What kind of a monster can possibly oppose the building of a terminal care facility? Well, apparently a rich one. Most people thought that building a hospice at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada was a great idea, but the owners of expensive condos in a nearby building disagreed:
A plan to build a hospice at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver has run into opposition from luxury condo owners nearby. The proposal calls for a 15-bed palliative care facility, called St. John Hospice, to be built next to a high-rise condominium building called the Promontory.
The cost of a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom condo in the building is $1,599,000, which is a lot for Canada. It seems like the owners of these luxury condos believe that the dying people should remove themselves as far away from them as possible in order not to mar the rich people's enjoyment of existence.
In itself, this story is not surprising. We are used to gated communities, to the perennially growing hysterical desire of the rich to isolate themselves from. . . well, life and everything that defines it. Since death is an inescapable attribute of every life, it is not remarkable that the rich in Vancouver should want to pretend to themselves that their money will allow them to buy their way out of a coffin and go on living forever. What's curious in this case is how readily the condo owners' opposition to the creation of a hospice has been blamed on some of them being Chinese:
One condo owner said most residents in the building are of Asian descent and believe living close to a hospice will bring bad luck. "In Chinese culture, we are against having dying people in your backyard," said Janet Fan, who has signed a petition against the hospice. "We cannot accept this. It's against our belief, against our culture. It's not culturally sensitive." Fan also said many residents worry about additional traffic and having to discuss the subject of death with their children.
As I predicted the other day, we will be hearing such stories about big, bad, scary, mean Chinese who abuse children and refuse the terminally ill the right to die with dignity more and more often. I don't know if Ms. Fan really said something this monstrous, and if she did, whether anybody in her building agreed with such a nasty worldview. But I have no doubt that such stories will do nothing to quell the rising anti-Chinese sentiments in North America.

1 comment:

Tom Carter said...

This sounds more like a typical case of NIMBY (not in my back yard) than anything else. It doesn't matter whether it's liberals, conservatives, or members of any particular race or ethnic group. It's most ironic when something people generally favor suddenly appears in their own neighborhood, and then they're strongly against it. It can be attributed to people being selfish or narrow-minded, I suppose, but it's really nothing more than a human instinct to protect yourself and your family within your personal space. It's part of human nature.