Thursday, March 31, 2005

In Vita Veritas

Ladies and Gentlemen, I request your undivided attention for the next few moments. What I wish to discuss if of vital importance to every human being alive or yet to be born. I have very strong feelings about this subject, although some of you may be surprised, once you have read this post.

Terri Schindler Schiavo has passed away.

Passed Away, an interesting turn of phrase. Conceived to soften the blow of this, the most final of all life events.

Now, don’t mis-understand me, I don’t intend to regale you with the myriad details of my personal opinion on this particular case. Quite frankly, my thoughts on this matter are complex, which should be expected, as this is a important and complex issue. The Cliff notes version:

This is NOT a Black/White, Right/Wrong issue. It is NOT obvious, as some on either side would have you believe.

It is NOT a matter of Ms. Schindler-Schiavo’s right to choose the way she leaves this mortal world. (She has that right.) It is rather whether, given her incapability of expressing that choice in her present condition, her actual wishes can be ascertained.

It is also not a matter of whether a legal guardian bearing power of attorney can make such a decision in situations such as this. As Mr. Schiavo’s attorney has said many times over the past two weeks, “feeding tubes are removed every day in this country”. Personal experience within my family has braced me to the bleak necessity of such decisions and I have the responsibility to make such decisions in the future, should the need arise. Where I do have a problem is in the demeanor and motivations of her legal husband/guardian. I am no attorney, but I do have what I like to believe is a keen reasoning ability. From all I have been able to discern from listening intently to both sides of this particular issue, I would sum-up by using a legal phrase: reasonable doubt.

And given any doubt in this matter, one MUST err on the side of the preservation of life.

But, as stated before, that is not my primary purpose for this entry.

This is not over. In point of fact, the really difficult part is just beginning.

We, as a society, have to decide what the true outcome of this decision will be.

Whether you like it or not, precedent has been set. Legal, moral, ethical and societal precedent.

The question is: Are we willing to walk down this particular path, or will we take steps to remedy the situation?

And this, my friends, is not just the much-invoked slippery-slope. This is a narrow and winding path along the edge of a very deep yawning chasm. You know the place of which I speak. If you have ever been profoundly depressed or deeply despairing you have seen it. It is there buried deep in your psyche. That hopeless void. That cliff at the edge of a meaningless futility that would pull you into itself like a black-hole of non-existence if it were not for a single spark. A will to turn from it’s threat of meaninglessness and live. A spark of life. A sense of hope. A will to experience everything this existence has to offer, before we step across the portal into whatever lies beyond.

The prime directive. The source. The reason for all that is reasonable.

Your very existence.

This is why we, YOU (whether you want it/realize it/recognize it/desire it) and I, form into what we have come to call society. If you are deprived of this primal right, you have no redress, save my action to right that wrong. Every other right that stems from this fount of every blessing, this in-estimable gift, can be at least addressed should that right be infringed. All save this. This is why we surrender some of those rights to the entity we call government. Granting said government authority to adjudicate this most important decision. To make decisions of life and death. Because we, as a society, have this most solemn responsibility to one another.

Many in agreement with the legal decision allowing the removal of food and water claimed that this should be a private matter and when elected representatives passed legislation on this matter, that the ‘government’ had no business intruding. As if the court systems are not an integral branch of government.

I personally heard others, opposed to these legal actions, make comments on the radio that were shockingly callous. This is not a political decision and political consequences are negated by the primacy of this issue. Likewise, the commentator who continually asked “how much are you willing to pay in taxes to support people in this condition” just does not GET IT.

My question to you is, do you get it?

Do you have a reasoned informed opinion of this matter?

Have you truly thought this through?

How far do we go? What constitutes a life not worth living? It is not surprising at all to me that disabled people rallied to the side of Terri’s parent’s. They fear where this decision could lead. If you do not fear this, you are a fool. We often hear that we are all one or two paychecks away from homelessness. Every time you leave your home. No, every time you get out of bed. No, even lying in bed, you could fall ill. No matter what life-style you live. No matter what your age.

My oldest daughter has Type-1 Diabetes. She is dependent on multiple daily injections in order to live. For the foreseeable future this is her fate. Is she being kept alive by ‘artificial’ means? Yes, she is, as the latest, most modern insulins are all synthetic. Too far fetched? Really? How many of you would feel squeamish when presented with a similar need to endure multiple injections and pricking your fingers for blood tests before every meal?

There is a continuum that starts with Terri’s condition and ends with people with various treatable diseases on the other.

Where along that continuum do we land?

Do you think that non-elected judges are immune to legislation passed by elected officials?

That any branch of government is immune to the will of the governed?

When the founders of this nation found themselves in profound dis-agreement with the British crown, they signed a document that was both a Declaration of their Independence, but also a covenant of what that new independence would entail.

We are all members of that covenant.

Need I remind you of some of the key points?

“truths to be self-evident”

“in-alienable rights”

“that AMONG these rights are LIFE, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”

Note they enumerated SOME, not all of the rights. And notice the choices. It all begins with LIFE.

So, What is your position? Why? On What Basis? What Circumstances?

Where exactly do you stand?

And finally:

I don’t really expect any of you to be still reading this blog, let alone this particular post, but in the unlikely event you are:

Some of you may be saying “Oh, I’m not political…”

Listen to me very carefully, I am totally serious.

You are a leech. You are willing to partake of the many benefits and enjoy the myriad rights afforded you by virtue of your citizenship in this great country, but refuse the responsibilities.

But in this particular matter you don’t GET to pass the buck.

If you can’t be bothered to participate in this debate you don’t DESERVE to live within this largesse.



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