Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thoughts About Haleigh Poutre's Miracle and of a Nursing Home in Minnesota

Once in a great while, miracles occur that remind us that our knowledge is limited, that our supremacy in the world is illusory. A simple snowstorm should be humbling for most of us.. The sight of a BMW spinning its wheels on a patch of ice and being pushed by helpful neighbours is a reminder that we do not control the skies and that we sometimes even lose control on the ground as well.

Most of the time, our delusions of greatness are amusing. When we start assessing the value of human life, it becomes downright sinister. Abortion hardly makes anyone flinch. It's a matter of "choice". After abortion comes "mercy killing" which essentially puts humans on the level of dogs that can be "put to sleep".

The idea of brain death became more feasible as organ transplants became more common place. If you redefine death in a way that enables you to harvest fresh organs, then you can trade a "low quality life" for one that seems more worthwhile. Medical experts are rapidly redrawing ethical frontiers with thought seldom given to where we are headed.

Haleigh Poutre is a girl who is challenging some of the new notions about "quality of life" without saying a word. Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin has taken up her cause and educated the public about its specifics and far reaching implications.

Who is Haleigh Poutre? Michelle Malkin explains as follows.

"She's the miracle child who was nearly beaten to death by her barbaric stepfather three years ago. Hooked to a ventilator in a comatose state, she was then nearly condemned to death by Massachusetts medical experts and the state's criminally negligent child-welfare bureaucracy, which hastily declared her to be in a hopeless vegetative state and wanted to pull the plug on her life."

The first strike against this child in her difficult time on earth was the neglect of the Massachusetts child welfare bureaucracy, which failed to uncover and stop the ongoing abuse that nearly killed her. They took an activist stance only when she had been beaten into a coma. Their contribution to her welfare was to go to court to have the plug pulled on her, declaring her to be in a "persistent vegetative state"When the Massachusetts courts gave them they wanted, Haleigh confounded all expectations by starting to breathe on her own. The miracle did not stop there.

Michelle Malkin describes Poutre's progress as follows.

" God had a different plan. The government's campaign to kill her was stopped after the then 11-year-old girl started breathing on her own and responding to commands. This little girl with an iron will to live has been nursed back to health by an amazing team of caring therapists. Her plight brought end- of-life issues again to the fore - issues that so many on both the left and right would prefer to ignore.

Haleigh the "vegetable" can now write her name, brush her own hair and feed herself. Haleigh's suffering and sacrifice carry powerful reminders against blind trust in the deadly duo of Big Nanny and Big Medicine - reminders that money can't buy."

A spiritually deadened generation needs miracles to be awakened from its spiritual coma. When it is proven that communicative life can rise from the "brain dead" then that is accepted as reason to question medical omnipotence. Stories like Haleigh's grab us by the lapel and show us the awesome mystery of human existence.

Hopefully, this will lead to a reevaluation of our current view of life, which views it to be a human possession. The traditional view is that we are trustees of even our own lives, which are a gift from G-d. Murder is ultimately extinguishing a Godly manifestation and destroying something that is not ours.

What do we become when we start to pass judgement on the value of a life? If a person is capable of nothing more than smiling at a curtain flapping in the breeze or making throat noises, who are we to decide that watching art films or singing opera is better ? What if I hate art films and opera? Shall I decide that a person who has different tastes is a lesser person than I am?

Does earning power make a life more valuable? What happens when a person can no longer work, or they can only work a few hours? Does that diminish their value? Who is weighing the value of life? Is it doctors? Who is paying the doctors? Is it inheritors watching an estate evaporate?

There is something very valuable to the life of someone who is not capable of working or even communicating. Most of the time, we protect life because it makes sense. Most of us enjoy life enough to want to stay alive. When we protect a life that is that of a person with no self awareness or measurable cognitive skills, we are making a statement that life belongs to G-d.
We are also investing in our future, because much of our life is spent in decline. Some people feel devastated when they become blind or crippled. Some want to commit suicide. There are those who find value in such individuals and those who face life with disabilities with an intact desire to live give. These people give inspiration to others who are fighting the battles we all face. When we consign another person to the waste heap, a part of us dies with them. The value and meaning of our lives are diminished by our negation of others.

Those who are severely disabled enrich the world by the compassion and warmth they elicit from others.

A corporation is dissolved when it can no longer produce wealth and only costs money. A human being is more than a profit and loss statement. The more we internalise this awareness , the happier our own lives will be.

When we decide that some lives are just plain worthless, then others will take this calculating logic to more blatantly depraved levels, like the girls in a Minnesota Nursing home
who are alleged to have horribly abused residents in the nursing home in which they worked.

The Smoking Gun describes the allegations as follows.

"A group of teenagers working at a Minnesota nursing home abused and sexually humiliated elderly residents suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia, prosecutors allege. The six young female caregivers were named yesterday in criminal complaints charging them with a variety of cruel behavior at the Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Albert Lea, a city in southern Minnesota. Only two of those charged--Brianna Broitzman, 19, and Ashton Larson, 18--are named in the complaints since they were not minors when the alleged abuse occurred."

If you look at the girl's pictures, they do not look hideous, but enviably attractive. Spiritual ugliness can dress up like a fashion model. Were they raised in a world where fading physical beauty is a sin or a horrible fate? I don't know. I am sure that they weren't directly taught to behave as they allegedly did. Where did they pick up such attitudes?

Where did they get the idea that some lives just aren't worth much, that self awareness is everything and that life has no sanctity? Such attitudes are in the air all around us like invisible spores that sprout on our lawns in the morning dew. When such things happen as the abuse scandal in Minnesota, can we really be so surprised ?

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