One year ago today, Terri Schiavo died as a result of almost two weeks without food and water. Terri Schiavo required less medical intervention than Christopher Reeve, whom the world respected and admired and was pleased to accommodate. Her needs were chiefly for food and hygiene and those common ailments that being bed-bound brings. She didn't require a respirator, as Mr. Reeve did, but was able to breathe on her own.
Yet Terri's disability was one that, for some reason, our society is less pleased to accommodate: she was intellectually disabled. Oh how human pride deceives us! We are so sure that our worth is seated in what we can do; what we can produce. We are convinced that the gap in human intellect between the dull and the genius is so very great indeed. When we compare that to the mind of God, though, even our greatest geniuses are imbeciles.
Our worth is not the result of what we can do. It is the result of what we are: creatures made in the image of God, chosen out of all the creation as an object of God's special love and attention, chosen of all earth's creatures and all the angels as uniquely worth the ransom price of the lifeblood of the Son of God Himself. This is what Terri was worth: the blood of the Son of God. Surely if she was worth that, she was worth food, water, and medical care.
What a sad anniversary this is! What usually goes on quietly behind closed doors happened in the public light, while much of our country, much of the world, looked on approvingly and the courts which are supposed to protect, gave their blessing, officially sanctioning the notion that a "nonproductive" life can be legally terminated.
Many of us who remember Terri never had the opportunity to know her, but to us her life is a symbol. To those of us who respect human life as being made in the image of God, she is a reminder that we must work to retain that understanding in our culture and our law. She is a reminder to all of us that once we abandon the idea that human life is of value by design, we are left with only an evolutionary notion that those who can will compete and destroy those who cannot.
There is a Christian notion that as we suffer, and as we sacrifice for others, God refines us. I am not suggesting that we earn salvation that way, only that God uses those things in our lives to make us a better people, to make us more like Himself. But the philosophy behind evolutionary thought is exactly the opposite. It suggests that as we compete, as the fittest survive and the less fit are eliminated, we become better as a people.
I am not suggesting here that everyone who believes in an evolutionary model of creation applies that philosophy in this way to ethics, nor that all of Terri's supporters are creationists. However, that is what one must do in order to be consistent. If, in fact, survival of only the most fit improves a race, and if improving the human race is a good thing, then the human race is best served by eliminating the weak.
We are a better people when we sacrifice and care for one another. I read the lovely comments left on a previous Blogger's Best post by shokenjii as he describes caring for his aged mother, and I see there one beautiful person caring for another, both shaped by God's hand as they share the struggle. He says, " Defining my caregiving task is simple – God has entrusted me with Mom’s life, not her death."
May God have mercy on this nation and grant that we, like Nineveh, hear the Word of God and turn from our sin before the judgment of God comes upon us.
Now, after that long introduction, I will share with you posts from other bloggers remembering the life and death of Terri Schiavo. Entries will be added for one week. Submit links to this email address.
St. Peter's Helpers shares Terri's Passion, in which Terri's last days are compared to those of Pope John Paul II, who died at about the same time.
JivinJehoshaphat analyzes Michael Schiavo's Dateline interview with Matt Lauer in Controlling Terri.
Christianity and Middle-Earth analyzes euthanizing the disabled young and old in, How Long, O Lord, Holy and True?
Joe at Life at the Frontier recalls his reaction to a blatant piece of Old Media mis/disinformation while Terri was being killed in Terri Schiavo, Iraq, and the Old Media.
Other links of interest:
A Life That Matters, a book by Mary and Robert Schindler.