I have lots to say about people who think it’s okay to skip vaccinations out of fear of something that an asshole FAKED. People who are more afraid of dealing with hidden, likely genetic, disabilities rejecting the concept of herd immunity should keep their unvaccinated children out of the public. Continue reading “I will die on this hill…”
Only this one’s different. This one involves a pregnant woman, and the rules have changed. Because this is Texas, where, thanks to George W. Bush, fetuses trump everything, and the only sacred thing is birth. But this isn’t just about Bush and it’s not just about Texas, either.
Did you know that roughly one third of the United States have enacted similar laws? Where do you live? Have you checked the rules? Is there the remotest chance you could become pregnant, then incapacitated, and then be forced into the role of incubator at the pleasure of the State?
This article, from the Vermont Law Review, dates back to 2005, and was published shortly after Bush signed the bill into law in Texas.
But the article isn’t about Texas. It’s about New Hampshire. Which other states have such laws on their books? I can’t tell you. There is no quick summary to tell me which states ignore Advanced Directives in favor of pregnancy. And I’m not in a position right now to devote the time it will take to review the laws in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US territories.
I strongly suggest that if you have even the remotest chance of becoming pregnant and you think you have a Living Will or Five Wishes document in place, you check your state laws and make sure your family won’t be trapped in Erick Muñoz’s living hell.
We don’t understand nearly enough about the dying process that I would even consider the possibility of remaining on life support to continue carrying my unborn fetus, unless that fetus was near term. A couple of days? Yeah, I could see that, but Marlise Muñoz was barely out of the first trimester when she collapsed. Based on nutrition alone, that’s going to have a massive effect on the health of the baby. Then there’s the oxygen deprivation, circulatory regulation, and more.
And then, there’s the enormous load of ethical questions of cost for care and who should bear them. Texas is absolved of the responsibility. If the hospital shunts its responsibility back to the already grieving father who is taking legal action against the hospital, how is this even remotely right or responsible?
The question is so charged with ethical questions, in fact, that the first judge set to hear the case has recused herself. Don’t skip this article. It has links to a bunch of other related articles I won’t reproduce the links here, and to understand what’s happening in Texas, and could happen in your state as well, you need to read through all of them.
In fact, there are so very many questions, starting with the right to choose coming from the family, I can’t even begin to list all the reasons why this is so tremendously awful. It’s Quinlan and Schiavo all over again.
I recognize that I’m an atheist at best, but there’s doing what’s right and then there’s this. Religion and morality get in the way of doing the right thing and that’s the sole reason for the separation of church and state.
I find it profoundly disturbing that there is no simple summary of the states that would force a family to maintain a pregnant woman on life support as an incubator for her fetus. In fact, the laws are so variable I strongly suggest that if you have such a document in place, you investigate for yourself what your family will face if they have to make the decision for you.
Pregnancy is such a loaded event. It’s hard enough to imagine the responsibilities of caring for a person from birth through to adulthood. We invest so much in child bearing and so little in child rearing, and focus so much attention on abortion and choice, that we forget sometimes the state will trump our right to choose. If you think about it, you shouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that the next logical step is jail for miscarriage, but that’s the case in some of our states.
Government so small it fits into a woman’s uterus.
Think about it. Fight against it, because we’re just one thin line away from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
[Addendum 1: After publishing this post, I found the following link, to the Center for Women Policy Studies’ article entitled Pregnancy Exclusions in State Living Will and Medical Proxy Statutes. I strongly recommend this article if you or your child(ren) are of an age where pregnancy is an issue. Whether you live in one of the five states that allow advanced directives for pregnant women (Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Vermont) or not, pay very close attention to your state laws.]
[Addendum 2: MSNBC is reporting that John Peter Smith Hospital has been ordered by a Texas judge to remove Mrs. Muñoz from life support, no later than 5 p.m. CST on Monday, and that her death on November 28th places her outside the legal requirement for maintaining the acknowledged non-viable pregnancy. It is unclear whether the hospital’s administration will follow the judge’s ruling at this time.]
On Friday I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my evening and I spent well over an hour browsing through Netflix in the hope I would find something interesting. Rather than one thing, I found many, but couldn’t decide, and in typical fashion I complained on Facebook. (First World Problems, I know.)
