Rear Window Ethics Rear Window Ethics: Shiavo

Monday, March 28, 2005


I had no intention of writing about the national uproar concerning Terri Shiavo and the terrible circumstances that have befallen her and her family. To be honest, I felt it was a non-story that tragically occurs every day in America -- a single occurrence that had been hijacked by various people of influence to promulgate their ideologies. Perhaps my aversion to the issue itself was responsible for my week-long draught of posts.

As I said, I had no desire or intention to chime in on what I consider to be a private family matter that has become a national spectacle, because I think the only people that should really talk about it are the people closest to and most informed of the situation. After hearing a sermon on the resurrection at Easter services, however, I decided I had to get some things off of my chest.

The sermon did not take sides on the medical diagnosis in the Shiavo case, nor did it bring up the issue of separation of powers or Federalism as outlined in our constitution. It simply noted the fact that, according to the New Testament, this mortal life was never meant to be the end of our journey. The argument of the religious right somehow neglects this concept. That Jesus died, was buried, and rose to eternal life is not only the message of Easter, but it's also the over-arching tenet of Christianity as a whole. The faith that we go to a better place upon death is the basis for Christianity, yet that very belief has been absent from the arguments of those that so vehemently claim to espouse Christian principles.

As for the secular left, they shouldn't see religious beliefs as scary or dirty. The resurrection of Christ, according to scripture, was an event difficult to believe by even some of Jesus' own followers. Faith cannot be debated, and it most certainly cannot be imposed by those in power. When matters of faith and religious belief are brought forth in such a way that those who choose not to believe are truly threatened, it is an improper application of those principles.

It's a terrible situation that this woman and her family are going through, though it is a situation that many people face every day. If their faith can help them come to terms with the inevitability of death for each of us, it is a good thing. If their belief in the resurrection and the life in the world to come helps them in this time, it is a good thing. Their faith and the faith of others should not, however, be dictated or imposed upon this nation's citizenry by law, no matter how passively.