Friday, March 25

"Good" Friday and the Value of Dignity

I'm sure there are countless other blogs expressing opinions and arguing sides regarding issues surrounding Terri Schiavo's situation. I know better than to try to address all of the factors involved, but I do have an opinion, and am incredibly grateful for the *privilege* (it's not a right) I've been given to express it.

Dignity. What is dignity? Why do we value it? Why do we consider it a right? Is it something we earn? Is it something we "deserve"? And if so, who determines that? Does every human being deserve it, or only some? Do animals? Trees? Or only those beings "created in the image of" God?

Does God value dignity? Does God exhibit dignity? On this day, Good Friday, above all others, I think we are reminded of the Truth. Dignity may be important but it is certainly not the most important thing there is. Love is more important. And Life is more important.

God Himself was whipped ("scourged," actually, which is in reality so much worse than even depicted in last year's controversially 'violent' movie about Christ's Passion and crucifixion), stripped, insulted, and spat upon, all in public view, not secluded in a hospital room. He had nails hammered through his hands and feet, and thorns crushed into his scalp. The only "food" offered him was a vinegar-drenched cloth, which would only increase, not quench, his thirst. There might be a few methods of dying in which there is little suffering, but most would agree that being deprived of oxygen (which the position of crucifixion makes inevitable), food or drink are among the most horrid.

How can someone say they value dignity, yet cause someone to suffer that much, for so long (Terri has been without her feeding tube for a week now)? Also, are not the same advocates of her death the same political group who champion rights of the poor and [because of economic or related reasons] food-deprived?

God the Father, the greatest giver of love in existence, allowed his Son to suffer an incredibly indignant, public death. God the Son endured said indignity for our sake, without one complaint or balk or last grasp at anything that He - rightly - deserved.

Do we deserve more than He?

No, there are no easy answers. But there are examples. And when we do not know the answer, should we not err on the side of caution? On the side of protecting life, protecting the life of someone we love, regardless of personal (i.e. caregiver) costs?

I would also like to share a story I just read, written by a woman who recovered from a 2-month coma and struggles herself with these difficult issues: While I Was Sleeping - Today's Christian. I have 2 acquaintances who have suffered brain damage in automobile accidents; one has recovered and to my knowledge leads a full, "normal" life. The other, whose accident was more recent, faces a long road toward recovery and I can only guess that her husband faces some of the issues that have faced Terri's husband over the years.

May those of us who seek to Glorify God and reflect His values seek His Word and His example in forming and expressing our personal convictions. And may we reach out to any personally affected by and struggling with these issues.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal Life." - John 3:16