Moral Melbourne: Populous Culture
Alright everyone move back a bit, it's getting crowded around here. According to our mate Google, the planet is approaching a population of seven billion human people persons. Seven billion and on the rise. That means we're chewing up Earth's resources faster than a hipster cleans out an Op Shop.
Earth is a sinking ship. The speed of that sinking is the topic of constant debate. It's an important question even for us, those who will die before we drown. How fast we are running out of resources and our ability to compensate will affect our moral decisions in the present.
Let's take these three occurrences for a walk down hypothetical lane:
1) It often takes medical intervention to save a baby born twenty-three weeks premature.
2) Australia wide, euthanasia is illegal.
3) Some people are idiots.
The first fact is an example of where we can let people die. Not actively kill them, just make them comfortable as their bodies lose the ability to Viva La Vida. Saving premature babies takes great effort and many become a liability given the higher chance of disability. In these cases, they will use up many resources just to have a decent life. Our attitude towards letting them go will depend on how dire our social circumstances are. If society does decide that it's acceptable to let these children die, it may be seen by those who live with a disability as a statement that they have less worth as a human being. On a sinking ship, practical necessity may still be affected by the multi-facited dynamics of ethical responisibility.
Let's say you do support letting premature thingys die. You heartless bitch. The next question on this slippery slope to genocide is whether active euthanasia is cool. Now we've moved from letting Mother Nature curl her cold merciless fingers around the weak, to throwing some at her for devouring. In ship terms, it's the difference between chucking dead bodies and sick live bodies overboard. Even without the pending homosapien overload, this is already a grey area.
Someone who is terminally ill may ask to be killed, whether that is a well-considered request or not. Fulfilling their wishes is a moral call usually charged with emotional conflict. The tipping point between emotion-fuelled decisions and practical conduct will again be based on how desperate the global circumstance is. Deciding to kill, however, comes with a severe shift in attitude to life. Adopting a 'kill/help die' mindset then has the potential to breed horrid social and cultural implications. There're a few epic sci-fi movies in that, I'm sure.
The question I'm getting at is: how many billions of people sucking the milk and honey from the planet do there need to be before you shift your moral opinion on the above conundrums?
Okay, now to talk about idiots. Let's just all agree that we should take away safety warnings like "Do Not Stick Metal Objects In Toaster" or "Do Not Use Hair Dryer in Bath" or "Don Not Stick Your Head In The Lion Cage". If people are stupid enough to do these things, then they're no good to the future of our race anyway. P.S. Bring back risky planking.
To flip my own thought process on myself, I've noticed that I've assumed that being able to contribute to society is a prerequisite to life. Perhaps it shouldn't be. There might be hermits out there shaking their lonely fists at that. Also, just because there are halfwits floating around, eating food that rocket scientists could be eating, doesn't mean they are less entitled to life than useful people.
How we collectively decide to view life will dictate how we choose to manipulate it. There are serious decisions to be made, for us, in our lifetime. Better start thinking.