Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, March 31, 2005

In Memory of Terri Schiavo

As trivial as my voice might be, nonetheless honor had me wait until now to voice my opinion about the events of the final days of this woman and the maelstrom of acts, arguments and caterwauling we have witnessed through this latest portal into the sickness of public America.

I think David Brooks would have appreciated that opportunity as well, as his op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times seemed less than enthusiastic, par exemple:
What I'm describing here is the clash of two serious but flawed arguments. The socially conservative argument has tremendous moral force, but doesn't accord with the reality we see when we walk through a hospice. The socially liberal argument is pragmatic, but lacks moral force.

No wonder many of us feel agonized this week, betwixt and between, as that poor woman slowly dehydrates.

Here is a champion of non-relativism stuck on the horns of a dilemma. If the common perception becomes that there is no demonstrable wrong or right in this case, might this perception find its way into the other moral arguments of our day as well? This is not a Pandora’s Box a cautious David Brooks is likely to approach, let alone open.

So what of this “morally forceful” social conservative argument? Initially the emphasis was variously applied to the concepts “right to life”, “sanctity of human life” or some such. The difficulty with this argument is that many—though not all—social conservatives support capital punishment and/or military aggression. If the premise is that the essence of life is trump then it is trump over all suits. To put to death any soul, however despicable, is to renege.

This is strong rebuttal. In consideration of it the Christian right has adapted the argument to apply to “innocent” life, but the necessity of this lot of self-proclaimed sinners assuming God’s role in the assessment of innocence in order to make exception to one of His commandments does very little to improve their argument.

Radicals will always claim license in their dismissal of inconsistency or hypocrisy, and I don’t disagree with the necessity of doing so. However, as arguments are extended—and this is about as far out on the limb the right to life folks have ventured—they risk losing momentum with the sympathetic. Moral crusaders often remind me of a campaign promoting defensive driving the National Highway Safety people used to run. The crux of it was the closer, “He was right, dead right.” As a matter of survival caution, vision and flexibility cannot be abandoned along the side of the true path.

Above I spoke of support of capital punishment and offensively directed warfare, exceptions claimed by those who believe that protection of essential human life is to be an absolute upon which our ethic and, ostensibly, our law is to be structured. There are apparently other exceptions to consider.

The “sanctity” of marriage is another postulation for which the righteous reserve the right to apply or hold in reserve at their will. To criticism of this flip-flopping they reply that Terri Schiavo’s husband ceded his role as her décideur because he had found the company of another woman. I am certain that my wife would expect me to do the same. Would this truth already qualify our marriage for disassembly by the ideal of the fundamentalists?

There are similar inconsistencies; the arguments were equally as porous as good old Monroe, Wisconsin Swiss cheese. I knew it, David Brooks knew it, and the social conservatives knew it. Hence emotionalism replaced argument, as the misrepresentation that Terri was being “starved to death” was driven home again and again. Are others considered strangled to death when respirators are turned off?

It surprises people when I refer to myself as a religious person. What I believe in is not so difficult to sort out as “thou shalt not kill”; “vengeance is mine, sayeth the lord”; “an eye for and eye”; etc. My religion doesn’t define God, speak for God, or even care to consider the nature of God. It requires no pastors, pipe organs, publications, crystal cathedrals, relationships with God, nor Bible schools. One needs little memory as it is encapsulated in only 11 words.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Over and over again I heard, “What if she were your daughter?” The point is rather, “What if she were you?”
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
15 years since the loss of your personality.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
15 years unaware of external sensation.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
15 years of strife among your family
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
15 years of being plastered across the media in your hideous state.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
What if she were you? This time, enough good men and women have been allowed to respond with circumspect. Barely.


At 8:58 PM, Blogger Bullock said...

I am relieved that Ms. Schiavo has finally ended her agony because in my opinion that's what it was. I thought long and hard about her situation because it was one of those benchmark moments in time when you needed to do just that, regardless of your standing in life. I was truly sorry she got into that situation because of her eating disorders and was surprised when more wasn't made of that. Nobody likes to hear about personal responsibility until after the fact.
Bush, DeLay and co. didn't contemplate however. They came down hard on the "arrogant, corrupt judiciary" for their actions in this case. They're just pissed Gov. Jeb couldn't control his judges better.What hypocrites!
But, I think you made your way to the heart of the matter, Sequiot, with the words of the Golden Rule.Whatever your faith, sect or belief, these words hold a key, maybe the key, to living and ultimately, to dying.More spiritual than religious in a secular nature but good words nonetheless to make us contemplate and think about our actions before woodenly and sometimes, stupidly, reacting.Think about others first as you would have them think about you.

Well spoken, mi amigo. One of your best.


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