I received instant feedback from three or four friends who were paying attention when I posted, and I followed through on one of the suggestions last night instead of attending a party because I was simply not in a party mood. Mad Men was a disappointment in just two episodes. Between the overt misogyny and the smoking, I couldn’t handle a third episode.
Now I know the series I want to see, but I don’t have HBO. So far, of the clips I’ve seen, I would LOVE the show The Newsroom because in as much as I’ve only caught snippets, Jeff Daniels’ character is dead on right about his assessment of our country, meaning Aaron Sorkin, the show’s creator has it absolutely right. The clip near the bottom of the article linked below is in the opening salvo…I mean first episode of the series.
thoughtcatalog.com: 10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America
The article’s author, Mark Manson, also has it right.
I am terribly tired of the jingoism and the reliance on our past successes as predictors of our rosy future as a country. I feel like I have to apologize whenever I visit Canada. I learned an awful lot about perspective last summer during a family road trip to Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. Seen from the other side of the U.S. border, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 look very different.
Read and learn. And if you don’t like what you’ve read, consider that we are not what we once were and do something about it. Many, many lives are at stake here.
I hope to be less embarrassed by my alcoholic country than I have been when I visit another’s in the future. I still hold my hand over my heart when I sing the Star Spangled Banner or say the Pledge of Allegiance, but it’s increasingly difficult to be proud of that allegiance.
Tomorrow marks what will likely be a historic set of opinions handed down from the Supreme Court. I hope the justices, and we all by extension, can rise above the filthy rhetoric of the far Right and recognize our duty to all citizens regardless of their orientation. The Prop 8 and DOMA decisions will not fix everything, especially as long as Citizens United, the Patriot Act and ALEC are the guides by which our laws are created in at least a third of our states, but they could go a long way toward addressing equality for all Americans, regardless of whom they love.
In 2005, I lost eight people (either through direct relationships with them or indirectly through my friends). Children, parents, people with whom I was friends, and one I worked with weekly as a parent in a co-op nursery school. I found I couldn’t make sense of some of the things I heard during the funerals I attended.
In January, 2006, I began to attend the Unitarian Universalist congregation I now call home. I’ve begun to make some sense of my reactions, even though I can’t make sense of losses on days like yesterday.
I’ve dealt with loss all my life. Some days I handle it better than others.
Are you having trouble wrapping your mind around what happened yesterday? Feeling numb? Not sure why?
Not feeling anything?
People grieve differently. They process horror differently.
In 1969, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published a book that described for the first time the five stages of grief. When I was in 7th grade, I took a class on death and dying, in part because of my mother’s long-term illness, but nothing prepared me for the reality of losing a close member of my family.
I learned a lot when my dad died in 2010, thanks to the hospice nurses in Colorado and the grief counselor I met with weekly near me at home. I understood on an intellectual level what I was seeing, knew the signs to watch for, and knew in my heart when my dad was truly gone for good.
I knew from the descriptions I heard that my mother in law was dying, that same year, because I had already experienced the steps with my dad. And I knew when I was going to lose two more friends in October and November of 2010.
I learned more when my friend Richard died at the end of that horrible year and took away Christmas for me. My greatest gift was the ability to talk with him before he died, and to be there with him and with friends the night before.
I will learn again as I watch one of my earliest friends in this area die from cancer over the next several months.
There are no words that provide as much comfort as a hug and a sharing of sorrow that comes from grief.
None of these deaths were brought about by someone else. None of them was the result of random violence, accidental association, or any other logical reason.
The deaths in Connecticut of twenty children and seven adults happened because someone took it on himself to play god, who had the means to accomplish this horrific act and who had no sense of the long-term, incomprehensible damage he would do, no thought to care about the ramifications of his act.
And more than anything else, he will never know the effect his senseless act of violence will have on our lives, on the lives of the people of Connecticut and most of all on the families of those he killed, because he killed himself, ending his mad spree of death.
As John Dickerson says in his article on Slate.com:
If you have trouble processing what happened yesterday, that might be one reason why you are numb. It’s too much to process all at once. You simply can’t do it.
There is no greater act of faith than waving goodbye to your kids on their way to school in the morning, thinking no matter how hard it was to get them to that point during the day, all the petty arguments or smiles you have with them might somehow disappear after they leave your sight.
