Tuesday, March 22, 2005
I see where a Federal Judge has decided not to overturn Judge Greer and that Terri Shiavo will be permitted to “expire”. I don’t know of anyway to express how disappointed I am with the mentality of a civilized culture that would starve a handicapped person to death and have the audacity to compare the willful destruction of a living being to that of one who dies from natural causes.
In the Old Testament there is an interesting story that ties in with today’s modern judicial blundering of the Terri Shiavo case; the exception being that in that story Wisdom prevailed. Please take a moment to look it up in the book of 1st Kings, chapter 3 starting in verse 17 and ending with verse 28. There you will find a “story” or a “parable” that instructs us all on how to determine who really has “the best interests of an individual” at heart. Solomon was able to determine which of the two women, both who claimed to be the rightful mother, was the true mother “who deserved the care and custody” of another human being. How sad that our society has determined that the Bible is of so little value as to be relegated to the back shelf; opting instead for more wholesome enlightenment with teaching moments found in shows like, “The Simpsons”, “Fear Factor”, “Desperate Housewives” and let’s not forget, “Queer eye for the straight guy”. What is being “written in our book”, on the outside chance that some future civilization happens upon the history we are making? Have we shown the wisdom of Solomon; I think not.
In a modern day example that could compare with the plight of Terri, I would turn to the movie based on a true story, “Awakenings”. The similarities to the Terri Shiavo case are quite remarkable; except instead of just one individual who is considerably handicapped there are several who are “living stones”. This remarkable story attempts to explain the quality of life from the standpoint of those who have been confined within a body which does not permit them to express those characteristics which most of the human race take for granted; the ability to move about at will, the ability to have a conversation and articulate thoughts or any number of human desires. I remember a couple of important ideas which the movie was able to convey.
The first was, “What do these “living stones” think about?” The old retired doctor had taken for granted that, “they don’t think, their higher intellectual capacities were destroyed by the disease.” (paraphrased, but close enough for government work) Then as one of them is attempting to “awaken” from years of having been locked away inside of one of the “living stones”; having been the recipient of some wonder drug, he explains that his life has been similar to that of a caged leopard at the zoo, ever pacing behind the bars of his confinement, always trapped with seemingly no hope of escape. The caring doctor played by Robin Williams reads the story and comes to the realization that these people are aware of their surroundings, that they are thinking about all manner of things, that they are not vegetables taking up space. This bold conclusion flew in the face of the medical community, those who had much more experience than did he. Who are we, any of us, to play God and determine that our presumed “quality of life” parameters justify drawing a line which determines who should continue in life or who should not. Isn’t that the criteria used by the Third Reich to build a superior race worthy of notice? I believe that we are following in those footsteps; maybe not intentionally, all the same, this is a defining moment for our civilization and our country.
I have one last entry into the realm of human quality of life; the right to life, the campaign being pursued for right to death and the court battles that are being played out before us. I wrote a novel, “Pecaw’s Gift” many years ago. I had not thought that the subject of taking care of a comatose human being would be quite so controversial; and yet I did include a glimpse, by way of a cold natured nurse character, of how some regard a comatose human form to be a waste of time and effort. Mind you, this was a piece of fiction that sprang from my head as a form of entertainment rather than as an op-ed piece; all the same the ideas are presented in such a way as to illustrate the need for permitting the concept of “endure to the end”, regardless of any perceived quality of life or lack thereof. I extend an invitation to review my efforts.
I have been transferring a chapter at a time on weekends as time permits. When I started writing “Pecaw’s” Gift, word processing programs where not nearly as efficient as they are today. I have transferred from Word Star, to Works and then to Word; each time doing what I could to maintain the appearance of intelligent design; however upon transferring each chapter to Blogger I have noticed that there are embedded printer commands that I have been unable to remove. Rather than get in a funk over these anomalies I have learned to turn a blind eye and ignore them.
Posted by T. F. Stern at 1:46 PM