Cheap Morality

Coins, by Muffett

I forget who said “societies have the morality they can afford”. For example, societies with limited resources cannot afford to feed and house criminals. It’s cheaper to execute them. 

They can’t afford to keep people who can no longer work, due to illness, age or injury. The tribe moves on and abandons them to suffer and die.

They kill sick and damaged babies. They don’t have the food and resources to spare. 

It’s not that they don’t care. They can’t afford to care.

Fortunately we can.

We live in an immensely rich society. We can afford the luxury of saving sick babies. We can afford to care for the sick, the old and the injured.

We can afford to imprison thieves and hoarders who take and keep more than their fair share of our wealth, instead of taking the cheaper option of hanging them.

And we can afford to take everyone through this pandemic. If we choose to.

Or we can choose to passively euthanise our sick and elderly with a painful, horrible illness.

We can choose to expose children to the virus in schools and use them to, quite by chance, infect those sick and old. 

We can choose to prop up and protect the greedy businessmen and money-hoarders.

If we want to. If we choose to. These are choices, not imperatives.

We can decide to be somewhat poorer for a few years, and save as many lives as possible. Or we can choose to be somewhat richer, having discarded the people we don’t want.

But we cannot say that we cannot afford to be decent and compassionate.

Yes we can. If we choose to be.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)