Somehow, whether you are a parent or not, you can find a way to relate to the tragedy unfolding in Connecticut. Do what you can to come to terms with what you know, what you’re learning and what you will say to others, but take these things into consideration:
This is unimaginable. Christmas lights are already everywhere. In many of these houses, trees are likely already up, decorated and waiting for laughter and footsteps that won’t ever come on Christmas eve or Christmas morning.
There is still one day left to Hanukkah, one last, bright day when all nine candles burn brightly and then burn out.
Yesterday was the Sabbath, the day some people recognize for giving thanks for what they have, and bless their children.
Today we are left wondering what pushed the shooter over the edge. We are left to wonder whether we are still right to guarantee access to weapons that can do this damage. We wonder how we could have stopped this from happening.
But we’ve been wondering this for years.
We wondered at the tragedies in Blacksburg (Virginia Tech).* In Aurora. And in other places and at other times throughout our history. And I wonder how much longer it will take us to recognize that the question isn’t so much about access to weapons but how we treat our mentally ill and what we do to ease the pain of those who most need the help before they take it out on other people.
This isn’t about the 2nd Amendment. It’s about our attitude regarding those whose brains work differently from ours.
Give yourself time. Hug your kids. Curl up with popcorn and watch a movie. Make it something innocuous. Or play a game with them today.
And let your brain do its work.
When the time comes, give in. You’ll get there. Everyone does.
And then, start to take some action.
David Gerrold, who I follow on Facebook, Jason Alexander, an actor I’ve come to respect for any number of reasons, Jim Wright (Stonekettle Station), and others have all had things to say about senseless violence.
When you’re done reading all these things, go sign yourself up for an account on whitehouse.gov and sign this petition:
Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress.
and this one, too:
Make Mental Health a National Emergency
[note that the links are dead. Thanks, Trump!]
And after all that, restore your faith in humanity. Because you’re still here and you can.
*edited to fix an error gracefully pointed out by a reader…
[eta No, I don’t mean the musicians. Until today I didn’t know there *were* musicians named Euthanasia!]
Background: In junior high, I took a class on death and dying. I was particularly interested in the subject because of my mother’s illness. I think it’s likely that this class introduced me to the concept of Euthanasia. Somewhere in my hoard of school papers (now down to a measly banker’s box), there might still be a copy of the paper I wrote on the subject.
After my mother’s death in 1978, I paid attention to the news whenever the subject came up, but I wasn’t active in the discussion. It never dawned on me that I would have to confront the reality of long term debilitating illness again in my close family. I have no idea why I thought I was immune, other than that it seemed the problem skipped my father’s generation.
That’s horse manure, of course. His cousin Dick had it, and has likely died since my last contact with the family some eight or nine years ago. It runs through his mother’s side of the family – fully half her siblings died after long term bouts of dementia. And while it seems logical that my grandmother avoided it, one has to wonder about the hallucinations she was suffering in the year or so before her death. or the sanity of a woman in complete denial about how much she can afford to pay and whether she can live on her own with brittle bones and bad asthma. She was hospitalized for a mental imbalance in 1992 while I was dealing with my back surgery, and was gone one year later. It’s the asthma that finally killed her, because she refused to take her medicine. Suicide? Probably. Rational? No idea.
But now, with my father’s sudden and inescapable decline, the word has popped back up in my head again. A quick exploration of the Internet, and it’s clear that the group claiming the name Euthanasia.com is a member of the right-to-life movement. There was such a bill before the Maryland legislature, but it failed. I recall vaguely the matter coming up and being put down again.
In fact, the right to die has only been achieved in four states, with California considering it now.
I have a vague recollection that my paper from Junior High postulated that we are somehow less human because we can feel pity for an animal and are willing to put it to sleep when it’s clearly time (how do we know?!?) but that we can’t allow the same to be true for our fellow humans.
I think you probably know where I stand with this. My father made it all too clear. He told both of us: should he have to be institutionalized because of illness, he didn’t want it dragged out. He wanted the option to opt out.
I suppose it could be said that my sister and father should have moved to the northwestern US to ensure this could happen, but that’s not where they are and now the best we can hope for is to withdraw liquids when it comes time. We have no idea how long this will take. It could be years.
