Serious Death and Destruction

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

March 28, 2005

A News Watch is on.  An earthquake of 8.7 magnitude struck late Monday off the west coast of Indonesia.  Described as one of the four or five “greatest earthquakes of the past century,” Kerry Sieh, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey, predicts, “…a Tsunami has a 100 percent chance of hitting.”

Officials in Indonesia are just now beginning to report damaged buildings and lives lost.  Reporters on Fox News read from their scripts.  As dawn breaks on the other side of the world, they tell us we could again be facing, “serious death and destruction.”

Meanwhile, a tsunami of a different kind has been unleashed in America this past week.  Born on the waves of the pain of one family, this tidal wave threatens destruction of proportions dwarfing the death toll from December’s Indonesian tsunami disaster when at least 273,000 people lost their lives.

The American Tsunami is due to take its first victim any time now.  Terri Schiavo’s life is washing out to sea, one small life sacrificed for lack of a justice system that will uphold her right to live.

Her case is a harbinger of things to come.  As Americans rush to call their attorneys and download living wills from the Internet, Terri’s case proves we live under the tyranny of a judicial system that has no need of advance directives.  Terri left no such set of instructions to guide her care, yet we pretend we know what she wants.

Seven years after she fell into her coma, her husband suddenly remembered that Terri didn’t want to live.  There is no written will, no signature, and no directive.  It is the word of one man who wants to get on with his life…against the silence of one woman whose life hangs in the balance.  The man will win.  The woman will die.

Brace yourself.  This Tsunami is building and gathering force.  It threatens to unleash widespread death and destruction on Americans who will be unable to justify their worth to a world demanding function and profit. This is not just about Terri.  Millions of human lives are at risk.

We will have years to unravel the details about Terri’s case that have gone largely unreported in the mainstream media.  We will learn how easy it is to hire two expert witnesses to say a life is worthless and to get one death-prone judge to agree.  We will find all sorts of soft words to describe the process of killing.  And we will build a cadre of physicians who are willing to assist in the administration of death.

And just to make sure that we can live with ourselves, we will paint pretty pictures of death by force.  It will be quiet.  It will be compassionate.  It will be merciful.  But mostly, it will be profitable.

The day is not too far off when some compassionate judge will set aside your written directive to live.  Some relative who wants to preserve his inheritance or some hospital administrator who wants to improve the bottom line will show up in court.  The judge will agree with a well-paid lawyer that you would really want to die if you had known what life would come to when you mistakenly signed your living will.  And you will die.

It’s happened before.  In 1942, just as German mental patients were being finished off, Dr. Foster Kennedy, wrote his recipe for death in the official publication of the American Psychiatric Association.  “Parents who have seen the difficult life of a crippled or feebleminded child must be convinced that though they have the moral obligation to care for the unfortunate creatures, the wider public should not be obliged…to assume the enormous costs that long-term institutionalization might entail.”

The News Watch is on.  In the coming days, we will witness the results of the potential Indonesia tsunami in an immediate wave of destruction.  Many may die.  We will mourn.  And we will rebuild.

In America, the coming week will pass quietly.  One American woman will die for lack of food and water…because one man said she would have said she wanted to die, if she could have said she wanted to die, even though she didn’t say she wanted to die.  And we won’t need to mourn, because we did it for her good.

Terri’s death will be the crashing force of an earthquake happening miles below the water’s surface.  And seismologist Kerry Sieh’s words spell out the pending disaster both for Indonesia…and for America.  “I would guess that this has produced significant tsunamis and that there will be significant damage.”

 Affirmation of life is the spiritual act by which man ceases to live thoughtlessly and begins to devote himself to his life with reverence in order to give it true value.  To affirm life is to deepen, to make more inward, and to exalt the will to live.  At the same time the man who has become a thinking being feels a compulsion to give to every will to live the same reverence for life that he gives to his own.  He experiences that other life in his own.  He accepts as good preserving life, promoting life, developing all life that is capable of development to its highest possible value.  He considers as evil destroying life, injuring life, repressing life that is capable of development.  This is the absolute, fundamental principle of ethics, and it is a fundamental postulate of thought.  

-Albert Schweitzer