Marlowe's Shade

Monday, May 01, 2006

Confronting the Culture of Death

The most fundamental common denominator of the powers arrayed against Terri Schiavo and a Culture of Life was and continues to be materialism. In fact for most well articulated arguments in favor of euthanasia, materialism is a prerequisite. This empirical worldview is so all-pervasive in our society that we have forgotten how recently it came to be so widely held. As a result, it's validity is assumed and goes largely unchallenged.

That is not to say that materialism was a new idea of the Enlightenment either. But it had never been the basis of a model of the universe that itself aspired to be the groundwork for a world order of human society. For those that don't see this Brave New World as a welcome development, it is useful in confronting materialism to consider it as a filter on human experience that that is self-validating. One crystal clear example of this was the radically difference response to the videos of Terri interacting with her her family. Like the sententious experts who used to tell us that a baby's first smiles were merely "gas", all kinds of absurd explanations were floated for Terri's smiles and vocalizations when she was surrounded by those she loved and trusted. It was baffling to those of us that had significant exposure to infants and other non-verbal persons that those who clamored for Terri's execution couldn't see the consciousness internal activity that to us was so obvious.

Once we understand the operations of the filter of materialism, we realize that it makes any possibility of an intuitive perception of any aspect of reality impossible. Not only is any higher level of understanding other than that based on pure sense perception ruled out, but even the imperfect lens of the senses is further clouded. Well disciplined thought and emotion are intended to help us properly interpret the raw data from the senses, but when thought and emotion are not governed by a higher order than materialism, they further distort the picture of reality. One interesting point brought out by several commentators was that our society has become so obsessed with superficial notions of beauty, that Terri's appearance in her impaired condition was so emotionally painful to those similarly obsessed, that they projected their own fears of becoming helpless and in their minds, unattractive. So they could only see her death as a mercy.

Despite my anger and frustration at Terri's tragic death, I can see that for many their support for her execution was not conscious malice, but spiritual blindness. The challenge in this ongoing dialog is to demonstrate that the evidence of experience sifted out by the filter of materialism is compelling and worthy of reconsideration. Part of this debate should include pointing out the negative impact materialism has had on our society, but it must also include a positive alternative. This is a huge challenge, because materialism has been extremely successful in framing the debate in it's own terms due no doubt to how deeply entrenched it is in all of our thinking. But it seems to me clear that in the struggle between the Cultures of Life and Death, the battlefield is the mind, and of course, it's material extension that we call the media. If the outcome hasn't already been settled there, it soon will be.
papijoe 7:30 AM