During Neo’s first foray into the Matrix, he is treated to a revelation from his new-found mentor that in a post-apocalyptic Earth in which human supremacy has been supplanted by a race of totalitarian machines, any previous meaning the lives of the human race may have had has since been diminished and boiled down to a rather utilitarian purpose: in short, batteries. Energy sources. A vast collection of electricity and heat-generating masses to be tapped, exploited and discarded. Neo’s reaction upon this discovery was apt: he had a minor fit then threw up.
Back in the “real” world, while we’re not exactly being bred–thankfully–for the sole purpose of exploiting our energy potential The Matrix-style, news out of Britain today certainly demonstrates that some institutions are bound to recognize an opportunity to harvest some human energy when they can. Aborted fetuses are castoffs anyway, right? Shouldn’t allow them to go to waste.
At least that’s the wisdom from the fellows ‘cross the pond. From British newspaper The Telegraph:
The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found.
Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning fetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat.
Last night the Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which health minister Dr Dan Poulter branded ‘totally unacceptable.’
At least 15,500 fetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone, Channel 4’s Dispatches discovered.
The program, which will air tonight, found that parents who lose children in early pregnancy were often treated without compassion and were not consulted about what they wanted to happen to the remains.
Nothing like basking in the hearty warmth of human destruction. It isn’t exactly news that morally hollow groups of people throughout history haven’t given much thought to the wholesale devaluation of human life. Nazi crematoriums disposed of millions of similarly depreciated humans without much in the way of afterthought. But despite the utter efficiency of that particular abattoir, they burned so many humans simply to cover their crime. Even they didn’t think to, ah, kill two birds with one stone and double the ovens as makeshift energy factories. On this count, today’s British have sunk lower than sworn-enemy, 1940’s Nazis. Let that percolate a bit.
Or, who knows, perhaps I’m taking a far too fatalist view here. If the idea was to cut back on energy consumption, maybe this practice is to be commended? I don’t know. How many fetuses are in your standard “carbon footprint”?
Where was I? Ah, yes. Fast forward seventy years now. The British–along with other World War II participants–have the benefit of history to function as a check on the comparative morality of our behaviors, but what have we managed? Not to avoid similar descents into human debasement, but rather, to double down on it. These aren’t sociopathic totalitarians, either. It’s occurring in hospitals, in which many of us–foolishly, it seems–assume that maintaining human dignity is supposed to be the default. In this respect, it’s the exception to the rule. Hitler–not making light of his sins–was at least going about empire building when he was burning people up. Evil men do that. What is our excuse?
This story is–unfortunately–yet another exhibit in a growing sense of cultural apathy that seems to be plaguing the developed world. The United Kingdom is burning aborted and miscarried babies to scrimp and save on their energy bills. In the U.S., while we might not yet have traded Duracells for fetuses–yet–we still manage to abort over a million unborn children a year for the sake of sexual and personal convenience. One in five pregnancies ends with an aborted baby. 45.8% of all children live in single mother, never-married households–only 39.4% of black children live with two parents. We’ve mortgaged the futures of as-yet unborn generations with massive, intractable debt to buy ourselves stuff. Pre-paid debit cards issued during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were squandered on porn, tropical vacations and NFL tickets.
More examples abound. All is evidence of creeping societal sclerosis: a sense that human life is expendable or subject to degradation; that the interests of buying stuff for ourselves today outweighs any sense of responsibility to prosperity’s ability to pay for it; or the idea that your countrymen’s generosity in time of need isn’t to be faithfully stewarded, but squandered on Mai-Tai’s or hanky-panky.
When we’re burning the unborn for energy, or leaving budgetary calamities for the future to grapple with, I’m wont to say that the gig is up. Time to turn out the lights. Because we aren’t dealing in mere fiscal deficits any longer, but those of character. A character of thrift, respect for life, and a sense of responsibility to each other that America and her allies used to abide, but have since allowed to disintegrate. These are harder to reclaim than a broken political system. If aborted babies are nothing but kindling to stoke the furnaces of our medical buildings, it may be too late.
In the words of National Review commentator Kevin Williamson:
“Some days, you pray for a meteor”.
We may have hit that threshold.