Monday, February 18, 2008


The Kidney Highway and Us

I read this short story once that curled my toes. It was set in the future where the divide between the rich and the poor had become absolute and a young mother was trying to hide her child from the body parts snatchers. Which in the story was legal. The snatchers had the legal right to take body parts from the poor to sell to the rich. It was like hunting game animals. The story was absurd, but there was an underlying truth that haunted me. Because the rich have been using the bodies of the poor for whatever they needed without pay or adequate pay for eons…for prostitution, slavery, semi-slavery wages, child labour, fodder for the armies of the rich, medical experiments…so how great a stretch is it for rich people to think they have some sort of right to the body parts of the poor when they need them?

I don’t think it’s that big of a stretch. After all, when rich Canadians need nannies they are prone to summon mothers from poor countries whose own children are near starvation. The poverty stricken mothers come to Canada and the US to care for the pampered darlings of the rich while their own children go motherless and uncared for a continent away. This practice is so prevalent that some Pilipino writers are describing the Philippines as a country without mothers. And it’s a practice that will continue as long as poor mothers feel compelled to feed their children even if it means they must leave them. . So if rich people can induce poor mothers to leave their own children in order to send back enough money to feed the kids, why would these rich people have any qualms about buying or effectively stealing kidneys or other body parts from the poor? The fact is, they don’t. That early short story that freaked me has come true. The kidney highway is the very darkest underbelly of corporate capitalism. But I think it also might well contribute to its downfall. Betty Krawczyk

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