Thursday, March 24, 2005

And Now a Serious Post

The incredible nature of this Schiavo mess is stunning to me, stunning that this particular case became such a tempest, and stunned at the mendacity of a minority of the religious GOP rearing its head.

What no amount of poor news coverage, or slanders against Michael Schiavo could hide is the fact that this is something even most conservatives have a passing knowledge and concern for. Each and everyone of us knows that we are going to die, and each and everyone of us wants to go gracefully and with as little pain as possible. Certainly, not one of us would choose to be known only for our appearance in a vegetative state, when someone we trusted holds us up for display. I'm pretty sure nobody will argue that Terri Schiavo wanted that.

No person wants to be a glass-eyed spectacle at the end of our lives, trotted out like some exotic dead trout. That was the fate of Terri Schiavo for the last several years. 15 years in a vegetative state, the ONLY image millions of people have is a blank stare and an open mouth, an empty vessel.

And we all know if the Schindlers, and those on the right using them, had prevailed that was potentially a fate awaiting any one of us. Laying out, propped up on a bed, blank stare, drooling, glassy eyed, with only instinctive movement. Waiting, without knowing, someone to come clean us from whatever bowel or bladder movement we've had.

What they do not understand is that not only does everyone know they are going to die, a great many of us will face a situation of being with, or being responsible for, the life or death decision of someone else. Look at these posts on MSNBC for personal story after personal story of people who were in the situation of Michael Schiavo, time after time after time, all of them made the same decision and each came to know that letting someone go was the right decision.

Even those of us who do not have such a situation, or have not yet with a human being, we likely have had it in some other fashion.

I'm not a religious person, but if there are souls, then dammit my dogs have had them as much as most any person I've met. And yet like most pet owners I have faced the life and death decision. When your lifespan is several times the length of an animal that you keep as a pet, that is going to happen. We pet owners know what it is like to realize that life has no remaining value other than pain for our beloved animals, and we have to make the decision to end their lives -- and we do. I don't mean to compare the value of a pet to a human being so directly, though I think most pet owners are closer to their dogs or cats than all but a small handful of people in their lives.

Humans are genetically attuned to such matters in one form or another. For Tom DeLay to accuse someone like Michael Schiavo of being callous, we know that he is, in fact, judging most all of us in the same vile manner. And Bugman, we know ourselves and we know who we are, and we know damn well we don't make such decisions lightly.

The actions of DeLay and Bush this week are repugnant against the manner in which we as a society choose to live our lives and it manifested itself this week in opinion polls. When you attack something so important to all of us, and tell us our feelings are evil, it leaves a mark that we will all remember. We will remember and let you know.

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