Progressive Writers Bloc

On Death and Dying

By Merrily Davies

I mean, I was really a square in the 60’s. I mean---drugs, forget it. In all my life I have never even smoked a cigarette. I spent the 60’s on the second story of the library of UCSB while the bank burned. LSD, I don’t think so. I combed and washed my hair…went to church, too. I mean, I was clean. Would you believe???…I even voted for Nixon! By all accounts, conservative Republican that I was, and all, I should have some inkling about what Bush and his cohorts are all about on this Terri Schiavo issue. But for the life of me, I haven’t a clue.

According to the doctors knowledgeable in this case, Terri Schiavo tragically can never regain consciousness. Her scull is filled with spinal fluid. There is zero possibility for recovery. Decisions on cases such as these are made every day, every week around the country, 24/7. Some of you, no doubt, have had to make a decision about terminating life support for a loved one when you know the time has come. Yet, the president interrupts his vacation to charge back to Washington to challenge the outcome of the court’s decision (what a man!!!!). Yet, a special session of Congress is called. Yet, the president’s brother, the governor of Florida is summoned to again interfere with the decisions of yet another court. Yet, the Constitution of the United States is discarded again.

President Bush has said that when there is a question of life or death, we should err on the side of life. It costs thousands of dollars a day to keep this woman alive. People (who could recover) die every day from lack of medical attention, because they don’t have the money to pay for it. Yet, in the winter the poor and the homeless die every day frozen on the streets of our cities. Yet, in order to keep our oil flowing and the corporate bottom line intact, young soldiers die every day on the streets of Iraq as a result of lies that the president told: he knew that these lies would cause the deaths of our young people as well as thousands of innocent civilians. Yet, our military continues to litter Iraq with depleted uranium that is slowly killing our soldiers, Iraqi children, and the rest of the Iraqi population. Yet, 152 people were executed during Bush’s tenure as governor of Texas, while it is estimated that as many as 1/3 of the inmates on death row are actually innocent. So much for erring on the side of life. Yet, many island cultures, coastal cities and thousands of lives are threatened all over the globe with the impending disaster of global warming, because the president refuses to acknowledge the reports of his own science advisors. Ultimately global warming threatens all life on this planet, while the president is hiding his head in the gold dust of the corporate piggy bank.

So, since choosing life is clearly not really a priority for this President, how can we make sense of all this? Why would he pick such an absurd case to champion? What is really going on? The question you have to keep asking is, "Where's the payoff?" Who benefits from this media circus? Tom Delay, for one! The longer we focus on this pseudo-news, the less we focus on his scandals. Those who want us to keep us slogging away in the Iraq quagmire, for another.

But there may be an even more sinister side to what's going on. Who benefits when checks and balances in government are undermined? Who benefits when courts lose their constitutional power? Who benefits when the tragic life of this woman is exploited for political theater and turned into a wedge issue? Do I finally have a clue as to what the president and his cohorts are all about? In all the hypocritical show of concern for this one tragically hopeless human life, could this really be about power? It certainly isn't about Terri Schiavo! Geesh!

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