From some newspaper or other, found on a trolley seat, I read the latest on granny dumping. This is when your granny has Alzheimer’s, or a similar dementia, to the point of forgetting family names, and needing a lot of unselfish attention. You take her to England on a family vacation — or any other welfare state will do — and leave her at a bus stop somewhere. (Or grandpa, as in the item I was reading.) But should your budget not go that far, you might just “lose” the inconvenient progenitor, over a few county lines. With luck, no one will recognize the face when some busybody posts it on Instagram or Snapchat. Having legal guardianship, and most likely low intelligence, you might even continue to cash granny’s cheques.
Let us not be too harsh. This is better than “euthanasia,” as the progressives call it; or senicide, or homicide, or “whatever.” And it probably puts an end to the physical abuse that granny was experiencing back home. By emerging Catholic standards it might count as merciful and merit a gold star. From Rome we are after all now hearing that the perfect is the enemy of the good. Why do the journalists reporting such stories sound so judgemental?
In Japan, according to the paper I was reading, the operation is called ubasute, and involves carrying granny up a high mountain, or to some other remote place. A quick check on standard references indicates that this custom is associated with the distant past; but then, a further electronic search indicates that it may be reviving. It is a country whose welfare and tax authorities recently discovered did not have almost a million centenarians, after all. More like 65,692; and some laxity in reporting bereavements.
I recall many similar legends, on the topic of senicide, circulating in my youth: Eskimo grannies floated off on ice floes, for example. As I grew, I learnt that such accounts were not necessarily true. Later, that they were not necessarily untrue, either. (Last known case in 1939, according to the Wicked Paedia.)
Whichever, and in defiance of political correctitude, my darling children were able to acquire this last detail of Canadian lore, in the form of a modern urban trope; the elder one especially. Hence a memorable remark, when his father admitted to age and mental enfeeblement, by way of explaining some eccentric act. I believe the lad was being droll. Nevertheless, I resisted his subsequent proposal for a family vacation in Nunavut.
From Procopius, we learn of the eugenic practices of the Heruli, a Germanic tribe, who assembled their sick and elderly in woodpiles, mercifully stabbing them to death before setting the piles alight. The Heruli were, incidentally, quite democratic, as were most if not all pre-Christian tribes. Everything by majority decision. (Electronic voting makes that possible again.)
A more thorough review of the annals of anthropology would yield a fairly thick dossier. We are reminded that in pagan cultures, including those of urbane Athens and Rome, Christian ideas about abortion, infanticide, suicide, senicide, were not yet in place. Today, we observe that they are slipping.
Under an Executive Order of a former German chancellor (also 1939), the Aktion T4 programme provided a one-size-fits-all solution for the incurably ill, the physically and mentally disabled, the emotionally distraught, and the irretrievably old. Soon this was extended to assorted Slavs, and all identifiable homosexuals, Gypsies, and Jews — entirely without what our liberal intellectuals call “informed consent.” The sort which might today be at risk of granny dumping would be accommodated under one category or another; and with Teutonic efficiency, house calls were arranged.
Did I mention this wasn’t Christian? Oddly, it became labelled as unprogressive, too; for while eugenics was all the fashion with the Darwinian avant-garde, before Hitler, after it went briefly out of style. I say “briefly” in the deeper historical context, for after only a few decades it is coming back in. Indeed, granny dumping might be given as an argument to make these policies more efficient and hygienic. It is (exactly) like demanding state abortion, so that women don’t have to make more hazardous arrangements to free themselves of their unwanted children, and go skulking about in fear of getting caught.
But of course, we now have “informed consent.” (Try getting it from an unborn baby.)
I have noticed that the truly doddering aged will agree to almost anything. For they are no longer following the plot. And some I have met in the oldie homes, even among those who recognize their descendants, may be so glad to see them again. And after such a long time! They’ll do anything for a smile.
We can make a law to permit something, or remove a law that gets in the way. We could also make a law forbidding it again, or restoring the status quo ante. We could have a lot of discussion about this, and the sort of Burkly riots that become easier to imagine, as a national entertainment, every day. For it’s not a pretty sight when the progressives stop smiling, because they haven’t got their way.
And yet as I realize from a clump of stray newspaper on the seat of a trolley, they are probably quite opposed to granny dumping. For it adds a fiscal burden to the state’s already mounting healthcare costs. Perhaps we’ll get new regulations against it; but I shouldn’t think anything too serious. For as I have elsewhere observed, the only “pro-life” position that progressive legislators are willing to support is on behalf of the convicted perpetrators of what were traditionally capital crimes.
To my mind, such laws are a secondary consideration. We can argue and riot until the pigeons come home to roost, in our dense intellectual smog; we can watch young, “politically aware” faces contorted with rage, carrying signs declaring their opposition to “hate,” and calling for assassinations. That is all quite irrelevant. The choice is really between a cultural reconversion to Christianity, and continuing our slide into murderous savagery. Meanwhile everyone has an opinion, and everything is up for grabs. We vote.
Civilization is oppressive. It makes certain acts unthinkable. You hardly even need laws, once that is established. But they are kept on the books, all the same, and the hangman’s noose still stands as a paradoxical reminder of the sanctity of human life. As Doctor Johnson said, it helps to concentrate the mind.
That was the “dead-white” Euro thing: oppressive Christianity. Before that we were like the Heruli. Now we are becoming like the Heruli again — albeit with much improved technology.