Category Archives: Ethics

How do I do it?

I get asked that so much. So much that I have a draft prepared answer in my head, which I vary depending on the situation. Something about seeing both sides of it, etc.

But it still affects you. You wouldn’t be doing it if it it didn’t. It’s just that every so often, after a bad couple of days, something really hits you. And then you ask yourself, how do I continue?

Hope. When it seems like all hope has gone.

The bottom line is, life isn’t fair. Full stop. How I justify that ethically, religiously, medically, only God knows right now.

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I wrote this on the 3rd and instead of posting it I rang up a close friend, told her of the issue and she met me in town that afternoon. Spending time with her made me feel better, not only because she told me some hopeful news, but also because she reminded me that it’s ok to have questions, doubts and uncertainities. So although the above babblings are still relevant, true and saddening, I’m not freaked about it making me question my religious standing. It’s just something I have to work through. And I apologise if none of this makes any sense to anyone…

Eating Ethically

I’ve recently increased the proportion of my diet which is organic.  Not because I’ve become more aware of the importance of eating organically, and the general improvement in the quality of organic food.  But because of my location.  I now live 10 minutes walk from an Organic Supermarket, and we have arranged for organic fruit and veg boxes to be delivered to our house from them, once a fortnight.  Our veg box is entirely British, so it is completely dependent on the seasons.  It has it’s advantages and disadvantages – it means that we have a constant supply of fruit and veg in, it encourages us to eat in tune with the seasons, and its all good quality stuff which I don’t have to drag up the hill inbetween shifts.  It also encourages us to eat stuff that we wouldn’t normally do so, but then if there are items in the boxes which we simply don’t like, then it’s a bit tricky.  You just have to find someone who does like them, and if that fails then you end up feeding it to the compost.  The other slight disadvangtage is that each fortnights veg box comes with potatos – something that we like, we’re just not in the habit of eating v.often.  About once a week or so, I’ll look into the potato drawer and say ‘right – we’re eating some potatos tonight!’  We could have got a potato free veg box, but we opted for the local, British one instead.

The other ethical food scheme that we’re trying out, is a milk jug system in Waitrose.  Basically you buy a special jug for a couple of quid, and then you buy sealed bags of milk.  The jug lid spikes a hole in the milk bag, when the bag is placed inside the jug, and then you can pour milk from the jug.  Simple.  Except Mr B set up the jug and I didn’t realise the milk had to stay in the bag, and tried to pour it out into the jug, and made a big mess…  It seems really good because it cuts down on packaging by 75% and it means you don’t end up with piles of plastic milk bottles which the council don’t collect, so they sit there until you get round to taking them to the bottle bank.  But, as I realised today when our milk ran out, every time we need milk, we’ll have to drive to Waitrose.  Which seems to contridict the point slightly.  I suppose I could cycle there… it’s just up a big hill.  Maybe if we buy a weeks worth of milk bags then we won’t have to make as many trips, and maybe we can call in there when we’re passing anyway.  I’m sure we’ll figure something out.

Ethics

When is it right to say ‘enough is enough’ and stop medical treatment?  There is a line.  Somewhere.

I had a discussion with someone recently about this – she didn’t want to ‘play God’ by turning off the machines.  Which I completely understood and respected, but there are times when the person is never going to be alive without X and Y and Z machine.  So, is it fair?  Is it ethical?  In a way, as I pointed out in this discussion, by using these machines, we are already playing God.  These people would have died already, if it hadn’t been for the machines that we’ve invented.  Which of course, in many cases is a good thing, but there is a line which must be drawn at some point.  It is possible to keep a completely brain dead person ‘alive’ with machines.

These are all issues I have to quite frequently discuss, and therefore ponder upon.  But when suddenly they’re being discussed about a member of my own family, it’s completely different.  My Grandad was taken into hospital today.  And it doesn’t sound good.

Every brain cell in my head tells me that he’s had a very good life – he’s 89 and he’s certainly lived a fulfilled life.  If he deteriorates further, my medical knowledge knows that there isn’t any point in massively up scaling treatment.  But my heart is still hugely saddened at the thought.

Packing

Am I completely mad for being addicted to packing?  Maybe it’s just because I’m excited about this house move, or maybe it’s just cos I’m strange, but I have this incredibly urge to pack everything NOW!  And I’m not moving for two weeks!

I’ve known I’m going to move at the end of February for some time now, so when I’ve been bored on nights shifts, I’ve planned out the move.  I’ve moved so many times in the past couple of years, that I know which items go in which boxes, etc, so I planned out when I was going to pack which bits, for example books, folders, food, material, clothes, shoes, etc.  But before I could do any packing, I needed to build all of the boxes which had been flatted out in the top of my wardrobe, since my last house move, last May.  So todays job was to re-build the boxes.  That was it.  Except I got carried away and decided to pack half of them….  I’ve only packed the smaller ones, with pretty much all of my books.  It makes sense to do them first, as I’m unlikely to need many of them in the next two weeks.  And I am in work a lot over the next two weeks, so I need to start packing early.  But still.  I do feel slightly mad / over-organised / excited (depending which way you look at it).  Oh well, it’s done now.  I only have to sit on my itching-to-pack-hands for another half hour, when Mr B is picking me up so we can go Up North for the weekend.

