One of Canada's icons passed away yesterday. June Callwood: journalist, author, and humanitarian extraordinaire died after gallantly losing her fight with cancer.
Normally, I don't blog about these things. I never met her, like many bloggers who have written tributes have. I never read any of her books either. But then again, I haven't read many of anyone's books:) I'm writing this because her life and death completely contradicts many of the assumptions made by theists regarding atheists.
A quick biography from FICCDAT:
"Known as "Canada's Conscience," June Callwood's career has been marked by compassion and a strong concern for social justice, especially on issues affecting children and women. A prolific and versatile author, she has written more than 30 books and countless magazine articles. Her career in television has included the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program In Touch (1975-78), and the recent Caregiving with June Callwood, a program that provides assistance to people caring for parents, spouses or others.
Despite a busy writing life, she has also founded and co-founded more than 50 social action organizations, including Nellie's hostel for women, Jessie's, a centre for teenage parents, Casey House Hospice for AIDS patients, and PEN Canada. Her extensive volunteer work has been recognized by many honours including the Order of Canada (1986), and "Woman of the Year," B'nai B'rith, (1969). She is an Honourary Marching Mother of Ontario March of Dimes."
Here is her last interview. I believe it was done around a month ago:
Of note, she has accepted death, and contrary to the old theist claim that atheists become believers when death approaches, she is very firm that there is no God and no afterlife. And she is completely fine with it.
She made a point about being in her 80's and accepting death. I think this is part of the evolution process too. My guess is that most people in their 80's and 90's who are dying, are just content with the idea of dying regardless of beliefs or lack thereof. The body and mind is content with the idea that their time has come just like the spider Charlotte, and she wasn't even one years old.
She also made mention of the fact that humans almost have the need to do good for each other. It makes us satisfied. And we don't need to buy into a religion and their doctrines to "hold a door open for one another." Our morality and ethics don't come from God; we evolved them. And those who do not consider God, don't go out and rape and pillage. That is just theist baloney. We are hardwired so that if we do something good for someone, we get a bit of a rush in our brains, and subconsciously (and/or consciously) we know there is also a good chance that the other person will do something good because of your act. For social animals likes humans, this behaviour helps our species live to see a next generation.
She was married to the same man, sportswriter Trent Frayne, for 62 years. How many theists can make the same claim?
She went through tragedy when her youngest son died at 20 in a car crash. A drunk driver killed him. She went on to turn it into a positive (as best anyone could) by founding a now famous Aids hospice in her son's name: The Casey House. A longer biography and tribute can be found at their website here.
Upon doing a blog search, I found a tribute to her by a believer. The last paragraph is disturbing:
"Her end of life discussion was sad for she is an atheist. I wish her the best as she goes on to the next life. I will pray for her."
Oh, I get it. Her next life will be in hell, despite how good a person she was on earth. That is why she needs you to pray for her. And how will your praying help her? Got that one figured out yet?
Actually, that comment by the theist was very sad.