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VESS Newsletter Profile

John Beloff

Occasionally there comes to VESS a rock upon which the future rests and grows. One such rock is John Beloff. A psychologist with a deep interest in philosophy, he was drawn to the v.e. debate through his interest in psychical research (a subject on which he is now considered an authority). "Both topics put one on one's metal to prove one's position," he says. Beloff claims he hates quarrels but enjoys disputes: "If you make enemies you can't have a dispute; rather than denouncing them loudly, it makes more sense to persuade those opposed to euthanasia by the sweet light of reason."

In his thirteen years in the movement, Beloff has commanded world-wide respect and affection. On the committee, he has been Chairman and Treasurer, and his years as the former were marked by a harmony and absence of the opposing factions so common to committees. He developed the Newsletter into a regular and respected publication, fuelled by articles from a wide range of eminent speakers and writers. When there were no funds, Beloff would hold meetings in his own house. But his work has not been limited to extensive public talks. He has written extensively on v.e. and has regularly lectured to medical students about it at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Unlike most committee members, Beloff however has been able to work at all levels, including the actual day-to-day work in a campaign organisation. For his efforts in manning the VESS Office twice a week, he was given the working appellation Honorary Secretary, backing up the work of the paid staff by contributing voluntary assistance on a regular, reliable basis.

At the end of one of the longest standing commitments to VESS, John Beloff will this year be resigning from active committee work and from the editing of the Newsletter, not from disillusionment but with the feeling that VESS is in safe hands and that he has served long enough. Now in his 76th year, a humanist who draws strength from the lives of great people he admires, what advice would Beloff offer those that keep up the struggle? "Don't lose heart, you are bound to have disappointments. Keep plugging at it!"

A new article by John Beloff appears in the next issue of EXIT Newsletter.

John Beloff - writings on v.e can be found in EXIT Newsletter, eg Jan 1988, Do We Have a Duty to Die? Published work also includes Do We Have a Right to Die? in Perspectives on Death and Dying, Cross-Cultural and Multidisciplinary Views. A biographical profile can be found in VESS Newsletter April 1985.  

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