More Snow and Ice

We’ve had a lot more snow here – Friday morning it was really heavy, forcing me to walk to work, and due to the deep frost, it hasn’t properly melted even now. Saturday morning when I walked the two miles to work again, I was one of the first people to walk along the ice rinked pavements – as it was 6am. In my job it is quite difficult to get to work on time with weather like this. Many people live out in the country, and they’ve either not been able to get in, or have come in late. Because we start so early, and most of the snow fall has been overnight, then all the roads are still covered with snow. On Friday absolutely none of the roads had been gritted, so on Friday night when the snow was still prominent on the ground, and temperatures when down to -7C, it made it incredibly dangerous. At least until the sun came up.

And my department isn’t exactly one where you can manage with half the staff. I heard a story of one department where the every single nurse rang in on Friday morning, to say they’d be unable to come in or they’d be late. The night staff were forced to stay until someone arrived to take over from them. Yesterday I heard that at a residential house in the country the carers had been unable to get home since Thursday. There have been other sad and tragic, medical stories which I know of, which may have turned out differently if it weren’t for the weather. On the other hand though, when a vial of medicine was required from the other side of the country, it managed to be specially couriered through the snow and it was given successfully to my patient.

At the moment the remaining snow is slowly melting and I’m hoping we don’t get anymore – at least not when I’m trying to get to or from work! I don’t mind cycling in the middle of the day, when there’s some snow around, because most of the roads are clear. But at 6am, you can’t tell what it’s going to be like.

On a slightly different subject – I discovered the other day that the radiator in my room was off. It has numbers 1 to 6, and then an picture of a snow flake, and it had been on the snow flake since I moved in last May. Since the beginning of winter I’ve always thought my room was quite cold, but generally I just put another jumper on. And I didn’t think anything else of it. I can’t believe I was so stupid not to check the radiator. But, on the other hand, I am quite impressed that I survived most of a fairly cold winter without any heating in my room. It’s very ecologically friendly. My window is single glazed – think what proper insulation and a couple of jumpers would do for the environment and your heating bill!

“Vegetarism is Unbibical”

According to a relative of mine.

I’ve just come back from visiting relatives down in Cornwall, mainly because my Grandparents are getting older and more fragile and I wanted to make sure I saw them again.  But I stayed with other relatives, and at the dinner table on the first night, one of these relatives asks me why I’m vegetarian.  I say that it’s mainly due to environmental reasons – I’ve done a fair amount of reading around the subject, and eating meat considerably increases your carbon footprint.  I’m not going to demand that anyone else turns veggie, but that is why I chose to become vegetarian.  He, in response to this, claims that the bible tells you that you must eat meat, so therefore, by not eating meat I am defing the bible.  I was quite taken aback by this accusation – I am quite aware that I have sinned against the bible, but vegaratism was not on my list of ‘sins’!  I resisted saying ‘What?!?! That’s *%$^£*!!!!’ and instead formed a rational argument back.  I stated that the bible tells us to take care of the world, and because meat has such an effect on your carbon footprint, then not eating it is one of the small things that I can do to help protect the environment.  He replied that the bible doesn’t say anything about carbon footprints, so he doesn’t believe it.  Well of course the bible doesn’t say anything about carbon footprints – humans hadn’t destroyed the world by then, I replied.  Science, I explained, has proven meat consumptions impact on the environment, since the bible was written!  My relative simply stated that he believed the bible, not science.  I could see I was never going to change his fundimentalist viewpoint, so I replied with ‘well, I take both the bible and science with interpretation’.  And we agreed to disagree.

He just made me so annoyed.  I did my best to control my anger, mainly because he’s someone I love and I didn’t want to get into a blazing row with him, especially because it was obvious he was never going to alter his views.  But for the rest of the evening, there was a little ranting voice in my head.  He took one of the Christian-based decisions I have made, and declared I was defing Christianity by doing it!!  Maybe I should have told him that at SCM events there are more veggies than non-veggies – are they all heretics?! Don’t answer that question – SCMers maybe heretics, but not for being *%&^$ veggie!!!

Ok, rant over.  For the rest of the weekend I avoided any religious discussions.  After attending their church on Sunday and biting my tongue throughout the 50 minute sermon, I was asked at the dinner table what I thought of it, and I simply said ‘it was ok’.  Which I feel slightly ashamed of, but there were two kids at the table and considering I disagreed with something in every minute of the sermon, I just didn’t want to start that inevitable argument.

