A Cautious Man
April 02, 2005
 
Public and Private Things
We've been inundated with news about a woman's very public death, which should have been private. We're now observing the last hours of a very public man, being allowed to die in private, at home. I can't help noting that the Pope has been allowed to remain at his residence, instead of being rushed to the hospital to be hooked up to various devices. Apparently, Sean Hannity was not inclined to move his circus tent from Florida to Rome, demanding additional treatment for the Pope.

As attention moves from one death, on to the other, I guess it's too much to hope that the politicians not revisit poor Ms. Schiavo's case, to advance their own political agendas. An editorial in yesterday's New York Times provided some thoughts, which should be kept in mind in the future:
Americans are a deeply pragmatic people, who constantly surprise ideologues of every persuasion with their willingness to accept whatever solution seems to work best at the moment. Our great ideals, when they are boiled down at a moment of crisis, often turn out to be mainly instincts - for fairness, for the right of individual self-determination or sometimes just for the pursuit of happiness. Watching the Schiavo case unfold, most Americans quickly opted for the solution that would end the ordeal.

Some people hold religious convictions so heartfelt that they could not bow to public opinion or the courts and accept the conclusion that Ms. Schiavo should be allowed to die. They deserve respect, just as her husband and her other relatives deserve sympathy.

Those relatives also deserve to be left alone, to be protected from a spotlight that turned a family tragedy into an international spectacle of sometimes shocking vulgarity and viciousness. The case attracted outsiders in search of little more than another opportunity to further their own self-aggrandizement. But worst of all were the powerful people who looked at the world we live in today, in which politics is about maximizing hysteria at the margins, and concluded that the Schiavo fight was a win-win - for everyone but the people who actually cared about the dying woman.
The whole editorial is at this link (You can use "CautiousMan" as a user name, and "Cautious" for the password).

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