Terry Schiavo is dead and all of us who participated in making her death a public spectacle worthy of the Roman Empire at its most disgusting should be ashamed. And I do mean everybody.
For starts, the politicians from both sides of the aisle who abandoned all pretenses of high moral ground and fed into the howling mob on the hope of banking political capital for the future. Will any of us soon forget Senator Dr. Bill Frist contradicting overwhelming medical evidence to the contrary and making his own diagnosis based on a few minutes of video footage?
How easily the Republicans seemingly have forgotten their devotion to the ideal of state’s rights. How quickly the Democrats have forgotten any principles they may have ever held about the right of an individual to a modicum of privacy in their lives as they raced to score points with the Christian right.
And then there’s President Bush who signed a bill in Texas that allows doctors to remove life support from a person against the family’s wishes if that person’s existence is dependent on public financing. Is life only sacred if you can afford to pay the price for it? Do those people in Texas whose plugs are being pulled because of this law have less of a right to life than Mrs. Schiavo did?
And let’s not forget the family’s “religious advisers” who took a painful, private battle into the public arena by posturing for the cameras every chance they got. They claim to represent a god who promises a heaven in the afterlife but were not willing to let this poor woman pass peacefully to that reward for so long as they thought they could get another 5 minutes on the national news.
And who can forget Jesse Jackson, who suddenly and opportunistically showed up on Easter to try and participate in a communion service for Mrs. Schiavo. Is there a camera this man is not willing to pander to? Why, at the very end of this sad spectacle, was he trying to insinuate himself into it? Did it suddenly occur to him that he was missing out on a lot of free press?
Of course, we could have had none of this pandering without the media’s relentless coverage of this personal family tragedy. Had their coverage not been so overpowering, maybe Mrs. Schiavo would have had the chance of some dignity in her death. Instead, the media helped turn it into a three ring circus by flogging the story so hard and relentlessly that it all but wiped the news of the war off the front page of newspapers and into the fourth or fifth story on national TV news. You remember the war, don’t you? It’s that painful thing happening in Iraq that used to make headlines.
Finally, every single blessed one of us who read every article, listened to every news report, went on line regularly for the latest updates, share the blame. Ask yourself, do you have any idea how many of our soldiers were killed or maimed in the Mid-east while you salaciously followed every dirty little detail of this family’s tragedy?
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting more than a little nervous over just how much control the federal government is trying to exert over the most personal decisions of my life. The current trend in government seems to be to get the feds out of the boardroom and into the bedroom.
Make no mistake about it, the right to life is a sacred one. The fact that modern medicine has led us into areas that beg for a clarification of the meaning of the word “life” tells me that we need to seriously examine this issue. But that cannot be done as part of a three-ring media spectacle.
For myself, I’m not sure if there is any afterlife. But I am sure that I would never want to be denied the chance to find out because modern medicine had found a way to keep my body alive while my brain was dead. I don’t want my spirit tied to a useless organ when the possibility exists that it could be soaring aloft to join what so many of this world’s religions tell me is a merciful and good god.
The real question is, if all those people are so darn sure there is an afterlife and it’s wonderful, why are they so reluctant to let someone in Mrs. Schiavo’s condition reach it?