Thursday, March 31, 2005

Never the end

Terri has died.

I've been following this story for some years and discussing it on other boards, but I have been reluctant to talk about it here, mostly because I do feel strongly about it. Mostly I feel strongly that this is something that can and should be decided within a family or by the individual. I feel the Schindlers made a mistake in taking it so very, very public, but I understand in a small way what might have lead them to do it.

I don't know who is right -- Michael Schiavo, or the Schindlers, or any of the people weighing in on either side. I know I've heard and read a lot of bullshit surrounding this, and a lot of wisdom. I know my own beliefs, which is that death is an inevitable, irrevocable step in each life. It need not be hurried, but it should not be shied away from in fear. It cannot be cheated as yet, although we are capable of making people suffer so greatly they long for it.

I know that, for myself, were I in Terri's position, I would not have wanted 15 more years. I believe my soul would have been imprisoned in a body without a mind, and that would have been a Hell. I am not eager to die, but life at any cost, life in any circumstance, life no matter what -- that is not my choice or desire. If I cannot live my life doing, thinking, communicating, then I am dead.

I find those who claim a "culture of life" completely unbelievable. If every human life -- EVERY SINGLE ONE -- is precious, so precious we cannot afford to let it slip away no matter what, then we need to do far more in this world. We need to remove death penalties -- not just stand vigil, but lobby, campaign, and vote accordingly. We need to more vigorously protest war. We need to eliminate hunger and poverty and so many, many diseases. We need to cease killing those with whom we do not agree. We should not raise our hand against any other person.

Instead, what I see is a "culture of CERTAIN lives". Only some selected lives are precious. Some are not. The actual criteria changes depending on who is making the selections.

It is part of being human to prefer our own lives and the lives of those important to us over all others. This is, I think, built into our genes, built into our cells. The fight to survive, that is human, even if it means killing others not ourselves or not so important to us. That is human, in as much as we are animals and that is animal nature, but it is not necessarily the only thing about us, and perhaps not the best part to elevate.

We also fear death, terribly so. It is the great unknown. We fear death, some of us, so deeply that we cannot tolerate it at all, but again that fear is a personal one. To save our own lives from the death we fear, we will gladly toss others into that abyss.

We progress slowly, I think. It is complex, with many factors, including faith and finance. We aren't going to solve it in the courts or legislature or on the streets. It must be solved inside each person, every time a person faces it.

As for Terri, my beliefs say she is now free to progress to her next stage, that holding her here was no favor to her but balm only to those remaining behind. I have faith that this particular ending is not The End. It is never the end.

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