All of a sudden, I’m back in 1976 again, two years before my mother’s actual death from natural causes, the result of complications from her disease and of being bedridden nine years. We’re facing an epidemic in this country as the Boomer generation comes closer to the edge of the abyss. I’m at the tail end of that movement, because my parents waited until late to marry. My father is 31 years older than I am. It’s reasonable to assume he’s been dealing with this disease since at least 2005. The disease snuck up on us. Its affect are devastating to watch and I’m not even there in person to deal with the day-to-day horror of the loss of his intellect.
I suspect it’s a long trip we’ve started. I hope to whatever god is out there that I’m wrong and that the end comes quickly. It’s what he wants.
We’re so enlightened as a society. Why can’t we take the next step?
My experience has been that if you get lucky and your Dad lands In a hospital with physicians with an attitude in line with yours, they can work within the system to prevent things from dragging on. This is especially true if your Dad’s Advance Medical Directive indicates he does not want to be artificially given nutrition if he can’t feed himself. When my Dad was in ICU, nobody there was putting pressure on us to keep his corpse going. After a week we withdrew support and he was allowed to finally die. I’ll hope for things to go well for your Dad.
A detailed living will can definitely help. Include direction re feeding tubes and suchlike.
Either my mother or I get mail from at least one if not more right-to-die groups. Hemlock society is one of the ones that comes to mind, though I’m pretty sure that’s not the name of the group that was mailing.
:searches hemlock society and finds a bunch of stuff, including http://www.compassionandchoices.org/, whose name rings a bell:
“euthanasia” is rarely used on the pro side of the discussion. The string you want is likely “death with dignity” or perhaps “right to die.”
And I had to read your title multiple times before it finally dawned on me that you weren’t looking for singing groups who tended to sing about the merits of euthanasia.
Oh good, it wasn’t just me that thought in terms of singing group first! LOL!!!
Shows how out of touch I am with the current music scene! LOL!
I wonder if they cover Bohemian Rhapsody?
DNR = DO NOT Rescuscitate (sp?) order. You have to have one in place or the hospitals will do “heroic measures”. Having gone through all of the above with various relatives….
Just wanted to say I am so sorry. It sucks.
I don’t have anything useful to add, other than you know my phone number & email.
It’s been a long time since I waxed philosophical. I guess Spring brings it out of me.
First, before I get to the discussion, I want to repost the UU Principles, because I’m going to come back to them in a bit. If you don’t read them now, you might want to go back and read them after you read the rest.
There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
- Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
- Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
- Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
- Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.
Honestly, I don’t know why it took me so long to just say I was UU and get on with it.
Now, here’s what I experienced on Sunday:
I attended two services last Sunday. The first (to which we arrived late because it’s hard to drag small children out of warm beds at 8am) was held outdoors at the home of two of our members. It was cold (near freezing) but there was a bonfire and the sun was gloriously up in a clear, blue sky.
The service was led by both our current minister and our minister emeritus. There was an altar with a chalice which may or may not have stayed lit. The first part had to do with the darkness and light, with the spring and its relationship to our various religious sources. The second had to do with the renewal and rebirth that comes in Spring. An interesting parallel was drawn in the death of Jesus, the symbolic shutting out of the light into darkness (winter) and the subsequent ressurection (spring). This becomes important in the second service, but I’ll get there shortly.
There were additional rituals involved: In the first part, we each took a pen and paper and wrote down the things that weighted us down, and then tossed the paper in the fire to lift the weight of our own stones. You can probably guess what my paper said.
The second part involved taking a small bit of dirt and planting seeds in it, as a sign of renewal. (With my brown thumb these days, I have little hope that the plants will actually thrive, but it was a good thought at least.)
Many of the ancient gods and goddesses were thanked for bringing back the light and then we all went in, got warm and had breakfast.
In an hour and a half we were in the sanctuary, going through the usual rituals of service. Some of the traditions we keep each year (Easter bonnets, new clothes…) come from rites going back millenia.
Then there was the sermon. And in it I put together another piece of the puzzle that, for me, helps to explain what was being taught in 1BC and how it’s transmogrified over time to today’s view.
Rev. S. started the discussion by reading several passages from the bible: The passage about Peter and the denial, and about Judas and his suicide. And then, she moved on to Simon Paul and she shared that some believe he created Easter. That caught my attention.
