The "Culture of Death" Does Not Exist
I hated when I would go to my parents with what I thought was a life-altering problem (ohmygod, I have a ZIT!) and they would say to me, It's not the end of the world, you know. I do the same thing to my children and I often chastise myself for using that line on them, because I know that, to them, their problem is the end of the world.
But I'm going to say it now. To a whole group of people. It's not the end of the world. It's not even the end of civilization as we know it. It's not the dawning of a metaphorical ice age in which we start killing people willy nilly, based on our own random expectations of what life should be.
Paul at Wizbang wants to know why people are so passionate about the right to die issue. And I don't think he means passionate in a good way when he talks about the "other siders," or people who aren't agreeing with him. Honestly, it's not even Paul who has me annoyed this time, but his commenters. And loads of other people who have brought upon this ugly, dark "Culture of Death" label and dropped it on anyone who doesn't align completely and wholeheartedly with them on the issue of living wills and dying peacefully.
For all the people screaming about slippery slopes and Hitler and the killing of handicapped, elderly and retarded, you would think at least one of them would stop and listen to an opponent. No, really listen. Not just shake their head in a condescending manner and walk away when one of us starts talking. Just..listen.
But, no. They'd rather hold up their placards and chant their slogans and accuse every last one of us of being potential murderers. Of being part and parcel of the abortion movement. That they are tying the Schiavo case into the abortion movement speaks volumes. I'm sure it would be nice for them to have all their anti-causes packaged up into one neat little package (called the Culture of Death), but it doesn't work that way, because there are more to the issues than what these people are letting themselves think about.
"You and your pro-abortion zealots are looking at this as a boon to your cause...," is from one email I received when the Schiavo story was at its peak.
Zealot? I'm still, after all these years, not sure how I feel about abortion, so to say I'm a zealot is stretching it just a bit, and to assume that my feelings about Terri Schiavo had something to do with my feelings toward abortion is not only presumptious, but wrong.
Let's call this, instead of the Culture of Death, the Culture of Dying With Dignity. I know, doesn't have quite the ring to it, and it won't fit as well on posters, but it certainly does have more truth in it than the original.
See, I don't know anyone - not one single person - who was on my "side" in the Schiavo case who wants to turn this issue into a way to kill all the infirmed, the elderly or the handicapped. I do not know one single person who thinks it would be ok to kill someone just because they reach a certain age and aren't a productive member of society anymore. I don't know one single person who thinks retarded kids should be put death or grandmothers with broken legs should be shot.
This is about allowing people their personal choice, and within limits. I would like to see laws enacted that would allow, with specifications and limits, a person to choose death over instances where they may be dying, in pain and agony, for a long time. It's about dying with dignity. Dying without protracted, prolonged pain. About choosing the option to go quietly and peacefully rather than lingering in a vegetative state for years. My option. My choice. Again, within specific guidelines and limitations. I don't think someone should be able to say "I lost my job, my wife left me, let me check myself into a hospital and have them kill me legally."
Of course, things like this will never happen, because the Slippery Slopists will be there to say, IF...THEN. If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll eventually want your whole house. And if you give a person the right to die with dignity, eventually you'll be killing everyone who's not blonde haired and blue eyed. And those who aren't screaming about Hitler will yell about God. It's God's choice when you die. It's God's will when you die. Only God can choose when a life should end.
I do not belong to a Culture of Death. I am not hateful. Yet, that is what so many people believe. I've read a slew of articles and blog posts about how the Schiavo story is causing a great divide, not only between the left and the right, but between moderate Republicans and more right leaning Republicans, between Democrats and religious Democrats. Maybe, just maybe, there isn't so much a divide but a misunderstanding. Maybe, just maybe, blanketing everyone with the phrase Culture of Death has done more to create the appearance of a great divide than anything else. The world is not ending. The end is not nigh, just because we disagree on the manner in which people should or could die. Civilization is not coming to a halt because some lady in Alabama may or may not have her living will ignored.
No one - outside of a person committing suicide - can choose how or when they will die. I could be hit by a bus or die of cancer. It could be today, it could be 40 years from now. But if I can choose, if the circumstances allow, to make my death less lingering and less painful, why not?
That's all I believe in. Not aborting Down's Syndrome fetuses. Not pulling the plug on someone who has a cold. Not locking retarded children in a closet until they starve to death just so we can be rid of them. Not filling a grandmother with morphine just because she's old. There is no Culture of Death. It's a dark, ugly name given to people who disagree with those who think they form some kind of Culture of Life.
The Culture of Dying with Dignity. That's me.