It is election day and if the polling holds it looks to be a very good one for Republicans. Come tonight we should have very good reason to be celebratory. And yet I find celebration hard to come by – and not just becasue the most hard-headed presidency in history will fail, utterly, to receive the message being sent today. No, the ennui I experience today is born of a story that has ridden pretty high, but just off the main radar, amidst the closing arguments, the final pushes and the last gasps of Campaign 2014.
Yes, she was dying. Yes, she was looking at a great deal of suffering before her inevitable demise. But regardless, her decision, and the rush to support it, takes something extraordinarily tragic and makes it indescribably saddening. Life, even a life lived with extreme difficulty and pain, is too precious to waste in this manner. Life is given by God, it is not ours to take away.
Yet as I read piece after piece about that call to support the “right to die with dignity,” I cannot help but wonder where is the religious outrage at this act that so clearly defies centuries of religious teaching. Is the press not covering it? Google is not revealing much of anything, even press releases from religious organizations that have gone unreported.
This is how we lose.
Compassion for an awful situation demands some decorum, but the -pro-death people are busy making political hay and we allow our compassion to silence us when it should force us merely to temper our pronouncements and thus illustrate the incredibly poor taste of our opposition. This is hard to message. The difference between pulling the plug on a person already dead save for human intervention and a person not yet dead from disease is too subtle for Twitter and the TV sound bite. We let this messaging difficulty silence us. Medical science has forced most of us, or someone very close to us, to make life or death decisions and so we remain silent lest we be called hypocrite, or becasue it is too painful to face our own, perhaps wrong, calculations.
We cannot be so silenced. We have to find a tasteful, decorous, effective way to talk about this or we will be facing medically assisted suicide on demand as we now face abortion on demand. Our culture no longer bows to a greater power, it is inevitable if we are silent.
But more important than the political opposition and the media messaging is what is going on in our churches. That is what prepares the battlefield and sets the cultural agenda so that political and media messaging can have traction. Politics follows culture. And yet, as I drive around I have not seen church signs with sermons on this issue. Of the myriad church social media streams I follow I have not seen any mention of discussion groups or youth events to deal with this situation. The silence seems to be pervasive, not just in the media.
This is how we lose. I do not want to lose this one.