I know that early Christian leaders often took existing “pagan” rituals and incorporated them as Christian holidays so that those who were not already Christian could relate in some way to the new faith. But somehow I had thought that Easter was somehow different. I don’t know why. The equinoxes certainly have their places in historic religions, though not as high on the list as the solstices. Still, with eggs and rabbits and chicks as universal symbols of Easter, it’s pretty obvious that the whole ancient fertility ritual was incorporated to make a connection to the ressurection of Jesus. I get that.
But what I hadn’t gotten until Sunday was that there was a question about the actual corporeal “rising of Christ” that makes Easter Sunday such a big deal. I didn’t realize how many Christians didn’t believe in the literalness of that event.
Ok, so for me (agnostic that I am), egg dyeing and chocolate are far more synonomous with Easter than anything to do with celebrating the rising of Jesus, but that’s because it’s another pagan ritual and, frankly, it’s fun. But I really hadn’t given it so much thought until this year.
Why is it the belief of so many that Jesus walked on earth again and why do people cling to this as a sign of hope in this sometimes bleak world? I just didn’t get it. Sure, there are ghosts. I do believe in that. But ghosts don’t come back in that traditional sense.
So… Here’s what I heard last Sunday.
What Jesus was teaching was mainly the same seven principles UUs believe. These concepts, presented at a time when Jews were kept under the thumbs of the Romans, were detrimental to the Roman priests because without the attention of the populace, their temples would fall and they would lose their hold on the people as a result (and all that nifty income in the form of tribute to the gods). No priest could safely preach that god could be found inside each person – there would be no reason to go to the temple and pay to be saved.
As I understand it, his basic teaching was that you could find the kingdom of heaven within yourself and to mistreat others was to mistreat yourself. People have misinterpreted what Jesus was saying: “If you believe what I believe, you’ll get there, too.” Instead they heard “Only through me.” Believe in Jesus and you’d be saved. It should have been “Believe in what Jesus is saying and you’ll save yourself.”
So, here we are, with the Romans seeing the following Jesus brought with him to Jerusalem for the Passover Seder, and they saw a threat to their cozy existence living off of believers of the gods.
Interestingly, earlier that week I watched a history channel program on “Machines of the Gods” which made the priest’s role that much clearer to me, so when I was listening to the sermon, I had these images of how the priests ensured people would come (and pay) to be protected.
The 13 desciples (including Judas, at least for a while) believed what Jesus did. Whether Judas did what he did because he stopped believing or believed so strongly that he was willing to martyr himself to forward the cause is really irrelevant. Peter stopped believing and was repentant after Jesus was gone, but only after denying he knew the man as predicted. Paul still believed but couldn’t figure out how Jesus’ death could be reconciled with the concepts Jesus taught.
And then, it struck Paul: He didn’t need the physical Jesus there in order to keep believing what he’d been taught. He still had faith in the teaching, though the teacher was gone.
How often do we hear that even though someone has died, that person is still with you?
Got me, hook, line and sinker. I got it.
And I find it terribly interesting that in the face of what Jesus was trying to teach, the medieval Christian priests took a page from the book the Romans wrote hundreds of years earlier, and suddenly people were paying them to be saved, only through miracles and by coming to the church to pray (and by renouncing everything else in the bargain).
So that leaves me with something else: I am donating money to my church because we do things and because upkeep is expensive. What I pay for in exchange is given in part to maintain the building, in part to pay my minister’s salary, in part for charity to other members (as needed), in part to build for activities we partake in as a group. I don’t pay because I fear that if I don’t, I won’t get to heaven.
For us it’s all about community and not about being saved. Perhaps that’s why we’re so much more interested in making sure our planet is protected. We aren’t all convinced that the place we’re going to is better than this one and that we need to be better about caring for ourselves and our future here, rather than treading water until we go to paradise.
Now I know not every Christian feels that way. I know plenty of people who listen to the message and don’t necessarily idolize or even deify the man. But I can’t help wondering what kind of people would pay so much to belong to a church and call themselves Christian, then turn around and throw in the trash bags full of perfectly good clothing and toys because, after all, they have no further use for the objects. (Collected the bags in my car, from a Curb Alert on Freecycle, because I couldn’t stand the thought that these things could go to a dump.)
Maybe if we spent a little less time thinking about where we’re going in the end, and spent a little more time thinking about where we are right now and what it’s going to be like in the coming years, we wouldn’t be pouring our money into a useless war that only benefits the very few with their money invested in oil.
After all, who would Jesus bomb?
So, here I am, sitting at breakfast, trying to explain to my kid why we vote.
