Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Profound Gifts of Terri Schiavo

From Associated Press today....

"More than two-thirds of people who describe themselves as evangelicals and conservatives disapprove of the intervention by Congress and President Bush in the case of the Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman at the center of a national debate....

A CBS News poll found that four of five people polled opposed federal intervention, with levels of disapproval among key groups supporting the GOP almost that high.

Most Americans say they feel sympathy for family members on both sides of the dispute over the 41-year-old Schiavo, according to a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll.

More than eight in 10 in that poll said they feel sympathy for Bob and Mary Schindler, parents of Schiavo, who want to keep her alive. And seven in 10 said they're sympathetic for Michael Schiavo, the husband of Schiavo who says she should be allowed to die."

James Dobson, Jerry Falwell and Karl Rove were incorrect, insulting and arrogant to claim that all and only conservative evangelical voters were "pro-life." People of all faiths and beliefs treasure life. And each person experiences, values and celebrates life differently. God made us in His image, but he made each of us a unique creation in Him.

The sad Terri Schiavo plight has caused the US to unavoidably see our diversity of views. Views that, once again, don't fit neat political categories.

Were I granted the ability to make this awful decision, I would send Terri home with her parents. I find that the kind and right solution to honor God-given life. Politically, I consider myself a moderate liberal....usually. Often. Not always. If I have one consistent belief, it is that of honoring the holiness of human life.

Last night, I spoke with my late-20s daughter, a common sense conservative and a Catholic. She voted for President in spite of the George Bush-as-evangelical-deity, not because of it. She said she's tired of Terri Schiavo overkill.....sick of the grotesque political exploitation.

She believes that Michael Schiavo is doing the right and kind thing in allowing his wife die in dignity. She continued to say that last year, she drew up papers for herself, making clear her wish to never be kept alive via life support systems.

Liberal, keep Terri alive. Conservative, let Terri die with dignity. Neither of us fit the stereotypes that politicans, media and churches want to place on us. Neither of us is wrong.

The simple fact is that Mr. Schiavo has the right to determine his wife's fate. She married him and she gave him that authority. The courts would be wrong to overturn this spousal responsibility, barring nefarious reasons.

CNN, CBS and AP polls all reflect that the group they tag "evangelical" disapproves and disagrees with the ghoulish political grandstanding of George Bush and Tom DeLay in ignoring a husband's rights, states' rights, our judicial system and even Florida custody laws.

The fact is that our most personal values and faiths can't be sliced and diced and stuffed neatly into one politically-expedient classification. Mr. Bush and Mr. DeLay are rapidly, and finally, discovering that the American people are smarter, deeper and more independent than that. Hopefully, Dobson, Falwell and Rove can likewise open their hearts to also see that.

Terri Schiavo's gift to us may be a re-awakening to the meaning of being "pro-life," and how it touches each of our families. About how honoring life has many forms and views, and how it's about far more than saving cute, unborn babies. Being "pro-life" is an ethical system dedicated to preserving life with dignity and love, and is not conveniently tied to just one or two comfortable issues.

Terri's other gift may be to break divisive stereotyped thinking that was purposely injected into the 2004 election for personal political advantage. My daughter and I quietly listened to each other, with surprise and without interruption. Terri's other gift may be to freshly see each other with new eyes and ears. And to listen quietly without pre-judging.

Terri Schiavo's impact has been profound. And her gifts could mean a much-needed new start for our noble country.

God bless Terri Schiavo, her husband and her family.

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