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February 24, 2005

Terri Schiavo

I won't presume to speak for Dusty and Bill - but I *am* the senior editorial voice of this little corner of the Internet. They have the ability to post their opinions should they wish. As you can in the comments. No savaging each other, either. If you can't be polite about it - I'm not interested in what you have to say. Passion is fine. Personal attacks will just piss me off and get you banned.

In my adult life I have saved life. I have taken life. Most of my adult life has been focused on how to kill people, break things, and control what's left, and the larger context of human interaction into which miltary action fits.

Regardless of the twisted thinking of some - that doesn't make me a friend of, or a glorifier, of death. If anything, like my father, and my war veteran grandfather before himI will err on the side of caution, and act disproportionately to save life. If only because my personal ghosts remind me of the permanence of death, regardless of your belief of what lies after.

Since what lies after is eternity, I choose to err on the side of caution on what is, statistically, the short end of the stick - excepting you reincarnationists, who have some more chances on the wheel.

Because of that - I am *not* a fan of the death penalty. I am *not* a fan of abortion - though I have not slipped into the abolitionist camp, and I choose generally not to judge the women who make the choices they make - but then lately it's become obvious with this group I'm a hopeless dewy-eyed liberal. I make exception for ego-driven, "I want a boy/girl, not a girl/boy," kinds of reasons. I will judge. But I won't throw it in your face if you don't throw it in mine.

I am relentlessly opposed to euthanasia, your 'right to die' too easily gets twisted to eventuate someone else's 'right to kill' as we have seen in Europe.

And might be about to see in Florida. And by starvation, no less, because of an astounding lack of moral courage. It's okay in some eyes to allow Terry Schiavo to starve to death... it would be *murder* to just go ahead and kill her, eh? Crapweasel logic. Moral cowardice. Base and venal, beneath contempt. I at least know what I am - and what I did, and will do. I accept responsibility, not dodge behind a very thin reed to hide.

I thought we'd progressed a few thousand years beyond the time when the unwanted were put out to die by exposure... at least a quicker death than starvation.

I have a friend whose wife has multiple sclerosis, and badly. Doctors have told him that by this time in the progression of the disease, most spouses have divorced, if only to put the financial and, frankly, support burden on the state.

Not my friend. Even though the woman he tends is in her late 40's, and has been like this for over a decade, and the burden has ruined his career chances, and kept him tied to this one place in a manner of stasis - day after day after day he cares for her. He has raised their daughter (who helps). He works full time to provide. He helps her eat, he bathes her, he changes her diaper, all of it. And whle she is more interactive certainly than Terry is, it's as often bad as it is good. He gave his word. In sickness and in health. For richer and for poorer. And he stands by her, and on those days when she's feeling well, he gets some positive feedback, a little tiny spark of what once was. But if there were none of that, still he would be there. If it weren't for this - he would be in the six-figure salary range... with at least a leading 2, and easily 7 figures in the bank. He's not close to to half of that for salary - and what little is in the bank goes to college. He is more a hero than I have ever been.

In the military we are fond of quoting John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this; that he lay down his life for his friends."

It's actually comparatively easy to do in combat. You are in a fey mood in a fey place. I submit that greater love hath no man than this: that he sacrifice his future for his wife, and does so knowing he will have to live it. Change gender as appropriate.

I know this is a complicated case, and it may well be true that Terri said she didn't want to be kept on life support. Michael may be acting in what he perceives is her interest - though it strikes me his self-interest is open to question. But there is greater issue than Terri - and that is the issue of "other people choosing" as is happening in Europe. My mother has a living will. She has my sister as executrix, because she knows my father would fail that test. You have a responsibility to lawfully record your wishes if you wish to die. If you don't - then I say the slippery slope stops here. Sorry. The Unintended Consequences trump.

We can't all be Gabriele Helms. Or my friend. But we can make our voices heard.

So count me among the defenders of Terri Schiavo and her parent's fight to save her from her husband's selfish greed - like the esteemed Mistress of the Castle, and these other people, trying to hold back the darkness of death by neglect.

Huh. When I started, I expected 10 minutes and three paragraphs. Looks like I misunderestimated. Guess I feel more strongly about this than I thought.