Embalmed perfectly in Instagram


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Our family dog needs an operation on her right leg.  Plate and pins.  Bone work to fix a ligament problem.  Cruciate Ligament.  It’s a phrase I know through football (soccer).  An operation here, a few weeks off there, then back to business as usual.  Everything’s alright.

The right to life.  The right to health.  We all have rights.  Even a Bill of Rights.  A bill we are paying later today.

Rights cost money.

And the operation we are funding costs £4,000.00 (if all goes to plan).  And we are  changing our lifestyle for these next “few weeks off”.  Our dog  gets (physically) anxious when left alone – plus she cannot go upstairs while recuperating.  So we have arranged a temporary home-office downstairs for me – and we will take turns sleeping downstairs at night with our dog.

Rights need money.

We are fortunate that I work from home.  We are fortunate that we can dovetail our time in the house so that our dog has company 24/7.  We have the money to give that time.

And as for whether we should even be spending that amount of money on “a dog” …

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When we got the news … the look on Mrs Paul’s face allowed no room for “maybes” or “perhaps” or even “but this is a dog we are talking about”.  Mrs Paul is not talking about “a dog” – she is talking about family.  And family looks after family.  No matter what.

It caused me to ponder on how we take our “right” to health/medical treatment for granted.  We have the National Health Service.  Funded out of taxes paid by all.  By me.  A health service that is not perfect.  But then …

Nothing is perfect.  Ever.

Because had we been faced with having to fund our own healthcare … without any choice in the matter … alongside those who have even more money than us … alongside those who have far less … During times of our lives when we had little money … when our children and their young families had little money … Through all the cycles of “financial austerity and abundance” … With (or without) the (very) conditional safety net of “private health insurance” … the very conditional “maybes” and “perhaps” of corporate profit-margins …

All of that “stuff” I have never had to face because … “free healthcare is our right” …

Because if I had to … I wonder what value I would place on my life.  On yours.  On each other’s.  I wonder how that would shift my expectation of “my rights”.  I wonder whether that shift would make me a better or worse person.  A more or less caring person.  A more or less loving person.

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I remember “The Big C”.  A word so terrifying it was reduced to one capital letter.  A word never to be uttered.  The diagnosis was a death sentence.  No amount of money could beat The Big C.  All that was left were tears and putting one’s affairs in order for “after”.

Now the word is uttered.  Now the cure is possible.  All we need is more money to beat this abhorrent affliction of nature.

And we are back to money again.  Money and rights.  And need.

The right to need for selfies.  For Instagram.  For perfection . The need right to have a perfect image.  The right need to live forever.  The need right to have the perfect body in which we can live forever.  A perfect body that never ages.  In which we can make perfect love forever.  Live a perfect life.  A body and lifestyle embalmed perfectly in Instagram.  Our right need for personal digital perfection in our lives of earned indulgence and narcissism rights.

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Rights and needs have been confused.

Nothing is perfect.  Ever.

Our dog – and her world – is teaching me that.

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