Thursday, March 24, 2005

Lagniappe: Note to the Schindlers - Stop running around in front of cameras playing politics and go BE with your daughter. Hold her hand. Comfort one another as she passes into a much better life. Grieve her passing, but celebrate the Easter promise of resurrection with her.

Lagniappe: The Easter Story and the Schiavo Situation - Something else has recently struck me about the coincidence of Terri Schiavo's death journey and this week when Christians celebrate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. What we Christians celebrate this week, above all else, is the great gift of life through death. And all I'm hearing from self-proclaimed Christians who disagree with removing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube is all about the need to desperately cling to life. There is no discussion about the mystery of the great gift of life after death that this Passion week so acutely reminds us of. There is no celebration going on about the new and better life about to unfold for Terri Schiavo, a much better life certainly than the one she has experienced in the past 15 years if you can call it life. In fact, her parents seem to think that Terri's soul will be condemned if she dies under such conditions in which she currently finds herself. What baloney! Let's remember the purpose of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Holy Week! Terri is passing into eternal life, thanks to Jesus. We are fortunate to have this Holy Week to remind us of this. I think all Christians should reflect on this, especially those who want so desperately to cling on to some form of temporal bodily existence that they call life for Terri Schiavo. We don't pretend to want to debate the what-ifs of Jesus' possible escape from death this week. No, indeed. We CELEBRATE His death. We are grateful that it happens, because it promises us new life. Let's remember that when we remember Terri Schiavo.

Lagniappe: The Sad Case of Mary Schindler - The schreeching, almost hysterical theatre being bestowed upon us by Mary Schindler is sad and pitiable on many fronts. On the one hand, it seems irrational and excessive. Most folks who protest a perceived injustice or who have to suffer through the death of a loved one (capital punishment comes to mind) don't lapse into the hysterics that seem to characterize Mary Schindler. I feel for her frustration and the sad agony of the situation, and I don't want to sound unsympathetic, but the overly melodramatic nature of her appeals seems to ring hollow and partly false. But the saddest thing about Mary Schindler's behavior, and the most telling about what I would call her utter selfishness in this whole affair, is that she is so caught up in her public theatrics that she appears to be missing the chance to accompany her daughter on her death journey. Mary Schindler doesn't need to agree with the decision to remove her daughter's feeding tube in order to be with her daughter as she passes on. What should be a soulful, prayerful, and peaceful journey into death and (for us Christians) new life, for Terri but also for her family, is really nothing short of madness. When Terri is gone, I have no doubts that Mary will suffer pangs of grief not only for her loss of Terri, but also out of guilt for not being present to Terri as the loving, supportive, and comforting mother she might have been in Terri's final days. It really is pathetic and sad. I pity Mary Schindler.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Cuaderno Latinoamericano: Mexicans in the US Armed Forces - Many anti-Mexican immigrant folks will go to hateful ends to make Mexicans feel unwelcome and unwanted in the United States -- even to the point of advocating for the construction of a "Great Wall" dividing the countries along the border. Some even also advocate for vigilante border patrolling to make sure those "wetbacks" don't stay long enough on U.S. soil to let their backs get dry. But when it comes to Mexicans signing up for the U.S. military and then dying needlessly in the Iraqi deserts in an unjust war carried out by an administration whose rabid right-wing supporters despise Mexican immigrants, albeit of the "illegal" kind so they say, where are these malicious folks. It is quite something that Mexicans will die in service of the United States, without even having the benefits of full citizenship, when some of the very citizens that they die for have very little sympathy for them, their family, and their countrymen. The New York Times has a moving piece on Mexicans who die for the U.S. I wish all anti-Mexican immigrant zealots, those who also call themselves U.S. patriots, would read this article and have a change of heart.

Lagniappe: Schiavo vs. Schindler - Take a look at this picture plastered all over the web ...

and tell me if all the hoopla is really about Terri Schiavo and not about Mary Schindler.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Laginappe: The Terri Schiavo Dilemma - The whole debate about Terri Schiavo that is going on these days is not necessarily an issue of social justice, but it is an issue about the dignity of life versus the dignity of death. And this is, in some way, a justice issue. The official Catholic Church is against the removal of Terry Schiavo's feeding tube; and many so-called "pro-lifers" are staging poignant protests to keep this woman alive in a condition that no one can really claim is any kind of positive quality of life for anyone.

Personally, I am very torn by this whole ordeal. On the one hand, we have a woman who can’t speak for herself and who actually might have expressed a wish to not be kept alive by artificial means. I know that my wife has made that abundantly clear to me in our discussions, but I don’t think she has ever put this on paper. But, as a pro-life liberal, I am inclined to opt on the side of life when there is a clear question as to Terri Schiavo’s intent. I don’t think the husband and his transgressions, or the parents and their pleas, or Congress and its absurd and abusive use of its “subpoena” powers really matters at the core of this issue. What this really boils down to, in my mind, is the absolute sanctity of life versus an individual’s right to choose death.

Here we have a case where, if a living will existed, or if there were any clear indication that Terri Schiavo herself expressed her wishes not to be kept alive by artificial means, then it would somehow be morally acceptable to “pull the plug,” so to speak. Is that any way to defend the dignity of life? Why not then support assisted suicide?

Also, I read recently that there are many, many cases (in the thousands per year) where families are faced with this agonizing decision to “pull the plug” on their loved ones in “permanent vegetative states” - just like Terri Schiavo. And the fact is that many families come to the mutual consensus decision to terminate a life without knowing what is the will of the person subject to death regarding being kept alive artificially. Yet, I don’t see anyone protesting these arbitrary decisions to terminate a life.

Is a simple consensus of guardians who decide to terminate a life any morally different that a decision to terminate a life without a consensus of guardians? This is what troubles me about singling out this particular case and making it such a “pro-life” cause celebre. Where are the pro-lifers when the thousands of others in permanent vegetative states are starved to death because someone else (parents, spouses, children, legal guardians) says its o.k. to disconnect the feeding tube, but when no one else has the heart to challenge this decision?

Do we as a society respect the right to die with dignity via the whole "living will" process? Do we who are Catholic accept the right to die with dignity even if technology exists to artificially lengthen our lives? Does the "quality of life" matter in terms of respecting the "dignity of death"? I would appreciate your thoughts on this to help me sort through this isse.