Wednesday, March 23, 2005

This Just In...

15 years ago, when Michael Schiavo arrived home to find his wife, Terri, on the kitchen floor, prone and barely breathing, if at all, one wonders if he realized his wife's fate would ultimately be not in the hands of doctors but old men wearing suits and/or robes.

90 minutes ago, Terri Schiavo's parents instructed one of their attorneys to file a petition with the Supreme Court, only hours after Florida's State Court of Appeals denied a request for review of the case involving their daughter. The Florida State Senate also rejected a bill that would continue giving Ms. Schiavo food and water.

On top of that, Jeb Bush, younger brother of Dubya and currently serving as Florida's Governor, decided to re-enter the fray by suggesting Ms. Schiavo's medical condition should be reviewed as she might have been misdiagnosed.


Is he kidding?

Between her parents' suggestions that Ms. Schiavo might have been misdiagnosed and recent reports from a neurologist (retained by Ms. Schiavo's parents) indicating her condition might be improved with a different course of therapy, one wonders what these people are actually thinking -- if "thinking" is a term that can actually be used to describe their actions.

On occasion, two parties who are embroiled in conflict are interrupted by a third, detached, unbiased party who intervenes and clears up the conflict. In this case, however, there are about twenty-seven different parties; some of them are politicans pandering for votes and making speeches in their holier-than-thou, deepest, most somber voices, hoping for snippets and/or soundbytes on the 11 O'Clock news. There are judges on every level -- local, state and, now, federal. And there is the President, commenting from the sidelines. There are protestors taping their mouths shut, carrying signs and making attempts to bring Ms. Schiavo food and water.

And then there are Ms. Schiavo's parents, who are begging everyone from politicians to judges to the President to Bishop Desmond Tutu to save their daughter.

And then there is the American public, watching this despicable, ridiculous circus. Free. No tickets for admission to this spectacle. Magnetic, it draws opinion and emotion like an impending collision.

Then there is Mr. Schiavo, presumably attempting to carry out his wife's wish to not exist as a collection of organs connected to a wall in a hospice, simply existing in an emotionless, futile vaccuum.

Some very telling, and very legitimate, points being made in and around the media the last 24 hours:

On Republican Senators involving themselves in the conflict: If Republicans are so dedicated to the sanctity of marriage between man and woman, why are they attempting to shove their beliefs between a husband and wife?

On politicians' conservative, christian, god-fearing right belief(s) which claim saving Ms. Schiavo's life is god's will: If god's will is the goal, wouldn't disconnecting all machines maintaining what little life Ms. Schiavo has in her allow that life to proceed as god designed?

Aside from the fact that, at the end of this debacle, Ms. Schiavo's life will end, perhaps the saddest thing about this entire conflict is that Mr. Schiavo's actions have been, ostensibly, to allow Ms. Schiavo to retain her dignity and not simply exist as semi-living tissue. Her parents, in an effort to "save our daughter," have not only stolen her will (to not be kept alive by machines in a barely-conscious haze), but have stolen her dignity as well. Instead of people remembering Ms. Schiavo as a woman who suffered greatly in this life but was allowed to find peace and dignity in death, her parents have made a mockery of the life she has "lived" since she collapsed and nearly died.

Perhaps this is the way modern America shall be; macabre, disgusting, garish displays involving celebrity trials, school shootings, kidnappings and other high-profile media events leading to press conferences, make-shift memorials, public displays of sadness, and poignant scenes of emotion, all compartmentalized between two thirty-second commercials for tooth whitener and improved plastic wrap. And at the center of all of this crass, superficial commercialism, there is life, and the questions which we all ponder at some point in our collective existence.

The spotlight that is shining on this three-ring circus, hopefully, is going to dim and, once it does, I hope Ms. Schiavo, wherever she is now and wherever she is headed, finds solace, peace and tranquility. And I hope, wherever she is going, there are no reporters, camera operators, parents or politicians. She's lived this hell long enough; hopefully, where she's going, those aforementioned people won't be granted admission.

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