If I hear one more caller to a talk show start out by saying "I am a Republican, Catholic and devoutly pro-life, but …" and then goes on to proclaim why Terri should die I will scream. If only they were all seminar callers. Unfortunately there are way too many of those who are truthful about the contradiction they are saying. Normally it leads to the inevitable"I wouldn’t want to be in that condition." Well most people also don’t want to grow older, come down with sicknesses, be diagnosed with cancer, to have a stroke or the myriad conditions that slowly or rapidly bring ourselves to deaths door. Nobody will answer to the affirmative in desiring of those things. But if these poll questions about Terri asked people if they wanted to be dehydrated to death I think we might get pretty close to a hundred percent NO on that one. Generally when it comes to suffering we have a very limited or no imagination. When it comes to the school of suffering we would rather play hooky. Jesus’s call to "pick up the cross" daily for many of us is one of the most scandalous things he said.
Most people have the Pete Townshend syndrome. He wrote the memorable line in The Who’s "My Generation", "Hope I die before I get old." This line with the full irony it implies is still sung when they do reunion tours. Maybe it should be modified to "Hope I die before I get very, very, very old." Most people can’t see themselves in a future situation and understand how they would look at life in that situation. It is fairly common for people to previously state that they don’t want to go through chemo if they ever have cancer to change their minds once they do. Christopher Reeves would surly not want what happened to him, but he also found it was better to be alive even if paralyzed and requiring life support in the form of a ventilator. Why are we willing to execute people based on either written or verbal statements made when they are healthy? Pollsters don’t only take one poll and that is it. They take multiple polls because they know that people’s opinions shift over time in response to information. Why are some people so blind to this reality?
I keep thinking of the "Bring out your dead" scene in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail.
CUSTOMER: Here’s one — nine pence.
DEAD PERSON: I’m not dead!
CUSTOMER: Nothing — here’s your nine pence.
DEAD PERSON: I’m not dead!
MORTICIAN: Here — he says he’s not dead!
CUSTOMER: Yes, he is.
DEAD PERSON: I’m not!
MORTICIAN: He isn’t.
CUSTOMER: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.
DEAD PERSON: I’m getting better!
CUSTOMER: No, you’re not — you’ll be stone dead in a moment.
MORTICIAN: Oh, I can’t take him like that — it’s against regulations.
DEAD PERSON: I don’t want to go in the cart!
CUSTOMER: Oh, don’t be such a baby.
MORTICIAN: I can’t take him…
DEAD PERSON: I feel fine!
CUSTOMER: Oh, do us a favor…
MORTICIAN: I can’t.
CUSTOMER: Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes? He won’t be long.
MORTICIAN: Naaah, I got to go on to Robinson’s — they’ve lost nine today.
CUSTOMER: Well, when is your next round?
DEAD PERSON: I think I’ll go for a walk.
CUSTOMER: You’re not fooling anyone y’know. Look, isn’t there something you can do?
DEAD PERSON: I feel happy… I feel happy.
[whop – hits him over the head with a shovel]
CUSTOMER: Ah, thanks very much.
MORTICIAN: Not at all. See you on Thursday.
Is there any difference between this script and the actions of what Peggy Noonan calls "pull-the-tube people" They too have already assigned her as dead despite that she is probably at least in a "minimally conscience state." They find her existence annoying and not within regulations. They too are willing to help her along so that she will finally fit with the description they have applied to her.
On this Good Friday you do wonder what the "pull-the-tube people" would think of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I think they might have placed the following order on his tomb.
DNR: Do Not Resurrect