Following a 2008 Kentucky Derby race a runner-up horse stumbled as it completed the race, most likely due to a broken ankle, and was immediately euthanized.
Otherwise a horse in her prime, Eight Bells was not fit to live simply because she malfunctioned. Second place in the race was not good enough to honor her with life. Bred for speed, strength and winning, a treatable injury made her unfit for any further money-making gain.
The ‘mercy’ killing of this horse carries a message: If it doesn’t deliver to the expectations, dump it – just as we dump leftover food, household garbage, yesterday’s newspapers, a broken toy, used car. Because Eight Bells was unlikely to race ever again, someone decided that she was no longer fit to live. Nursing her back to health again, with no prospect of a profit, was not considered convenient
The incident breathes with cynicism so prevalent to the culture of western consumerism that quickly disposes of everything that stands in the way of convenience. Dumped gadgets, disposed unborn babies and euthanized lives are only the scattered examples of a paradigm that treats everything and everybody as a cheap commodity. And a deluge of movie thrillers and TV soaps, in which most of the characters live and die for nothing, is only a metaphor for a society that is losing its moral compass. But there are more prevailing ways that define our culture as one of disposable values. At this moment I am thinking of the poor, too numerous to count, whose poverty is being perpetuated by the design and paradigms of global economics. For only in the world of the multitudes of the poor, there can be a few who are extremely rich.
I am thinking also of many elderly people, children in foster homes and others who cannot afford social security, healthcare or a home – who, when hit with sickness, joblessness or home foreclosure, are being treated as a social nuisance or outcasts.
I am thinking of the countless of employees too who, having worked dedicatedly for many years in a single company, are suddenly laid off on the altar of corporate advancements, with no prospect of new decent employment. I can’t help but think also about the waves of dehumanized refugees on the move seeking a new home in a safe environment who are contained in cages, filthy refugee camps, many of who have no prospect of ever again becoming citizens of any country.
I am thinking of the thousands of young men in uniform whose lives are forfeit the moment they are plunged into the wars that should have never happened. And I am thinking of a devastated environment and the consequences of deliberate ruin brought upon our planet by the arrogant few who could care less should a deluge sweep the Earth after they are gone.
Ultimately, the ‘mercy’ killing of Eight Bells makes me think of a society in distress; one that urgently needs healing of its moral fabric. Torn apart by the lack of moral accountability, our generation calls for the prophets who will declare, plain and clear, that there is more to the substance of life than being measured by its commercial usefulness and its expected expiration date.