It’s a good thing there isn’t school today. I’m moving slower than molasses.
And when I went out to take another load of trash to the curb, I discovered one last attempt by another city council hopeful on my door.
I’m officially in no-electioneering-beyond-this-point mode this morning. I’ve made all the decisions, done all the research I plan to do at this point.
We’re off to the store for Claritin for her (her nose started running yesterday – I’m betting it’s allergies), followed by a drive to the church to help paint more trim. After that, a trip to her old elementary school to register my votes for the appropriate candidates. [Edit: To follow naps and lunch, because both girls crashed in the car on the way home. They needed the break, obviously, because they decorated the church playroom with about thirteen gazillion sequins and rhinestones while I was painting the trim in the main entry. Fortunately for them, the card was pretty, and I’m not interested in serving a jail sentence, but still…]
I’m pumped. This election ought to be the turning point, and the key to getting underway the impeachment process our President so richly deserves. All it will take is five seats in the senate. That’s all. November 7 is the day after my birthday, but I’m hoping to make it the bigger celebration.
Anyway, after that, we’re off to ballet, then returning home for Tuesday Night Sewing at my place. (You’re welcome to tag along if you’re reading this.) I’m planning to watch the returns intermittently throughout the evening, and possibly 1776 or something else equally patriotic. Someone suggested Jefferson in Paris. I could get behind that…
Tomorrow seems to be a normal boring Wednesday. Gym in the morning, stuff in the afternoon. I wonder if I’ve forgotten anything?
Lots of this stuff doesn’t make sense. Fortunately (?) those of us who do give a damn and go vote on nights like this will be the ones who direct the results of the November election. I checked in an hour ago and they were giving up on predicting anything. Everybody’s split either 50/50 or 30/30/30. Wheee…
I’m not going to stay up all night waiting for the votes to tabulate. I am, however, going to check first thing in the morning, in the hope that there’ll be some clear lines.
Frankly, nothing would please me more than to see Schaeffer go. There’s other folks, too, like Johnson, I’d like to see go away. (Nothing galls me more than taking credit for someone else’s work.)
I feel a lot like a walking billboard these days. I haven’t taken my ThinkBlueDems band (the blue one) off since I got it from my BiL, except that I gave the original one away and this is the second one. The Choice band (white) came from a friend (the one who got the first blue band), and the third (red) just got to me via werewulf (HOPE, for the National MS Society). Red, white and blue, and none of this namby pamby ribbon stuff.
Except that my birthday immediately precedes the election, I can’t wait for November.
My sister, who apparently is like-minded, just emailed me the contents of this article: The Motherhood Manifesto.
Mothers in America are in serious need of a new deal to remedy a profound wage gap with other working women and men, and an outdated family support structure.
I’ve had this post brewing in the back of my mind since I started listening to Rent (and really, since I saw the movie last fall).
I think my thoughts have solidified enough to write what I’ve been thinking, on and off, over the months.
Warning!!! Serious musings on the value of life, the meaninglessness of death, and other associated issues follow. Some seriously graphic depictions of a chronic illness – of which some of my friends have been diagnosed, are described. Please read at your own risk.
I am 42 years old at the writing of this post. I will be 43 this coming November.
While this may not seem to be a significant birthday to most of you, for me it’s a major milestone.
My mother (born on in 1934, died in 1978), was 43 years old when she finally succumbed to Chronic Progressive (now called Primary Progressive) Multiple Sclerosis.
She was bedridden, unable to do anything for herself, from approximately 1968/69 until her death. Her doctors treated her with cortisone, but it didn’t help and she eventually moved home to be cared for by her parents, including her father (a General Practitioner for his neighborhood).
I was 14.
This is background information, intended to explain why I am suddenly obsessed (I don’t think there’s a better word right now) with listening to the music – and particularly the words – of the soundtrack. It’s not really a music virus. I’m attempting to absorb the incongruity and irony that is Rent. It is a monument to survival in the face of difficult, sometimes horrifying circumstances. And it was written by someone who faced his own final deadline without knowing it.
“No day but today,” indeed.
If one was to investigate why I have taken on so many time-intensive projects, why I have felt the need to commit my self and my time so often and so intensely, one really only has to look at the first three paragraphs, and to listen to the music and the words of Rent to fully understand.
