The inspiration of this article came from a news segment from the morning news show, “Good Morning, America”. I‘ve forgotten the actual airdate, but I believe it was early spring, 2001.
There is a case before the California Supreme Court on whether a person has the right to live or die if they are in a vegetative state of life. The argument is: A woman says her husband died when an accident occurred that left him like a vegetable. The once virile body just forgot to shut down. The other side of the argument is: The man's mother says he recognizes her. The mother claims he has friends in the hospital and even though he has no communication with the outside world, he is still involved in his own world. The spouse has said that before the accident occurred, the husband told her that if anything happened to him that would leave him like the state he is in now, pull the plug. Mom on the other hand, has told the daughter-in-law to divorce him and that she would take care of her son.*
There was some inkling about the disposition of the case from the spouse's attorney, saying that he felt he had lost the case. The spouse's response is "I think positively”.
Thus we have a clash of two worldviews. On one hand, we have a person in a vegetative state. He cannot care for himself, society has no use for him. He is an expense that the family can’t afford and he is using up valuable air space. And on the other side of the table, we have the love of a mother who sees life as valuable, no matter what shape life takes on. To her and her belief, life is sacred and should be honored.
Ergo, the argument. Namely, the courts will have to decide whether or not to pull the plug on the husband/son. This case has put the court in a vulnerable position that, if I were a judge on the panel, I wouldn’t want to be in –that is the position of deity. By putting the judges in the place of the Almighty, they have to ask themselves the question: What makes up a life? They can't answer that question honestly. Today's rhetoric is that each individual’s life is subjected to it's own meaning of life. Who is then to say that this is a valuable life worth living and yours is just taking up valuable air.
Sadly, we are quickly becoming a culture that is doing away with absolutes. Absolutes give us our foundation for laws and morality. (Even the worst of governments’ laws are founded on some type of absolutes.) We have been doing away with them for the last past forty plus years and it is scary because we are seeing the first fruits of this wickedness. Namely, life has no value and if you can’t produce for society, you are not needed. Without an absolute, we have nothing to base anything on, because everything will seem right; even the decision of mortal men acting as gods.
By doing away with absolutes, we have sold out to two philosophies that go hand in hand; relativism and individualism. Relativism and individualism lead to the same demise, cancer of society. The foundation for our value system that was once firmly in place is now rotted away, and the individual is left to decide what is best for them; not what God might think, or what a loved one might think. If your life is deemed terminable by the state or by the individual, you just go to a doctor's office, or stay at home and the doctor comes to you and “relieves” you of this life. Undeniably, the argument will come up, "It's my life, I'll do what I'll want," or "George didn't want to live like this, give him a shot of morphine.” This begs several other questions such as: Is it your life? Did you create it and sustain it?
We must also remember that any person in pain will say or do anything to aleviate the pain. This does not mean they want to die; it means give them comfort.
For example: In September of 2000, I had a potassium deficiency. My heart could not find a rhythm. For a good portion of a day, I was watched very closely. I was that close to death. Coupled with that, I was having kidney problems. My body was not in the best shape. I couldn't move my legs or even scratch my head. If I followed the current belief that this is not a valuable lifestyle for myself, I could have told the doctors to stop giving me the potassium, and I would have died within two days. Never mind the fact that I would have ripped the heart out of my wife and my son, my parents, my siblings and the in-laws. Never mind the sense of loss that my friends at church and work would have felt. All that would have mattered is my life, which I deemed useless to everyone, would have ceased.
See how egocentric this all sounds? Society and our children need to be taught that life has value, not from what the individual thinks, but from what God thinks. We are not getting it in our schools, because a teacher is not to give an opinion, just regurgitate what the school board dictates. We are not getting it in the market places because our faith is just another belief among many that has no real impact(so we are told) in a cynical world. Even in some churches, we are not getting it because some churches care about what society has to offer, not what the Lord has to offer. It needs to be taught that life is not only sacred, but it has value, for the impact it makes on one's world and others who are touched by it every day.
We have reached a point in our lives where there are some of us whom, when faced with a tragedy will opt for a permanent retirement. There will be those who will support them in their decision. Then there will be the rest of us who will be suffering, not from the dire straights that the person found themselves, but from the loss of a loved one and the anger towards the person for giving up. I am not talking about a sudden death type of thing, but a person who may be on the verge of serious illness. Remember, a life, no matter what condition it may be in, is valid. God created it and it should be the Father’s say when to call the person home.
*By the way, the man in the above-mentioned story died of natural causes two weeks after the airing of the segment.
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Excellent insight my brother, and well done. - Jay Cookingham