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The heart of Terri Schiavo

By Michael Moriarty
web posted March 28, 2005

Terri SchiavoToday the United States awaits the final beat of a heart that has dominated the headlines for weeks. On either side of Terri Schiavo's deathbed stand her parents whose pleas to the doctors and Supreme Courts of both the State of Florida and the federal government have gone almost unheard. The parents' desire for their daughter to be put back on life support is denied.

Shadow versus Symbol

To the Supreme Courts and Terri's husband Michael, Terri is merely a shadow of her former self. To her parents, their daughter is the symbol of a heart, the first glimpse of life on an ultra-sound machine. That very same heart made their own hearts leap in joy and, well, the rest you can imagine for yourselves, particularly if you've had children of your own.

To one side of this horrid dilemma, that still-beating heart is utterly inconsequential if it has no brain attached to it. To its parents, of course, it symbolizes their own hearts. Terri's death will, of course, tear a large chunk out of her parents' faith in justice and the medical lobby's sworn commitment, under the Hippocratic Oath, to serve life and not death.

These feelings, to an increasingly indifferent scientific and judicial arm of the United States, are sentimental, romantic,
self-indulgent, antiquated and vestigial – useless for the future of mankind.

What is merely a shadow of a human being to the deciding elite is a very important symbol to Terri's parents.

The Hounds of History

Michael Schiavo apparently wants to move on with his life. This desire of his has, for better or for worse, placed the face of his previous wife Terri indelibly on his name and, as the questionable death of a wife is inextricably wedded to her husband's name, the same phenomenon will occur with this gentleman. He will be haunted by the memory of his wife to eternity.

To me, this is the unremitting justice of history. Regardless of the "indifferent" lobby's opinion, there is an afterlife on earth called history. These veritable "hounds of historic memory" will pursue Michael Schiavo beyond his own death. This is not a spiritual hypothesis. It's a plain fact. Therefore, as historians examine the particulars of this nightmare, the names of these state and federal Supreme Court justices will also be indelibly married to that of Michael Schiavo. It is now what that man and his supporters symbolize to the rest of the human race.

So does that "shadow of a woman" carry any meaning now? Of course it does. Terri's continued maintenance on life support inflicted a major inconvenience on her husband, financial and otherwise. However, is inconvenience a just cause for what might be described as criminal neglect?

That is for history to determine and if these gentlemen, so dedicated to their idea of "tough love," are satisfied with their decisions, then the rest of their lives will still be up to them to live and history to record.

Love and Courage

The heart has for millennia symbolized love and courage. With the Third Millennium Leadership's increasing devotion to the wonders of the human mind when compared to the mute thuds of a human heart, an institutionalized, uncontested preeminence of thought over a symbol of life itself has been inscribed as indelibly as the record of Terri's death will be.

Even the conservative, spasmodically pro-life voice of business has supported Terri's husband. The costs alone, like those of sheltering convicted murderers, make life support counterproductive to the community. Therefore, the pro-capital punishment constituency will most likely welcome Terri's death. That she committed no crime is no more persuasive than a pro-choice woman's decision to abort her child for being an inconvenience to her lifestyle.

It sort of makes a weird kind of sense, doesn't it?

Well, not to me, but I'm a romantic. I believe that a human race without sentiment is worse than one with excessive sentimentality. The wheels of historical justice will eventually vindicate the intolerable pain that Terri's parents are now suffering.

The visionaries of the postmodern world of the United Nations believe that the moral delusions of the entire Judeo-Christian civilization – America in particular – will be exposed as such and its memory relegated to a Dark Age, which will eventually be as relevant to man as his ancestor's evolution in the Cro-Magnon era. To these postmodern visionaries, the ultimate triumph of science is inevitable.

I personally believe that the zenith of this value system will face its Waterloo in the election year of 2008. The socialist federations of the United Nations – and the American scientists, artists and philosophers who agree with its ideology – will see a majority vote "no" to it for a third time. America's voters will elect another George W. Bush, who has clearly stated on several occasions that he opposes Terri's being taken off life support.

This will of course place the United States on the record as being for the heart of love and courage over the increasing obsession with the powers of human intelligence. The drama of Terri Schiavo will be a seminal chapter in America's Third Millennium History. That and the eventual overturning of an abomination devised by the Supreme Court – the Roe v. Wade decision of January 1973 – will mark an end to the intolerably deep inroads of an indifferent and scientifically tyrannical philosophy carved into an America that was originally founded upon our "inalienable right to life."

If Terri Schiavo isn't at the heart of the matter, then 1.5 million abortions in the United States each year have no more meaning than the death of one million Africans every year from starvation, ethnic cleansing and genocide, which the UN has neglected as indifferently as the Supreme Court rendered its decision to stop Terri Schiavo's heart.

Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who has appeared in the landmark television series Law and Order, the mini-series Taken, the TV-movie The 4400 and Hitler Meets Christ, a surreal tragicomedy based on the actor's controversial New York stage play.


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