Life is short. It’s an overused cliche and a state of mind all at the same time – a personal philosophy which very often drives my sense of purpose.
It’s impossible to pack everything into a single life. There isn’t enough time in the day, not enough energy in the world. But that simple phrase – no day but today – explains so much about why I find it so utterly offensive that anyone could condone the taking of life (ANY life).
I don’t have answers. I don’t know what to do if someone else takes a life. Is it okay to take that person’s life in exchange? I don’t know. I suppose it’s appropriate to think, in theory, that by taking a life one forfeits the right to keep one’s own, but do any of us have the right to take that life? How can we say that it’s okay to take a life in one case and not okay to take a life in another, depending on circumstances?
Those who speak on behalf of the righteous believe that they have the authority to do as they please, based on their conception of “right” and “law.” I believe there are basic rights and laws that are incontrovertable and not definable by any written work. And yet…
There is the question of abortion. There is the question of capitol punishment. There is the question of justice in the face of an attack on innocent bystanders who happened to get to work too early in the morning and were in the path of incoming airplanes carrying other innocent bystanders. There is the “rescue” of a people oppressed, who then take the opportunity to incite civil war based on religious belief.
How do we reconcile ourselves to allow one of these acts and not another? How can people look at each other and decide, based on belief, that one person should be allowed to live while another should die?
And, in the end, what do we accomplish when we set out to “protect” one life from being taken by another? At what cost?
I’ve been accused of being idealistic. Unrealistic. A pacifist (and that’s apparently an evil thing to some people).
I don’t have answers to these questions, but they are burning me up inside. I am trying to coexist with an increasingly hostile environment. And the only thing that saves me from moving on to something “better” is that I have no clear assurance that there is, in fact, something better. I think there may be something different, but I have no guarantees that this is the case. And I have learned that there is no better purpose to life than to live it here and now.
I can intellectualize life in 40 years. I have extant examples of people who live well into their 90s – even in my own family. But I also have shining examples of extended life gone horribly wrong, too. It shows in the face of my mother-in-law every time we go to visit her in the nursing home. She and my mother (had she lived) would be near the same age. It shows in the vivid descriptions of my friend’s father, who suffers from dementia. It shows in my family history – where we live to old age if we don’t die of cancer, but with dementia, or heart disease, or blindness, or in some other enfeebled state. None of my oldest relatives, save possibly Great Aunt Annie and First Cousin Thrice Removed Harry, maintained useful lives into their 90s.
There is, in fact, no day but today.
So how do I reconcile this knowledge with seeking out life-threatening activities in the name of protection and service? The short answer is, I can’t. I am told that it must be done. Someone has to do it. My response is “why?” All the justification in the world doesn’t seem to make it better, when those who should serve to protect my interests fail to understand what my interests are and how I interpret them.
The Earth is a wonderful land. It truly is. Anyone who has visited the Grand Canyon or the California Redwoods or the wilds of the Adirondack mountains knows what I mean. I can’t speak for other lands – my experience is far too limited, but I can take what I know of North America and extend it globally. And if we don’t start recognizing that what we have is a gift (from God or whatever), and that it and ALL its people with the same respect and reverence, then in the end we will have nothing.
When I see global warming warnings brushed aside in the name of our human importance and our innate right to do as we please, when I hear that we can go to war against a people because we are protecting another people, when I hear that a person may be killed for the $60 someone else thinks is more important than the life of that person, I feel ill.
We will soon be short on doctors. We will lack teachers to teach the people how to save themselves. We will descend into the next Dark Ages as our world heats up. And we will have no one to save when that time comes. It won’t be my children who will see this horrible change, but their children, or their children’s children. A few generations more and the only thing left will be the cockroaches and a few stragglers who will be left to pick up what’s left.
Can we break the cycle? I wish I knew – for the sake of my children. I want them to know a world where everyone is treated the same, regardless of the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, or their last name. I want them to know a dark sky filled with stars. I want them to see a world where people respect each other, help each other. Where one person’s worth is not judged by his bankbook or her DVD collection or the political connections he has.
And for me? I wish I had more time. And if I didn’t that I knew when I was leaving, so that I could plan accordingly.
And that I could do something to make this world better than it is right now.
And that my actions would inspire other people to do the same.
And finally, that nobody would have to experience what I have. But then, I guess people don’t learn unless they have examples, do they?