I continue to receive deeply moving stories in response to my commentary on Terri Schiavo.
Whether writers agree or disagree with me, many tell of painful struggles around their own life and death experiences with loved ones. I am moved by the real pain in these stories.
They are changing my skepticism about our ability to have a constructive dialogue about life and death decisions.
If my respondents are any indication, then most people remain open to further discussion of these issues in a civil and responsible manner. That means they are willing to listen but they also want to be heard.
Many have said they have felt no one in the public media has spoken for them. With very few exceptions, they say the language of the debate has been extreme and they don’t like this.
These notes reflect far more thoughtful perspectives than the sharply worded sound bites that we’ve heard. Many writers advocate a point of view, but they do so without rancor, or without taking absolute positions that allow no room for a different opinion.
I think local churches and other community groups would serve us well by offerring dialogue groups on the various issues that cluster around life and end of life ethics. If we truly listen to each other in an attitude of respect, we might begin a process of healing that will move us forward in our common desire to respect life and create a more just and humane world.