Friday, March 25, 2005
An Open Letter To The Bush Brothers: Erring On The Side Of Life
In the photo from the Tucson Citizen, Jill Gwinn, 52, and her 13-year-old niece, are detained in connection with an egg-throwing incident outside Tucson Convention Center. The two were cited by police.
Would that life were like the shadow cast by a wall or a tree, but it is like the shadow of a bird in flight.
In other words, apart from the known and the unknown, what else is there?
A hundred thousand words are flowers in the sky
a single mind and body is moonlight on the water
once the cunning ends and information stops
at that moment there is no place for thought.
I don't know what it is about George, but everywhere I go the dude shows up. Buddy, my trip to Tucson this week was supposed to be strictly pleasure---and mostly it was!---but the whole place got knocked out of joint, which is typical for your "events", by your decision to have one of your "conversations" with us. We all remember how much you love Ohio and all the times you breezed through last fall. The one time I actually tried to catch a glimpse in Parkersburg, West Virginia, you left orders to greet me with a helmeted, black-uniformed, fully-armed SWAT team ( http://www.upsaid.com/jazzolog/index.php?action=viewcom&id=411 ). Well, I got the hint---so this time I checked my appointment book first---and, sure enough, I was not among the 1500 specially invited "guests" with whom you insisted on being surrounded at the Tucson Convention Center Monday ( http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/index.php?page=local&story_id=032205a1_bushmain ). Let's see, is that taxpayer money that pays for Presidential appearances?
So I spent Monday out in the Sonoran Desert. Wonderful wildflowers in bloom, and I think a golden eagle was calling up in those mountains. But I heard you 2 interrupted your other affairs to take an interest in the tragic Terri Shiavo case. It's certainly understandable because the whole country is talking about it...and the media covers little else. Jeb, I understand your government even extended your strong arm of custody her way to get rid of that husband ( http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/25/politics/25jeb.html?th&emc=th ). Certainly the Christian Conservative thing to do, sanctity of marriage and all! And George, you told us in Tucson that "...in extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wise to always err on the side of life" ( http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/index.php?page=local&story_id=032205trans1 ). I presume that's Life as in pro-life.
Of course boys, from your dossiers on war, interrogation of "suspects", and killing folks on death row, you lead the way in the political expediency of pro-life. (Interesting editorial in today's Forth Worth paper, George, about the 152 people executed in Texas while you were governor http://www.dfw.com/mld/startelegram/news/local/11228257.htm .) But I notice in the whole, difficult debate about the Shiavo case, one element has yet to be mentioned by anybody. Money. Surely a good person would cringe, especially during Holy Week, at the mention of cash in the argument---but its reality does emerge for someone who's been through any kind of significant medical procedure. I remember when we had to remind your father what shopping for a loaf of bread is like, so I know you haven't had to dirty your hands in your upbringing like the rest of us. When I noted to my doctor that recent X-rays she prescribed cost $2000, she said, "But the insurance pays for it." Yeah, and I have work-related insurance---so why do I even read the bills...except for the part that says, "You owe $10"?
My wife and I are in very large health insurance groups. I never was in a hospital until last year, and have paid a share of my health benefits through most of my 45 years of work experience. But this last year, various treatments for me have amassed colossal bills. I envision my attempts to continue to live have affected the potential income of colleagues in the Athens City Schools. I have concern about that and want them to know it. Were I in a smaller work situation, there is no doubt that fellow employees would be aware of my need for their help through our insurance plan. Employers sometimes try to get rid of staff who have chronic claims. Perhaps the Bush boys and their supporters don't need to think about these everyday needs, but I do have to.
I don't know anything about Michael Shiavo's insurance or monetary situation. I have no idea what 15 years of Terri's kind of care has cost---or if this issue even enters in. Boys, it's another angle on this I'm thinking about. Eighteen years ago next month, the issue entered my father's mind. I know it because he said so in his suicide note. I wrote the story about this a while back, and you may read it here~~~ http://www.upsaid.com/jazzolog/index.php?action=viewcom&id=41 . In a nutshell, my father faced a situation of increasing total care for his wife of 50 years. They were lifelong Republicans. At the time there was no insurance compensation for Alzheimer's, because the only diagnosis allowable involved an autopsy. I won't go into the details of his options and help offered by family right now, but I need to tell you ultimately it came down to seeing his savings and estate vanish in a flash. To prevent that (and leave a legacy for their grandchildren, he wrote) they carried out a secret suicide pact.
I don't think Michael Shiavo is facing anything like this kind of dilemma for himself, but there are increasing numbers of aging couples in this nation who do face it. Jeb 'n George, you're right: it is a complex case with serious issues. I think everyone's life becomes one, sooner or later...no matter what simplicity we strive for. You guys have stepped up to the plate and put your beliefs on the line. But I don't see clearly what they really are. I wonder how open you are to theological "conversations." Your governments certainly reek of religious dogma, but on this Good Friday what is it about erring "on the side of life" that seems so mandatory? Can you imagine standing on the strength of love?