Thursday, October 14, 2004

Dehumanizing humanity

- A single mother with two children.

- A 19 year old boy with AIDS who has attempted suicide twice, conducting AIDS research.

- A businessman that employs 200 staff.

- An 80 year old retiree.

They all need a life saving operation, but only one operation is available on the NHS. All bar the businessman have a hefty discount for the operation. Who should live and who should die?

This is a decision that I would firmly class as a ‘lifeboat scenario’ – something that is so out of the ordinary that there’s no point in extrapolating daily-life meaning from it. It’s also a decision that no human should want to or have to make in their lifetime.

Yet in our system, it’s made every day by the public health professionals doling out scarce care according to ‘need’ and other arbitrary criteria.

And today, it was a decision that had to be made by a class of 7-th graders in a new subject in the UK called ‘Citizenship’.

My father happened to be looking in on the class and was utterly horrified by what he saw and heard. This is a man who had grown up in, lived through and escaped Communism itself. Every day as a teacher in the UK he is more and more concerned by what he sees taught to children – it is all too familiar.

So what did the children decide? One group chose the mother, until they received clarifying information telling them that she was actually an alcoholic and the state had removed the children from her care. She was then demoted to the group who would certainly die.

Now, let’s look at that – according to this value judgment, she only has worth as a human being when she is there to take care of other humans, not as an individual, flawed though she is.

The retiree wasn’t even considered – what could she offer to society? She had already had her ‘fair share’ of life and was only a drain on the public purse.

The businessman was also not chosen by any group. His life was measured by the number of dependants that his existence supported, in this case 200 people would lose their jobs if he were to die.

The correct choice, according to the teacher (who happens to also be the teacher of religion at the school) was the boy with AIDS.

...suddenly, out of nowhere, a small voice piped up.

‘Why save the AIDS patient?’ Said the voice ‘He’s already tried to kill himself twice, he’s just a nutcase.’

‘Anyway’, it went on, ‘Why not let the businessman pay for his operation and use the money to give an operation to one of the others – that way, you could have two operations instead of one.’

The voice belonged to a small boy in the class who happened to not only have the mind to consider alternatives and the values to make a judgment but who had the courage to contradict a teacher’s moral edict.

These kinds of children aren’t particularly welcome in an education system crafted for students who merely imbibe and passionlessly regurgitate information. He was about to be taught his first lesson in the dangers of thinking differently from the herd.

The teacher apparently whirled around to face the boy and launch into a speech designed to humiliate and upbraid him. After all – how could the boy say such a thing? The fact that the businessman can pay for the operation shouldn’t mean that he gets one, he’s no better than the others just because he can pay. The boy was clearly WRONG.

The businessman indeed is no better if you measure virtue by how far down one has fallen in life or how much of a burden one carries on behalf of the all-powerful ‘society’. He would be low down on the list solely because he has done something in his life to ensure that he has the power to act for himself at a time like this – he has created and retained wealth.

The fact that the boy had had the nous to find a way for two people to have an operation instead of one was ignored. He had stepped outside the parameters of the exercise – which was one of moral judgment. He was there to learn about citizenship, which meant he was there to learn about the state and the way the state thinks. He was to step into the shoes of our all-powerful government and do what our government is there, apparently, to do – to choose who will live and who will die.

In this system, we must give up our earnings – earnings that we could use to make life saving, life extending and life enriching decisions for ourselves – to the state. We are told that we will be taken care of – that we will be given education, roads, protection and health care as and when we need it. Instead, the state then doles out health, education and protection according to some soul-crushing scale of individual pathos or a demonic gauge of how much a person can ‘give back’ to society. We rarely get back – measure for measure – what we put in. Rigorous thinking applied to this process of centralized garnering and redistribution will reveal the obvious – that it is in no way fair, equitable or moral.

Rigorous thinking, however, requires a rigorous education. And if there’s one thing that the state does NOT provide, it is an education designed to stimulate or stretch the mind of the small humans in its care.

Instead, they are taught imbecilic levels of mathematics, are made to read state sanctioned, politically correct tomes about people with ‘social issues’ and are philosophically shaped by citizenship classes that teach them to think like bureaucrats. It isn't even necessary to obtain a score over 50% to pass some subjects anymore.

These children will not only lack the tools to critically assess the current political and economic status-quo, they will lack the desire to see it change from anything other than the course it is headed on.

We are creating a generation of children who will only see individual humans in terms of what they give to the society/state or what they take away from the same. Humans can then be allowed to live or eliminated, healed or left to perish, fed or starved according to this ‘societal benefit’ measure. This is utterly horrendous and contrary to any philosophy that holds human beings as self-determining, free individuals.

The natural culmination of this kind of thinking is socialism in one form or another and the only defense against it is philosophical. With a populace already coaxed into this mode of thought, though, an October revolution won’t be necessary – there will be nothing to overthrow and no-one to fight once these state educated children grow up.

M

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