The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

Quality of Life

To continue in the vein of 'Life in an Ambulance' I want to reflect on the absurdity of our culture's attitudes toward life. If you haven't read 'Life,' you should, it'll give you some bkgd. It's 2 entries down.

So, our country pays taxes to provide health care to everyone, to provide some sense of quality to life by removing ailments, or, when severe episodes occur, to rush them to the hands of well-educated people who can prolong their lives.

But, we look around today and see arguments about life everywhere. I want to come down on neither side--simply to observe this truth. We have lobbyists arguing about when life begins, lawyers, judges, and congresspersons all weighing in however they can. Abortion is a hot button issue that divides the country. We are arguing about when life begins and/or when that life has its own liberties and individual rights. If we call a 'fetus' an 'unborn child' then we have the issue of what to do when the child's right life conflicts with the mother's choice. But, the conflict of individuals' freedoms is nothing new, we have the legal system to arbitrate between any two parties who are asserting conflicting, personal liberties.

On the other end of 'life,' we have arguments regarding the 'right to die.' We are arguing about Terry Schiavo and the conflicting liberties between her, her husband, her parents' wishes. It has become an issue of the quality of life. At what point is life not worth living? That is the question we're asking. Mrs. Schiavo lay in a highly-debated state of conciousness but certainly could not make her present wishes known to anyone. She may or may not have made them known prior to the tragedy that had befallen her.

Here she was now: semi-coherent at best, being fed through a tube and kept alive thus, bound to a hospital bed. Was the quality of her life worth living for? She was not contributing to society in any tangible way. Her remaining alive was a burden to her husband but a hope to her family. We have no idea whether or not she had any ability to appreciate the care she was being given, the controversy she was causing, or the simple fact that she was alive.

At what point is life not worth living? That is the question we come up against. If quality of life is the determining factor in choosing whether we, or others, live or die, that is the question we must answer. Until some sort of agreement is reached on the terms that define quality of life we will continue to fight these embittered battles.

I do have another suggestion for how we might think about live, but I really must get back to work.