Thursday, March 24, 2005

Always Listen to My Mother - I Wish Terri Had

"Is there life before death?" Graffito

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the Terri Schiavo story. It's the same feeling I had about Lacy Peterson and Chandra Levy -- remember the missing DC congressional intern before 9/11 knocked her off the front pages? All three were presumably private people who wouldn't have wanted their intimate personal lives revealed in excruciating detail for all the world to see.

One could argue it's too late for Lacy, and probably Chandra; they're beyond the pain of public humiliation. My ambivalence on that score has to do with the preservation of basic human dignity, even upon death. And with the fact that millions of people die horribly, in obscurity, every day. Why give Lacy, Chandra and Terri so much more than their 15 minutes of fame, and conversely, why ignore the suffering of so many others?

And there's my bigger problem with the firestorm surrounding Terri Schiavo. By every objective medical standard and definition, Mrs. Schiavo's brain is permanently and unequivocally damaged. So much so that she is unable to feel shame or humiliation at the gross invasion of her privacy by the current political frenzy surrounding her fate.


Yet she's a human being, not a science experiment. And every time the videos of this tragically impaired woman appear on the news, I cringe. We have entered her room without knocking, caught her metaphysically naked. And her own parents have invited us in, out of a desperately misguided hope we will believe she is cognitively aware and thus worth saving.

My heart goes out to these bereft and frantic people. But if they truly believe she is conscious of her surroundings, how can they possibly subject her to such horrendous public scrutiny? And who are they trying to convince?


Surely not the President of the United States of Christianity, whose own moral compass is so skewed he'll fight for a media-created martyr but allow funds to lapse for treatment of brain damaged soldiers sent to fight in a trumped up war. Surely not the presumptuous, megalomaniacal, morally bankrupt members of Congress who have joined this circus and are equally, outrageously ignoring troops in need.

Terri Schiavo is not a public figure or a monument to medical justice -- she's a private citizen, one of hundreds of thousands of irreparably unsalvageable people whose families struggle every day with gut wrenching decisions. Yet decisions are made, "plugs" are pulled. (GWB and his Bully Boys should only show such courage.) And if there are disagreements, there is recourse in the courts. Mrs. Schivo's fate, like that of anyone else in the same position, rests properly and clearly within the judicial system, if her family chooses to take it there. And if the court chooses to accept the case.

My mother is fortunately still hale and hearty and of sound mind and body. She is also a realist, and has an advanced directive to make her wishes clear. We could all learn from her wisdom. As she says, "If anything happens to me, prolong my life, not my death."

I wish Terri Schiavo had written that down somewhere.

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2 Comments:

Blogger ShellBug526 said...

I enjoyed reading your blog, it is well written and deals with things that matter, but not copied and pasted form a news page. I look forward to reading more of it.

4:55 PM  
Blogger smartblonde said...

You do have a point- but shouldn't Terri just be put out of her misery? She doesn't have much time to live. What gets me is that they'd arrest a little boy for protesting. Parent's shouldnt' get their kids involved in this kind of thing.

4:01 PM  

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