Cd 30 /Lockdown 27 

Look at the image above. It was taken at the place I work. It’s an old place; hundreds of years old. In fact the school has existed longer by a couple of hundred years than America and was around when Shakespeare was born.

It’s humbling but time is overrated as something in itself to celebrate. She’s a bitch but she just is. There’s nothing to be impressed about; she doesn’t actually make any effort. She just rolls on and we roll on too.

From time to time a special birthday is announced and the poor recipient of the recognition slopes to the front with a forced grin to collect the garden centre voucher that recognises the reason that their shoulders are slumped; their eyes hollowed out and their social life shot to shit. We applaud and smile and are glad that it’s not us. But what are we applauding, really? Relief? Tradition? Kindness? Or the simple fact that this individual didn’t die. “Yay! Congratulations for not dying yet…”

The steps on the photo above are old and the centre is worn by the passing of a million soles. Souls. Even concrete is worn down with repetition; even stone diminishes over time and even that resilient staff member, rejuvenated for another decade of slog by the hanging basket or trellis, will be dead in the earth and forgotten soon after. 

Time does it to us whatever we might think. We are swept away by it and we have little say, though we might concoct systems to convince ourselves that we’re not, like everyone else, on the slippery slope towards our deaths. 

Memento Mori. 

With that in mind I see the logic of keeping people alive. It is good for morale, I suppose, to think that we might cheat the inevitable for a day or a month. We do it well. We clever humans are the experts at pushing back t nature and delaying (not avoiding, mind) the fateful day of our reckoning. 

It is particularly significant in the current climate as the Corona death-toll that we’re given rises sharply by the day and the focus turns to the elderly. I spoke of this the other day, so won’t repeat the same ideas, but rather, I wish to develop them and ask the question that picks at a rather sensitive issue. An issue that I think we, as a society, need to face full-on and not brush under the carpet with a sweeping ideology that ‘all life is sacred.’ 

I just think we’re a bit old in the tooth for all that, now. It’s time to be sensible and see the bigger picture. Life’s sacred, sure, and it all gets its chance and sometimes it thrives and other times it ceases. It is a natural order that we should try to work with to improve the quality of life to the whole of humanity and not cling to dogmatically – because forcing the issue is to the detriment of all of our lives. 

So we’re told to stay in our homes and not venture out, feeling suitably guilty for the lives we’re putting at risk, only to purchase essentials or go to work – if we absolutely must. We’re mocked by the police for wanting to spread a little; for our yearning to see open fields and mountains or the face of a relative; we’re told that we must do this lockdown thing to protect the elderly, to protect the vulnerable. We have put individual livelihoods, mental health and the global economy at risk to protect the ones that maybe nature has selected. 

On the one hand the best brains in the country reject the old ways for the new discoveries that are being made in medicine and science; we’re diving into the micro and the macro and manipulating life in ways beyond imagining; and in so short a time. We spend great chunks of our national budgets on ensuring that we can make these breakthroughs and we use them to define us as a species and raise us on the global front. 

And we put it to use to keep an ninety-year old mother of six alive as she suffers breathing difficulties thanks to Corona; we use it to replace the knee of a hundred-year old war veteran who spends most of his days in a wheelchair; we repair and replace the lungs and livers of smokers and alcoholics. We keep alive murderers and we encourage the obese by providing ways for them to live with their unhealthy lifestyle. 

The reason that a lily-pad has a smooth surface is so that the detritus doesn’t accumulate and pull it down. 

We’ve walked these steps for so long that a groove has worn in the centre and by instinct we drift towards the easier route. That way we don’t have to face the difficult questions. But I think that we should face them. I think we should be sensible and take decisions that will bring a benefit to the whole rather than ease our conscience as we prolong the lives of the few. 

I am pretty sure that the majority of the elderly unnaturally kept alive beyond their time and dribbling into their collars would agree. I certainly don’t want to be kept going once I lose the ability to control the things around me. Quote me on it. You’ll be able to in the next post…

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