Monday, March 28, 2005

MH - The Way of Suffering

The title of a very, very good column by Larry Kudlow at NRO. Kudlow, a Catholic convert and a man who has faced his own struggles over the years, is one of those few economists to grasp the subtle shades of life, that there is something to life beyond the raw numbers. Some economists may view Easter in economic terms, representing little more than lost revenue due to stores being closed, but Kudlow sees more to it than that. Doubtless being a convert has a little more than something to do with it.

I've been liking Kudlow more and more over the past few years, and never more so than in some of the things he's written regarding Terri. Read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt:
“Bid to Save Terri Schiavo Is All But Finished.” That was the Easter morning headline in the Washington Times. But she will ultimately be saved, either in this life or the next. As Father Neuhaus suggests in his exploration, Schiavo’s suffering is another example of those “who in their troubles find themselves, as they say, at the foot of the cross.” Haven’t we all been there? Isn’t suffering in pursuit of God’s will the exact center of religious life? Isn’t the life of faith all about steep costs and consequential losses on the road to greater wisdom and a better, more faithful life?

For those who understand, accept, and believe in this, Father [Richard] Neuhaus is certainly right when he says, “If what Christians say about Good Friday is true, then it is, quite simply, the truth about everything.”

This just points out to me what the real meaning of the Schiavo affair is. It's true that for the country one of the major impacts is in the area of judicial power. There are, as many pundits have pointed out, major contradictions involved, ones that can find people keeping strange and unusual allies. But for me, what this really does is point out the strange (or maybe not so strange) dichotomy in our culture regarding life and death. We fear death, and at the same time we crave it. How can this be? My thought is that in the end, it all boils down to time. If you accept that, the rest falls into place.

Time, and how to manage it, has become a multi-billion dollar industry. We never seem to have enough of it, and we do whatever we can to enjoy it. We undergo medical procedures to extend it, we seek cosmetic aids to ignore the effects of it, we flaunt lifestyles that deny it. No matter how old you are, you want to live as if you were twenty, thirty, fourty years younger. The great enemy of time is death, and we do everything we can do deny it. What we truly want is immortality.

But what if we can't enjoy time? We talk about "the quality of life," which really means "the quality of our time." And if we can't have it the way we want it, then we take our lives and go home - or in this case, to the grave. Then we choose death, as if to say "it's our way or no way at all."

For those who believe this, of course, they fail to realize that the only Way that really counts is His Way, and to that end we must cooperate with it as much as possible. This, as Kudlow points out, means embracing suffering - not running away from it - when it comes our way. Some fail to, or refuse to, understand this. But death is a part of life, like it or not, and to a great extent the way we face death tells a lot about the way we approach life. The quality of life means different things to different people, but for those that have done their part, however great or small, to assist in the killing of Terri Schiavo, there is one, and only one, definition for the quality of life. It is their definition, and it is that intolerance that we will be forced to live with in the months and years ahead.

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