Yesterday I went grocery shopping — a ritual which sometimes leaves me pissed off, cold, and angry at society. But yesterday was different: yesterday it felt as though I were being followed by a Gospel choir with Donna Summer as lead gospeller and the bass were ringing Hallellujahs. Okay. As I went in, it did help that “Hot Stuff” was playing over the loudspeaker, but what I saw all around me were happy families. Large families and small. Friends, and people just off from work. Easter decorations. People happily engaging in the Paschal acquisition of groceries. And it was good. It was good mostly because many of these families looked happy to be together again: the husbands, the friends, the aunts and uncles, the wives have all recently returned from Iraq, making our little neck of the woods less like the awful tomb it had become and more like a happy celebration and triumph over adversity. And a whole hell of a lot more fun to grocery shop in.
But what truly got me thinking about all of this is… well…. I don’t want our soldiers to go back. Call me selfish, but I saw far too many happy families yesterday to think that this war warrants seeing the smiles disappearing from their faces and their having to deal with the anxiety, sorrow, and uncertainty of going back. Going back to a place where they are not truly wanted –even if there seems to be gratitude of their being there. Going back to possibly die. Going back and leaving wives, husbands and children and leaving them to walk around like the living-disgruntled they’d become…. once again. And what is slowly dawning on my strange-thinking head is this: the government is so self-satisfied with their actions and their justification for them that they’d rather focus on Theresa Schiavo and whether removing her feeding tube is murder or not, than willingly stopping the systematic deaths of our troops and of more Iraquis, in a war that we most likely cannot ever fully win.
They would rather focus on a woman whom experts have deemed brain dead and not sentient of pain. A woman who trusted her husband to not keep her alive in a limbo. And yet, a woman whose selfish, sick, idolatrous parents keep worshipping the hollow shell of her body and striving to keep her alive. Don’t they know that all who try to keep her alive … *places Bible-Thumping hat on*… in their zeal not to break the sixth commandment (“Thou shalt not murder, yo”) are breaking the SECOND one!?!?!?! AAARGH! Bunch of assholes!! Whatever happened to not worshipping any other “craven images”? Poor Mrs. Schiavo cannot defend herself because she’s really only technically alive! Some nurse claims that she can utter basic words and signal when she is in pain. Well…. so if she can communicate basically, why hasn’t anyone tried to establish a binary system in which she can answer basic questions? How about the old, “one blink is “yes”, two blinks are “no”? How about, “Did you really tell your husband you didn’t want to be kept alive?” Is it because perhaps she really cannot do these things and those who love her cling to whatever small movements her atrophied brain produces and use them as markers of improvement? We can’t ever know for sure. But we know through Mrs. Schiavo’s husband that she didn’t want this agony to continue. She didn’t want to become a poster woman for extremist pro-lifers who are instead sleeping soundly at night with the sending of thousands of people with their whole lives ahead of them –people with or without families, but people who are clearly alive and living– to die in a war that is slowly becoming a stalemate in a permanently vegetative state.