Thursday, March 26, 2015

I Am Not a Piece of Plastic

About 40 years or so ago, while I was earning my Master of Science in Social Work degree at the University of Louisville’s Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work, one of the ongoing dialogues regarded the unjust nature of the “plastic society” that was and is the norm of the United States.

Plastic, as you know, is inexpensive and therefore disposable. So we dispose of all sorts of containers made of plastic, easily broken toys we give to our children, bags in which we carry our purchases, etc. American society has so bought it to the idea that things are disposable that we create even automobiles, appliances, houses, and much more that are made not to be permanent but to be used up and subsequently disposed of as trash. Sentient beings such as pets and even we ourselves have come to be seen as disposable once our society judges them (us) as no longer having intrinsic value.

We Americans have exported this concept that everything and everyone is disposable to the entire world—a world culture that is based on the monetary worth of things—all things—including human beings.

As I have grown older I have come to realize that I am seen as a plastic “thing.” For example, the United States Veterans Affairs bureaucracy has treated me as a commodity negating my humanity. I qualify this statement by emphasizing that, for the most part, this is not true of VA medical staff. It is quite true of those bureaucrats with whom veterans must deal in order to obtain the promised medical care. One of the ongoing “jokes” I have encountered since I began my association with Veterans Affairs goes:

Thank you for serving. Now, how can we fuck you today?

I have experiences of having my humanity denied, of being treated as a commodity by the Department of Veterans Affairs; I have heard many stories from and about other veterans who have experienced similar treatment.

Many of us have sought justice within the VA. The usual result is that our pleas to be recognized as human beings have been ignored. “Rules” are more important to the bureaucrats than justice, compassion, and humanity.

This injustice and dehumanization goes far beyond the federal bureaucracy of the United States. It is in the corporations of this world, using up their workers and then disposing of them like pieces of trash. It is intrinsic to capitalism and the class system of the United States that has been exported to the entire planet. It is a basic cause of poverty; of genocide and slavery; of the abuse of women, children, the elderly, the physically and emotionally ill; of people smuggling; of racism; of every form of human exploitation.  

My request—my plea—is simple: recognize that we are human beings, not things to be manipulated and disposed of like pieces of plastic. This plea is on behalf of all sentient creatures on the earth. We need a prophet to deliver us from injustice and slavery!

(YHWH) said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
 Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.  The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” ~ Exodus 3.6-10

Here am I, Lord. Send me.

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