Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Euthanasia and Co-Dependency

The Pope wasn't the only person who passed away while I was taking a blogging break.

This third attempt by the courts to end Terri Schiavo's life succeeded. And as a result I can't help but think that we as a nation failed. The polls that showed that nearly 70% of Americans supported the removal of her feeding tube utterly astound me. This was not, as some seemed to think, an issue that followed the usual political divides. Conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, supported ending her life.

I commented earlier that I thought the reason so many people supported removal of her feeding tube was because we fear that we may one day be in that state ourselves, and because we don't think we could handle it, we don't really want her to handle it either.

Rachel Rose, guest-blogging for her daughter at The Dawn Patrol, says this is an issue of co-dependency. (Now there's a psychobabble phrase I haven't heard in quite awhile. I think it's fallen out of vogue.)

It must have been about 15 years ago. The concept of co-dependency was just making the rounds at the time. A friend of mine was interested in learning more about it. She decided to attend an open Codependents Anonymous meeting. When I met her afterwards, I asked her how it went. "Ridiculous", she replied. "There was a woman there who described her mother as saying, "Here, take a lozenge. I have a sore throat."

"What's wrong with that?" I playfully rejoined.

This funny episode became a sad object lesson to me today, as I began to see my American brethren as (maybe) fitting into the roles of just "co-dependent" people, good people, compassionate people, but pathologically overidentifying with how they thought they would feel in Terri's place. It is, of course, impossible for anyone to know how they would really feel. Any student of elementary logic knows that A cannot be B unless all the attributes of both are equal. This is one of the big rational problems with relativism. Yet, these moral relativists were in so much pain looking at Terri and thinking about how they thought she must be feeling. There had to be a way to stop those intolerable feelings. "That's it!" they concluded.

"Here, Terri. Let's have your feeding tube. I have a sore psyche."

Sure it's darkly amusing, but I think there's something to this connection between co-dependency and our cultural support of euthanasia and doctor-asssisted suicide.


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