Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Light at the end of the tunnel

It's important for people to keep working and praying to save Terri Schiavo, but victory may be in sight. Enough people are starting to learn enough about the case that the media can no longer lie about it with plausible deniability. Judge Greer has issued a stay until Friday, supposedly so he can evaluate Michael's fitness as guardian, but more likely to find a way to cut his losses.

There is still much to be done--the avalanche of support for Terri must continue to build--but I think I am starting to see and appreciate God's plan.

Although, on the immediate horizon, the case is about saving the life of Terri Marie Schiavo (née Schindler), in reality the case goes much deeper. Terri is not the first person to suffer starvation and dehydration at the hands of judges. She is the first whose ability to endure the agony inflicted upon her while refusing to die has prevented her would-be killers from escaping public notice.

It would have been much easier for Terri had the efforts to kill her been stopped sooner. But had that occurred, the revelations that will appear over the next few days or weeks would never have happened.

I am reminded of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. The biggest point that movie drove home was that Christ's most heroic feet was not giving himself up at Gethsemene, but enduring the agonies that brought him to the cross. It would have been much easier for him to simply give up his spirit beneath the lash or upon the road. He endured, however, because to die prematurely would be to fail his mission.

Terri Schiavo should be hailed as a hero (and I pray not a martyr). It may not seem like a woman who can barely move and hardly speak can do much, but her refusal to die may save more lives than most able-bodied people could ever dream of. Would that all good people could have that level of courage and determination.

Thank you for bringing out some very encouraging points. There has been so much discouragment in Terri's case sometimes we don't see the facts that can give us hope.
Saving Schiavo’s Soul

The ongoing debate over the fate of Terri Schiavo is a revealing example of the differences between a secular and a religious world view. Those who advocate that Terry be kept alive and those supporting her right to die have two very different conceptions of the soul. The difference is crucial because differences in their metaphysical views have significant ethical and political implications.

According to the secular philosophy, the soul is the essence of who an individual is – the essence of his character, and the motive force of his actions. It is a unique trait of human beings, who are able to guide their own actions and their course in life through the exercise of their conceptual consciousness. Because the mind is a consequence of the process of the brain, the soul is also made possible by the biological processes of the human body and cannot exist without it. Life, in the secular philosophy, is a process of acting on values of one’s choosing, and happiness is the consequence of their successful accomplishment. This goes on until one cannot or does not choose to engage in the process of value-pursuit and dies.

According to the religious philosophy, the soul is a spiritual entity, separable from the body, and exists in some non-material realm apart from the material world. According to this philosophy, the soul is an immortal entity temporarily attached to a physical body by the whim of an all-powerful being. Since the soul does not “belong” to the mortal being, it comes with certain conditions, usually whatever the local mystics deem to be proper. According to the religious philosophy, a moral life consists of dutifully following the commandments of a higher being in order to make one’s soul less susceptible to misery in a future state of existence, such as heaven, Valhalla, or an afterlife. Since the choice to live is not up to mortal humans to make, the choice to die cannot be either, since their soul and thus their life does not belong to them. Furthermore, the end of mental activity does not mean the death of the soul, which remains trapped in the body as long as it is biologically alive, just as an fetus possesses a soul prior to developing a conceptual consciousness.

The vast difference and the ethical implications of these world views should be clear. In the secular philosophy, man has a “self-made soul” that he shapes and that shapes his life. In the mystic philosophy, man is granted his soul by a god and must obey that deity or expose the soul to “eternal damnation” in the beyond. Religious groups oppose the right to die for the same reason that they oppose happiness as the ultimate moral end: it represents a threat to their conception of human nature.

Terri Schiavo is not an isolated case, as lawmakers claimed when they blatantly disregarded the Constitution and federalism in an attempt to preserve her body – it is an example of the same reasoning they use to oppose the right to die and abortion. It is a reasoning that denies the essential difference between human beings and carrots on a mental and physical level and claims instead that the difference exists in some unreachable, imperceptible, and unknowable realm. It is no wonder then, why they must resort to force to bully their beliefs on those who live their lives for a this-worldly purpose.
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