A few years ago one of our family dogs got sick. Her name was Sugar, she was a Bijon Frize, she could steal and drink your coffee without spilling it, and she was one of my best friends. We took her to the vet and after some tests found out she needed to have surgery. She was an older dog when she got sick, but could have lived for a few more years after getting better. Unfortunately after the surgery she didn’t stay better for very long. She had gotten some kind of infection that wasn’t going away with regular antibiotics. The vet couldn’t be sure what it was without more tests. My mother spent a small fortune on that surgery and these tests, which weren’t even guaranteed to find the answer, were also expensive as would have been further treatment. It wasn’t long after her surgery she got real sick again, she wouldn’t eat, or drink, she couldn’t get off the bed. So we took her for her last car ride. And there we were with a dead dog and getting even fewer groceries. I think that was the first time I ever saw my mom cry.
There’s also my grandmother, Dorothy. I used to think we were never that close, but I’ve come to realize I had merely come to know some of my other relatives better and kind of took her for granted. I mean she’d helped take care of us, especially when we were younger; I remember her at all the birthdays and cookouts and I remember she loved to take us out to eat when she came to visit, nothing fancy, usually just the food court at the mall, or something like that. She had always mixed up people’s names, my mom and her siblings confirm as much and I can also recall her driving not exactly being the best, so it was no surprise when she mixed up names and had more difficulty driving. But eventually she started saying she could see these dogs in the wooded area outside her apartment complex. No one else could see them and no could find anything in the woods, maybe a weird rock, or a wayward hoodie, that could look like a dog. They shortly became ghost dogs and demon dogs trying to get into her apartment. As terrifying as demon dogs must have been, she took the advice of her kids and upon seeing the dogs again to tell them they’re not real and to go away and it worked. When she started a fire while cooking, no one wanted to put her in a home, but it became increasingly difficult and expensive to deliver her microwavable and prepared foods.
She’s now been to a few. The first one was terrible: they could not keep track of any paper work, or financial information; it smelled like urine on her entire floor because they kept soiled laundry in basket in a hallway closet; they kept several residents requiring more intense physical care on the same floor ill-equipped to care for those residents; my grandmother’s clothes and belonging would routinely go missing; and when she was moved and my mom and aunt went to pick up her what remained of her clothes and belongings they found them in plastic trash bags in a shed outside. And almost everything was ruined because mice nested inside. The one she’s at now is better, but it’s far from an ideal environment for anyone. She looks like a ghost, pale and gaunt. You can’t really have a conversation with her; she doesn’t make sense and can’t hear well enough even when the staff hasn’t lost the hearing aids, or dentures for that matter. She does not know what day it is, she didn’t recognize one of my cousins, and she didn’t recognize me the last time I saw her.
I also have friends who have lost parents to preventable illnesses, friends who stand to be homeless because of inherited debt and I struggle to fathom how they go about their lives in a state other than constant stress and sorrow.
So much of this suffering was preventable, so much of it could have been mollified, and so many lives could have been lived more fully before their inevitable conclusions. It could have been different because we live in a post scarcity world – although you wouldn’t know it by looking around. There is enough food, water, shelter, medicines, for literally everyone and yet somehow it all becomes more expensive and harder to get.
For generations now, politicians and bankers have parasitically drained the wealth from people and nations while exploiting natural resources into such ruin that the species itself may face oblivion. As we face that oblivion now, they will hold on with tightening chains to keep together their crumbling world at our expense until we have nothing left to expend. There are no other choices than for all of us to die in their decaying world, or we can build and live in our new one.
So think of your families and loved ones remember while we work ourselves to an early grave to keep the lights going and food on the table, never really being more than broken leg away from out of the job and out on the streets there are ill-made men sitting on luxury super yachts and drinking champagne worth more than what we make in month. While we break the bank for gas, insurance, and car maintenance they have a collection sitting in a private garage. And while we bury our dead they shit in golden toilets that they paid for with the profits from our hard work, and the hard work of our parents and grandparents. The anger and outrage here does not stem from petty jealousy, but from injustice so wide spread it’s considered the natural and immutable order of the world. It is not natural, nor is it immutable; it is an obscenity against nature and goodness itself.
Chains of debt are more efficient than iron shackles could ever be: keeping us dependent on preforming tasks and selling our time to rich men to make them richer. And if we ever want justice, if we even want to just survive the sixth mass extinction, then with urgency and agency we must begin building our new world and tearing down their old one.