There seems to be a fear in our society about asking a question that people may find, well, pick a word: scary, un-ethical, non-politically correct, otherwise ridiculous etc. People seem to be concerned about looking foolish or G_d forbid, racist. But why should this be the case. I truly believe that if anything in the world is going to change questions need to be asked and people need to think about the answers.
Last year I attended college, taking an Access to HE course in order to gain entry onto my current degree programme here at the University of Kent. During one of the classes the topic being discussed was over-population and scarce resources. Quite innocently, I will explain*, I remarked that in Africa we cull all sorts of species if their numbers were reaching unsustainable levels and that perhaps we should consider culling people for the same reasons. As you can imagine this idea invoked involuntary outbursts of laughter closely followed by objections to even having thought about it. My question is WHY? Why did this idea provoke such a reaction? Now I may not be advocating the mass culling of the world population to help solve the problem of scarce resources, however I what I am saying is it is important to be able to ask these questions.
The human race is an arrogant beast! If you speak to most people I would feel sure that the reaction to culling animals in Africa in a response to over population would be one of quite understanding, even if they may personally disagree, they understand why it is deemed necessary ( I hasten to add it is usually for the eventual benefit of mankind rather than the animals). For some reason humans assume that they are better than any other species on this planet of ours. One reason why animal rights is such a contentious subject and a relatively new concept. However, if we are going to talk ethics, then we should be talking ethics for every living thing and not just for humans. This is a vast subject that I am not going to cover here but may well make the subject of a future post.
My argument is, if it is ‘morally’ okay to cull animals for population control, why is it not ‘morally’ okay to cull humans for the same reason? Will we feel the same way when the shrinking younger generations have to pay the pensions and upkeep for the growing ageing population, or as one of my professors said yesterday, may we find that euthanasia is not only legal but mandatory after a certain age? Again, another ‘outrageous’ statement but one to question and discuss nevertheless. I have no intention of going into my thoughts on this question now, perhaps if enough people ask me about it. My intentions here is to pose a publicly perceived ‘outrageous’ question and ask why we aren’t asking more of them. There are indeed questions that we may decide are far too outrageous to be taken seriously and yet the fact remains it has been asked and we have discussed it. We may come to the conclusion that it is a bad idea in which case we look for other questions/solutions. But the important thing is that we have discussed it!
We as a species need to get over ourselves and our insecurities about upsetting someone else and so keeping our mouths shut when the discussions that are had over these questions may just lead to a solution for world hunger or world poverty or.. or.. or.. the list is endless.
I would very much like to know what you think so please feel free to comment.
* I have never been afraid to air my views on any number of subjects from politics to ethics to which mustard is better and why and I don’t understand people who find it a strange thing to do.