When I was small, children were taught not to tell lies. In fact, I remember some switchings when I got caught in a "little fib." When we asked why we were told "because it's wrong."
That was easy enough to remember because we were taught a lot of things that were "right" and "wrong." It's right to help someone in need and to share what you have. It's right to take responsibility for what you do; it's right to tell the truth.
The other side of the coin was just as clear. It's wrong to cheat, no matter how much easier things would be if you did. It's wrong to steal -- either a person's possessions or his reputation. It's wrong to tell a lie.
Honor was important and not telling a lie was very much a part of honor. People should be able to trust you and your word. If you gave a promise you kept it.
My generation pretty much took that for granted. We expected to tell the truth and expected people to tell the truth to us and that worked pretty well until we began to notice, sometime in the '70s or '80s that there were quite a few people who didn't seem to function that way.
Then came President Clinton. He lied under oath -- an intentional, premeditated, out-and-out lie -- to a Grand Jury. An offense that, thirty years before, was a felony (A person is guilty of perjury, a felony of the third degree, if in any official proceeding he makes a false statement under oath or equivalent affirmation, or swears or affirms the truth of a statement previously made, when the statement is material and he does not believe it to be true) for which he would have been convicted, removed from office and sent to jail.
But the argument was that it was all right to lie under oath if it's on a private, personal matter.
So here we are. Terri Schiavo did not leave a "living will" instruction as to what she preferred in a medical situation like the one she has been in for 15 years.
In the early years, Michael Schiavo said they had never talked about such things because "I was young." But when she was awarded millions of dollars for medical care and therapy, he changed hs mind. With dollar signs in his eyes, Michael suddenly "remembered" that she had, indeed, said she didn't want to be kept on life support systems.
Somewhere in there is a lie. Michael either lied when he said she didn't or he lied when he said she did. So Terri is, in effect, murdered by a lie.
Today Michael says there's only $50,000 left of the millions but, of course, he's not counting the investments he's made and the dollars he's tucked away. The house he lives in far exceeds in value anything a part-time nurse could afford -- and that's what Michael is. A part-time nurse who couldn't keep a job because of his temper.
But back to more questions. I made a living will several years ago but I've asked that it be torn up because I now understand something I didn't know when I made it. That is, there's a difference between life support and life sustenance.
Life support is when they use machines to keep the lungs and heart going. Life sustenance is food and liquids -- something we all need to stay alive and must have every day. I prefer not to rely on machines to keep me alive; but I expect sustenance -- food and water -- if everything else is working.
Why, you wonder? Because I have seen such amazing progress in medical science in such a short time that I believe eventually every medical problem will be solved. I have seen people with half their brain removed recover so that they look normal, with perhaps the slightes ataxia (shaking) in one hand. I know that people who have been "vegetables" have recovered.
Most of all, I believe in life. It is totally wrong to judge a situation and say that it is hopeless UNLESS that situation is death.
Death is irreversible. When someone goes into death all their promise, all they are..is gone and can't be retrieved. With death there is no hope.
It is inexcusably wrong to kill an innocent, living human being. It is wrong to say that she is now what she always will be -- life proves every day that nothing stays the same and medical science continues to surprise us all.
A judge sentencing a living, breathing, laughing Terri Schiavo to death makes a lie of justice.