Free-range pensioners?

Yay! It’s ethical investment week! And I’m already sick of fair-trade chocolate. And free-range eggs, organic tomatoes and sweatshop-free pashminas. Because they’re not enough. I want more. I want free-range pensioners, I want organic humans, a fairly traded sense of security and independent information. I want security without cruelty, locally grown justice.

Let’s talk Free-Range pensioners. Last week we read the news of yet another pair of octogenarians, married for 60 years, who were about to be split up by Social Services. The system created to care for them was going to split up two old people who have forgotten how to live without each other.

The Daily Mail will no doubt call it a disgrace and a failure by the Labour government. And possibly somehow related to asylum seekers and Muslims. It certainly is disgraceful and it is a failure by government. But if we viewed pensioners and other vulnerable people in our society as Free-Range, we could avoid all this. As with chickens, Free-Range pensioners would be treated as individual lives, whose quality was more important than numbers on a balance sheet. Of course, Free-Range pensioners are currently only available to families of above average means, so let’s campaign to make them standard across the industry by objecting to the New Labour/Conservative belief that public services should be run and treated like businesses. Chickens, eggs or human beings, if profit and targets drive us, quality of life will suffer.

What about organically grown humans? I’m thinking human beings, born in the natural way, conceived in the natural way (I’m aware there are a range of options in both, space for ‘free choice for the discerning consumer’) that don’t require the DNA of animals to make them more perfect than God intended. News last week suggested we may be further than we’d hoped from the Organic goal in terms of fetuses, but we can still choose organic for ourselves. Applying a label reading: ‘“and it was very good” – Gen 1:31’ to your and everyone else’s body, face, skin and hair would be a good start. Convincing people that outside of illness they are probably beautiful as they are is another.

A Fair-Trade sense of security is trickier. Like a lot of Fair-Trade products, it’s likely to cost more. And the first few versions are likely to be unpalatable. The key is to keep pushing them in your church. So at last week’s news that the UK was debating whether to carry on using cluster-bombs (a weapon many civilized countries have discarded as barbaric and cruel), consumers of a secure life should have made it clear that they no longer wanted to buy that life if it came at the expense of the lives of poor people around the globe. More than that, for our sense of security to truly qualify for Fair-Trade status, we should avoid buying security that is linked to ‘sacrificing our children and killing all our enemies’ as Larry Norman once put it. Fair-Trade security is, of course, not just an international issue. It should not harm the domestic market for liberty and democracy either…

And so on. We do-gooders need to expand our horizons from coffee, chocolate and Freeset bags. A just world will require more than consumer influence. It will take democratic power. Government can legislate that every aspect of our lives, every product we consume, is free of the taint cruelty, economic injustice and environmental damage. And as with slavery before it, so far no major party has suggested taking that line, because it threatens the god our society really serves. So how okay are we with the sacrifices Mammon demands? And how much do wee really care about being ethical this week?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: