Post-pandemic: What Worries Me
by Lois Kerschen
We have a long way to go before the Covid-19 pandemic is at an end. Nonetheless, people are already speculating about what kind of world we will have afterwards. Case in point, the May 22 edition of Peace & Life Connections, the Consistent Life Network (CLN) newsletter..
The feature article of that newsletter pointed out how past epidemics led to positive changes in society and the good we have seen so far in this Covid-19 pandemic. On social media, there are a lot of hopeful aspirations for an improved world – one in which we better appreciate our families, medical caregivers, and teachers and show greater concern over the harm we have been doing to our planet and humankind.
People are recommending that, when things get back to normal, we should create a new normal because the old normal wasn’t working. After all, we’ve just experienced society turned upside down, so now that we know it can be done virtually overnight, why not make adjustments based on what we have just learned?
A better future could result from our pandemic-induced attitude adjustment. However, there are also some sinister negatives that are possible as well.
“Sacrifice the Weak”?
The majority of fatalities has been among people over 65. Consistent-life advocate and author Charles Camosy has recently been sounding the alarm about the tragic effects of the virus in nursing homes. Sadly, this high death rate has elicited only an “Oh well” attitude among many and fueled the rebellion of the young to social precautions. Their attitude: “Why should I be restricted when the virus doesn’t affect me?”
In an article for the Los Angeles Times, staff writer Laura Newberry noted that “This rejection of prolonged sacrifices made by all for the sake of the old has been voiced from the highest ranks of government.”
Antioch, California, ousted a city official (Ken Turnage) after he sparked fury when he claimed the Covid-19 crisis was a good way of culling those whom he characterized as a drain on society:
“The World has been introduced to a new phrase — Herd Immunity — which is a good one. In my opinion we need to adapt a Herd Mentality. A herd gathers its ranks, it allows the sick, the old, the injured to meet its natural course in nature,” he wrote in a post on Facebook.
Referring to homeless people, he added that the virus would “fix what is a significant burden on our society.”
From politicians to protesters, there have been suggestions that we should return to business as usual for the overall economic benefit, even if it is at the cost of some lives. In fact, a demonstrator in Tennessee carried a poster that read: “Sacrifice the weak – Reopen.”
This reminds me of reading once of an abortion advocate who said that abortion is a “sacrifice we make for ourselves.” In other words, although it is sad to lose that child, that disabled or elderly person, look at the benefit for me, and I am more important.
Funny how it is always somebody else who gets sacrificed. As President Reagan said, “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” In like manner, the people who are clamoring to drop the Covid-19 restrictions are generally not among the vulnerable.
An exception is 70-year-old Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. He said he was willing to risk his survival in order to save the American economy for future generations. “Let’s get back to living,” Patrick said, apparently failing to see the irony that living for some would mean dying for others.
What the Tennessee demonstrator and Lt. Gov. Patrick are calling for is more like a sacrifice to appease the gods that would be rewarded with rain, or a quiet volcano, or, in this case, a robust economy.
According to Newberry, the California state government “advised hospitals to prioritize younger people with greater life expectancy” for corona virus care. Although those guidelines were quickly rescinded, they were similar to other government calculations through the years that have found older people to be worth less than younger people. In fact, the EPA once “determined that people over 70 were worth just 67% of the lives of younger people.”
Newberry went on to quote Scott Kaiser, a Los Angeles geriatrician who said, “The notion that creeps up from time to time, this pitting of generations against each other, is toxic and misguided.”
Discrimination against the Disabled
Besides older citizens, the virus is most lethal to people with other health problems – “the weak” that the protester’s sign referred to. How does the call to sacrifice the weak and the elderly make them feel? Terrified! They are being told flat out that protecting them is not worth the sacrifice.
All of this points to an increasingly open belief that not only medical care but also ordinary consideration should be based on the survival of the fittest. Advocates say their proposals are not different from medical triage. However, triage is one thing; discrimination is another.
The sinister vibe coming from those proposing that we “sacrifice the weak” involves a disdain for the “less than perfect,” the elderly, the not beautiful, the poor, the minorities. It is the prejudice that has existed throughout time by elitists, the wealthy, and the powerful. Me first and lesser people much later, if ever. This prejudice says there should be social classes; there are “little people”; the great unwashed are expendable; slaves are equal to only 3/5 of a person and natives are not people at all; unborn babies do not have human rights; Jews are vermin.
Many a movie, TV show, or spy thriller has presented stories about mad scientists or diabolical politicians who plot to eliminate undesirable populations of the poor, disabled, “genetically inferior” and elderly. During and after this pandemic, I’m worried that this mentality will no longer be fiction, but mainstream.
There is ample evidence of this possibility. In the Netherlands, although the one euthanasia center has been closed during the pandemic as “nonessential,” euthanasia is legal and advocates bemoan this hiatus as leaving patients to suffer. Could euthanasia become required?
Iceland was proud to announce that Down Syndrome had been eradicated because 100% of affected children were aborted. As Patricia Heaton said, “Iceland isn’t eliminating Down syndrome—they are just killing everyone who has it. Big difference.” It’s become standard practice for obstetricians to recommend abortion if there is any abnormality at all or a “reduction” if there are multiples.
Disabled people can tell you that sometimes they are aggressively challenged by people who think they don’t have a right to exist. Will the economic downturn cause people to question whether we should continue to spend tax dollars on disability payments or research on traumatic injuries?
Years ago, a nurse at a state hospital for the severely disabled told me that we shouldn’t question whether the lives of these patients have any value because they have great purpose in what they bring out in others. Whether we respond kindly with respect for each life or react in fear and prejudice seems to be the main question during this pandemic. What will this crisis bring out in us? Nobility or selfishness?
So far, proponents of survival of the fittest are gaining an alarmingly wide audience, which is perhaps the biggest challenge yet to the Consistent Life Ethic.
For posts focused on a similar topic, see:
Figuring out Euthanasia: What Does it Really Mean?