Saturday, 8 March 2014

Whose life is the most important?

Who should live or die?

We have grown up with the thought that we are all important, and I am still talking about my culture, I don’t know enough about other cultures to make sweeping statements. However, there are rumours of double standards, even here in our so called civilization there is a debate about whether everybody has the same rights to life or choices in their own care.

There are rumours of some elderly and/or disabled, not being given the same treatment in hospital as the young and abled. Arguments on the very premature and even the right of having children. Choices being made, without our consent, on the rights which  individuals / society have over our lives. I believe the consensus would be, that we are all entitled to live. This idea of the equality of all persons is relatively new in our history and has been hard fought for. It flourishes now in this land in a climate of certainty and social cohesion.
But in a climate of uncertainty and anarchy, what then? In the Sefuty Chronicles what would those settlements decide when it comes to making choices of food distribution. Back to the basics of survival.
If food is limited, should people who cannot, or will not, pull their weight in the manner of work, be looked after by others. The old, infirm,or very young, for instance?
Are all children wanted, should population controls be put in place, a limitation too how many or when they are allowed to be born?
If food is limited who should receive rations? Are women as bearers of children and so the future, worth more than men with their strength to provide protection and work the land?
Just how many children are needed to keep a population stable, when each year' rates harvest , illness and accident rate is uncertain?
How many of the old with the knowledge and skills are needed to pass on valuable information?
There comes a point in this scenario I set up in The Sefuty Chronicles, when some kind of population control is needed. I had many isolated settlements, no interaction with others, closed societies abandoned by any kind of central government. But all with a history and culture of modernity behind them. How in the extremities of survival would they choose?
How would they divide, first the food still in homes and shops, second what they can provide for themselves?

 To the men because they need the muscle power, 
to the women because they need to be healthy to nurse the children, 
to the children for their successful growth?
I remember, decades ago in the 60s, when TV showed pictures of a famine for the first time, hundreds of bone thin refugees, having made their way to a camp for help. Pictures of starving babies being lovingly cared for. An angry refugee male arguing that it was madness to feed the babies, the young adults needed the food, what use to a dying society to have well fed babies? What use was a baby, what could they do? Nothing, until years had passed. It was shocking to hear yet even then in my youth I could understand his logic and anger I cared for children, it was my chosen career for decades and what he said was against every fibre of my being, but I could understand.
Some societies in a famine will abandon the child (anathema to us) but, it does actually make sense, if you keep adult men and women alive more babies can be conceived when the famine has passed. If you keep children alive and let the adults die the baby on its own won’t survive. This chicken and the egg again. Other societies have many children, as an insurance against old age and infirmity, someone always there to help you stay alive.
So decisions about food divisions and population control would be be needed in my dystopian world. It is not sensible to trust to luck against natural disasters. 

Children apart, what happens to the sick, injured and old. What worth do they have? If the sick cannot work or contribute to survival are they abandoned/killed - if an injury is not so great, does everyone else carry them until they are back working alongside again? The old, are they useless mouths,a repository of knowledge and advice or cherished parents? Do our modern ethics, so hard won over the centuries, or our ancient religious beliefs, get used as our guides, or would they be abandoned to the even older instincts for self survival.
I thought long and hard about these choices, came up with a few variations for different communities. Impossible to know how any of us would react to supreme extended disaster We all hope we would maintain our moral standards.
Would we?
Could we?
How would you decide?

No comments:

Post a Comment