Monday, 29 February 2016

Vanquishing the 'ver-men'

A significant factor in man's ability to obliterate his fellow man, as has happened on countless occasions, is to view him as less than human: mere vermin to be exterminated.

Such a mentality is usually witnessed amongst competing cultures or races; the different and inferior 'others'. It is not, however, exclusive to inter-racial conflicts. It exists within cultures, too, where you have an unwanted subgroup that is, in the least worst instance, pushed to the margins.

Some of the many homeless of Bogotá DC, Colombia.
'I hope they give the dog some food.' (Photo from Facebook.)
In terms of Colombia, it's a question of 'where do you start' as regards these 'inferior' groups. Perhaps that's another reason why little is done to accommodate them, there are just too many — that and of course the fact that a lot of them are not only seen as a subgroup but subhuman as well. Indeed, a street dog generally has a greater chance of being shown some sympathy and nourishment than any of Colombia's numerous destitute. Stories about abused dogs — terrible as they are — tend to make headline news here more frequently than the ongoing human hardship.

Now while the problem is easy to identify — Bogotá's streets are full of 'ghastly' homeless to name but one type of the country's neglected — finding a solution is far from straightforward. How do you improve the lot for people who just don't fit with the dominant, capitalist system? The old saying of 'give a man a fish, he has food for a day; teach a man how to fish and he has food for life' springs to mind.

Yes, education is a help, yet there's a high chance that any 'fish' many of the less well-off Colombians might 'catch' would be just exploited by greater powers higher up the chain of command. This scenario isn't exclusive to Colombia either. In a global context, with a rapidly growing population, the gap between the minority haves and the majority have nots is expanding in tandem.

There is a plausible school of thought arguing that this is just the way things are. The laws of nature suggest there are those who dominate and those who are subjugated. What's more, even if there was a magical solution where the globe's most impoverished were instantly 'upgraded' to a Western middle-class standard, at current consumption levels we'd also need a few more planets magically created in order to sustain us.

Thus, the hope must be that scientific advancements lead to far more efficient ways of going about our daily lives, progress that not only improves conditions for those already living relatively comfortably, but that boosts society as a whole.

On the flip side, if very little changes, the ranks of the global have nots looks set to swell to a point where trying to cater for them will become unsustainable. Save for a planned culling and/or a deadly world war, a systematic neglect may prove the best solution; left to die, quite literally. The doctors might have the cure but it's felt the patients aren't worth saving.

All you have to do is make sure you're on the doctors' side and not seen as one of those surplus-to-requirements 'ver-men'.
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