I cut open a tube of lotion this week — something I do every time I can’t squeeze any more product out of its container. You’d be surprised at how much stuff you’ll find inside an “empty” receptacle, if you only cut it open. There’s usually enough in there to last a few more days. To me, it’s a no-brainer: all it takes is a few seconds and a good pair of scissors (careful with those), and the payback is enormous. Ok, maybe a handful of cream or shampoo doesn’t seem like much, but say you do this eight or ten times. Eight or ten handfuls = a whole new tube or bottle. That’s dollars saved, not to mention one less empty plastic container to end up in a landfill.
In class this week, as an introduction to the novel we’ll be reading for the rest of the semester, we had a discussion about bioethics — “to test our limits,” as our professor put it, of what we find acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to the commodification of the human body. Questions posed: if you were diagnosed with terminal kidney disease and couldn’t get a donated organ to replace yours, would you buy one from a poor man willing to sell his healthy kidney in order to feed his family? What about human trafficking — how did we feel about that? The general consensus seemed to be that the buying and selling of body parts was alright, but not of the whole human person. It was equally clear, though, that many people were unsettled by the whole idea of buying and selling humans, whether in whole or in part, although they couldn’t draw any clear lines as to what would be acceptable, and when. How old am I in the kidney scenario? How poor is the man? How much would a kidney be worth to me? To him? It seems to me that, to find your way out of any ethical or moral morass, it’s best to go back to the roots of the question at hand. Why am I doing this, and what would be the consequences of my actions? In the case of the buying and selling of organs, I’m aware that there already is a huge market out there, mainly feeding on the desperation of people, both buyers and sellers. Ultimately, I believe that saving a life should be a completely free act of love. Once you bring money into it, there is no dignity and no freedom. But moral and philosophical arguments aside, the idea that one action of mine, however small it seems in the relative scheme of things, could have huge consequences in the world at large, should be enough to give at least some pause.
Less than two years after the last provincial election in the province of Quebec, another one has been called for April 7. I’m excited, because this is the first time I’ll be able to vote here. But I understand how other people might not be so enthusiastic. Nevertheless, every vote counts. There’s one final example of cumulative effects. If half the population decides to stay home on election day, then they deserve the government they get. So, vote.
We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily difference we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee. ~ Marian Wright Edelman