I know this is copyrighted by the Kansas City Star, and I hope I'm not doing something wrong by copying and pasting it to my journal. If I simply gave you the link, you'd be asked to sign in or become a member, and few would bother to read these words by my favorite columnist, who lives in Kansas City.
Whether the issue is cookies or care, meddling knows no bounds
Just offhand, the subjects of Girl Scout cookies and living wills would not seem to have a lot in common.
But that's only at first glance.
The fact is there's something that connects them, and that something is the ubiquitous and everlasting human capacity for meddling.
First the cookies…
On television not long ago I saw interviews with two people who have mounted a campaign to stop the Girl Scouts from selling cookies as a fund-raiser for their organization.
One of the interviewees was a man, the other a woman. Both struck me as unhealthily skinny — downright hungry. And they were very excited about this cookie matter. Their eyes burned with the fervor of zealots to whom a profound truth has been revealed.
Girl Scout cookies were junk food, they declared. Just why they'd singled out those particular cookies — as opposed, say, to Oreos or fudge bars or chocolate chips — was unclear. Plainly, though, it would suit them better if young girls went door to door selling celery stalks and dried prunes.
What was obvious from the drawn expressions of those two crusaders was that eating did not rank high among their own really fun experiences. It was only other people's eating that interested them.
After listening to that cheerless pair, I decided on the spot that the next time the Girl Scouts come to our door I am not going to buy just a token box. I'm going to give them my full support!
The second subject, another instance of meddling, has been more serious and more wrenching for those immediately involved.
For 15 years, the 41-year-old Florida woman, Terri Schiavo, lay in what doctors described as a vegetative state, brain-damaged beyond hope of recovery, unable to comprehend or communicate, fed through a tube.
The last seven of those years, she was at the center of a struggle involving family members, including her spouse and her parents, and finally even the state legislature and the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, over whether to continue the artificial feeding and hydration or remove the tube and allow her ordeal to end.
Her husband said that Schiavo, before being stricken, had indicated clearly she would not want to be sustained in such a state. Unfortunately, she left no written instructions to that effect.
Her parents dismissed the doctors' conclusions, insisting that the person they called their “little girl'' could yet recover.
There were no villains among the individuals at the center of that legal and emotional storm. One must assume that, though their wants were different, they were driven alike by love for the one lost to them.
But neither are there any saints among the self-righteous zealots who were drawn to this situation — gathering to wave signs and shout slogans, intruding shamelessly upon a tragic and intensely personal matter where they had no earthly business.
Theirs was an outrageous and unseemly performance.
But it was when first the Florida Legislature and then the majority in Congress, in displays of transparent cynicism, injected themselves into the debate that I decided to make sure I was protected from such posturing interference.
On searching my records, I was pleased to find that I do, indeed, have a living will, drawn up by a lawyer, properly signed and notarized, with a copy on file in the lawyer's office.
When, through accident or illness or simple wear and tear, the mechanism of me finally winds down, that document makes clear exactly which measures may be taken to sustain me, and which may not.
And to further prevent any possibility of a misunderstanding, I wrote one further phrase in the margin:
“I will not have the manner and timing of my exit decided by some coalition of closet theocrats and opportunistic politicians pandering to their Christian fundamentalist base.”
What's more, when the end does come, I hope it's not before I've had my full share of Girl Scout cookies.