Monday, March 21, 2005

On Terri Schiavo,life, God and all points in between

I’m deeply perturbed by all the coverage the Terri Schiavo case has received in the media recently. It has been extremely difficult for me to neglect the glaring oversight in all the pontificating the pundits have been volleying. Over the past three days, I’ve been waiting for someone, anyone, to draw the only sensible conclusion that can be made of this supposed controversy. To my dismay, the sagacious opinionates have failed in their ability to elevate their observations beyond the myopicism of uneducated people.
What we’ve heard is a whole lot of political and legal jargon mired in between furious allegations of being extreme this or the other. Many in the blogosphere have slammed the conservative right for taking advantage of Terri Schiavo and her family for their own political mileage. Put in really stark terms the critics charge, “The far right has made Terri Schiavo the ‘Lacy Peterson’ distraction from their gaping mistakes (i.e. the budget deficit, social security, bankruptcy bill etc.)” How else do you explain the exo-legislative judicial forays undertaken by both the Florida and national legislators in the past couple of weeks?
Legal experts have voiced their displeasure with the encroachment by the government in a “private family affair” (depending on how you define all the terms in that phrase) and the disregard for due judicial process in articles like this one. Meanwhile ethicists and altruists call out the hypocrisy blatantly apparent through the whole episode; legislators are willing lose sleep over one person who’s been comatose for over a decade, yet they can’t be moved enough to considering a bill for thousands in abject poverty, without health insurance only minutes from the hallways of Capitol Hill, and millions of Sudanese killed in the Dafur genocide and beyond in broad daylight! It is reported that President Bush was woken up at 1:11 am to sign the bill into law. I can’t help but wonder if he’s ever woken at this ungodly hour for the hundreds that are sleeping homeless on our streets, or to console the families of the brave souls lost in War against Terror. Hmmmm, wonder what makes this case that important….
Led by Terri’s parents, those in favor of the extraordinary measures taken to preserve Terri’s life argue that keeping her alive is the only hope for any medical miracle. Ending her life would wipe that hope away in one foul swoop and that’s the impetus behind their efforts. They also add that Terri’s husband Michael who has a child with a girlfriend only has his selfish interests at heart. They allege that since he’s the benefactor of Terri’s estate, he stands to rake thousands of dollars recently awarded to Terri in a recent lawsuit. To press this point they wonder why he hasn’t previously agitated for the ending of her life in years past. He counters that she told him that if she ever ended up like she is right now, she wanted to die. Michael lambasts the politicians for interfering with a private family affair instead of concerning themselves with issues of national prominence.
The issue here is not light; it’s a stark matter that strikes a discordant note in our self-sufficient idealism. At the heart of the Terri Schiavo controversy is the distant echo that life is bigger than any one person’s intentions, political agendas, and all moral debates. That is a truth no one is willing to concede. The real question in this matter is who decides when to end a life. Biblical and common sense dictate that you cannot end a life you did not author. God is the only one who decides when to end a life.
As much as you and I have no control over where and when our lives began, none of us has a right to determine when another individual’s life must end. Say what you want, the only person who has a right to end a life can only be the force that started that life. We like Job’s friends are disillusioned in our response to tragedy by a false sense of entitlement (which is at the core of sin). As Job wisely did, let me encourage you, dear friend, to lift your countenance and focus on what matters, for “It is God who gives and it is God who takes away.”
If you shouldn’t start what you can’t finish, you shouldn’t finish what you didn’t start as well to put it in the Englishman’s words.
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