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March 22, 2005

We are all Terri Schiavo

Though we often refer to modern society as a "culture of death," never has death been less present than it is today. We no longer routinely face death. Death occurs in hospitals and nursing homes where the elderly and infirm are hidden away from society. Because we do not regularly bear witness to the ravages of disease and decay upon our bodies, I might suggest that on the whole we Americans are ill-equipped to face it when it comes.

For this reason, opinions on the Terri Schiavo case do not seem to follow the usual conservative/liberal political opinions (except perhaps in Congress where pandering to one's perceived constituencies is part of the job description). Friends who self-identify as liberal/left have also lined up in support of Terri Schiavo's parents. Friends who lean rightward are also insistent that she be "let go."

Because deep down we fear crippling infirmity, . . . because we are not equipped to deal with it, . . . because we look at Terri Schiavo and recognize that "there but for the grace of God go I," we wish to "end her suffering." Because we would never want to live like that, we believe it's best that no one else has to live like that either.

Because we have accepted the ideal of "quality of life," and have drawn our own arbitrary lines marking the point at which quality of life ends, we are entirely willing to draw that line for others as well.

The reason so many people support ending Terri Schiavo's life is because we are all potential Terri Schiavos, and it scares the crap out of us.

Posted by Drew at March 22, 2005 07:15 PM

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