Salomons: A throwaway society

Recently, we a problem with the car. Taking it to the repair shop I learned that the cooling fan blade being plastic, had deteriorated and was falling apart. So in my mind I thought, maybe $100 for the blade and a bit of labor. Then the mechanic informed me that you can’t just buy a fan blade, you have to buy the blade attached to a motor and the support structure around it. A $200 dollar bill in my mind quickly became $600 and change!

Caught between a rock and a hard place, I had the work done. Afterwards, I was thinking about all the components that while still being in operating condition, would just be tossed hopefully into a recycle bin. I thought; what a waste; it is cheaper to replace than it is to repair. It’s all about cost. Totally disposable!

Naturally, it got me thinking about how we treat our lives much the same way. Unlike fifty or more years ago, marriage was for life; now we see it is as disposable as any product we might obtain. When contraception became mainstream, we thought it would help avoid unwanted children; now we just dispose of the ‘problem’.

More than once, folks at the kitchen would talk about how their parents wished that they never had a child, making them feel totally unwanted and useless. Now we witness many children that have been ousted from their parental home through neglect or just plain antagonism; totally disposable. Is it any wonder why the ‘street’ is so full?

It then makes me wonder about the value of human life. You see, not even fifty years ago life was so valued that doctors had to be asked or court-ordered to stop treatment. Now that same doctor is being told by the same courts that he has to assist in a person’s suicide or recommend someone who will. Death has become a choice today, but only under strict guidelines. From history, we know just what happens to guidelines. If a family can request euthanasia for an ailing relative, how long before we euthanize those in society that are doing nothing but costing us money to keep them alive? Like my car, is it just about cost; will it influence our future decisions about whether or not a person should live?

One statement that I hear a lot from young couples is that their choice to have children is based totally on their finances, you very seldom hear about having a child because it is a gift of life to be cherished. So if finances are used to prevent having children, what could stop us from maintaining them in sickness or dementia or Alzheimer’s. What about the mentally or physically bed bound? Do we then dispose of them through some practically argued reasoning? During the Second World War, it is well documented that many thousands of handicapped folk were summarily disposed of; they were a drain on the rest of society, plus they were incapable of being healed, their state would not change for the rest of their lives, so it was deemed not practical or worthwhile to keep them alive.

From all appearances, we have become a society that is rapidly throwing away its past values and mores, and silently not only accepting, but promoting a brutality toward fellow human beings. Not all feel that way of course, and these folks battle every move made without good purpose but it often seems like they are fighting a losing battle.

Somehow, and somewhere along the line and because every human life is worth protecting we as compassionate human beings have to be at the forefront to stop this headlong rush to becoming a totally disposable society.

Chris Salomons is the kitchen co-ordinator at Potters Hands.

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