Homemade Wine

So back in June, when Mr B went on holiday for 2 weeks, a friend and I decided to engage in a girlie project – making elderflower wine. On our allotment there is an elderflower tree hanging over the wall, so we picked all the flowers we could reach (double the amount the recipe required), bought all the other required ingredients (doubling everything), and made elderflower and raisin wine. Just before Greenbelt we bottled 10 bottles of it, at Greenbelt we discovered how strong it was when we shared a bottle at a BBQ, and after Greenbelt I was given my half of the remaining wine bottles. We had a social event at our house a week or so ago, when the majority of one of these bottles was consumed – with everyone having about the amount you’d have if you were drinking neat spirits, because it had that much of a kick to it. I’ve just spent a lovely, quiet evening in: watching a film, eating fairly traded chocolate and drinking the rest of this bottle of wine. I had one glass over 2 hours. Which for a normal glass of wine wouldn’t really affect me. And yet it feels like I’ve drunk a least half a bottle. The worrying thing is, I have no idea how much percentage it actually is. Mr B bought a hydrometer recently, but when you place it inside one of our bottles, you can’t see the reading because it’s too cloudy. If anyone knows of a container that we could put some wine into, so that we could get the hydrometer close enough to the edge of the glass to read it – it would be much appreciated! For now though, I’m going to find some water and head to bed! I’ve got a study day tomorrow that I’d prefer not to be hungover during!

Some difficult questions

Is one life equal to another? Is it fair to put a number of lives at risk, to possibly save one? These are difficult questions, which can’t be answered at the time. You can look back in hindsight and say ‘well, x, y and z should / shouldn’t have happened’, and you can do your best to learn from the experience. But you can’t change what happened. And you can’t predict that if the situation had been different, the outcome wouldn’t have been the same. This is what makes it so difficult.

For these reasons, and some others, this past week or so has been difficult. I think that everyone involved has to learn what they can from the experiences, take a few deep breaths and move on. Easier said than done. I’m just glad I’m going on holiday next week – I think I need it.

Vegetarianism

I had a request to blog about how my new veggie diet was going. So I thought I would do.

Generally very well. The only meat I’ve really missed is bacon. I think its the smell. I’m beginning to find that my instinctive, internal reaction to meat is negative. Except bacon. That still requires some self control.

Since the first week I haven’t forgotten. Not that I really forgot in the first week, but I did have a couple of moments when I nearly picked out the ham sandwich, before I remembered. I’ve only eaten meat once since deciding I was veggie. I was at Birmingham New Street station, desperate for a pasty and also in a mad rush from one platform to another. Given there was about 1000 people also rushing to the change of platform, I figured I had time to stop at the pasty shop and buy a cheese and onion pasty. It wasn’t until I got onto the train and had eaten half the pasty that I realised I’d been given a chicken and onion pasty (I was very hungry). Anyway, I decided it would be wasteful not to eat it, now I’d accidentally ended up with it.

I haven’t yet used up the meat in my freezer. There are three pieces of chicken left. This is partly because I’ve dived into the veggie thing, and it seems odd now to cook chicken. And partly because I’ve had an offer from a Very Good Cook to make a yummy dish for me with these last pieces of meat.

I’m quite enjoying trying out new meals within these new limits. In fact, I’ve not really found it limiting, I’ve found it liberating because I’ve been trying all sorts of new food that I wouldn’t have touched otherwise. I have been eating more fish and sea food. Which given that I’ve allowed myself it, because my main reason is the impact that meat production causes on CO2 production and consequently on the environment, is justified. I think. I know fish farming isn’t great either, but in terms of my diet balance I think its important. And I do love fish.

My mum’s initial reaction to my vegginess was to be concerned about my diet. I have a medical condition which is affected by diet. But having read around it, I don’t think that cutting meat out of my diet will impact badly upon this. Basically as long as I eat healthily, and make sure I am getting my protein from elsewhere, then I think its ok. Given that I have been anemic in the past (I never ate much red meat anyway), I will probably get this tested after a while, to check its ok. In the meantime I’ll have to eat lots of spinach!

I spent Easter weekend with some friends in Bristol, who had an interesting reaction to vegetarianism. One guy there, who I didn’t know prior to that weekend, declared that vegginess was a way of living, beyond just your choice of diet. This was an interesting theory, which I was initially sceptical of but warmed slowly to. Basically, if you are a true veggie, then you will always choose the less selfish, least comfortable option in life. So you walk into a room full of sofas, and you sit on the floor. Or you cycle / walk instead of going by car. My argument against this, was that I enjoy cycling and walking, so therefore it is the preferable option when possible. It was an interesting theory, but I’m not entirely convinced.

New bike and Yummy Treats

I collected my new bike this morning! Its fab! I can ride up hills without too much effort and everything works beautifully.

For my birthday last July and when I graduated, I was given some money to put towards a car for work. But parking anywhere is so impossible here, and I’m so central that I don’t need a car, so I decided to spend the money on a better bike. This one is much better quality, should last a lot longer and I had 25% off the retail price!

There was some debate over what I’m going to do with my old bike. I was tempted to give it to a local homeless charity which does old bikes up for homeless people. But my parents pointed out that my sister and I are often complaining that there isn’t a bike at home suitable for us to use, when we’re at home (on holiday) and wanting to cycle somewhere. So it’s going home. Given that I had some money spare with the sale in the shop, I decided to leave my v.old lock and lights with my old bike for home use, and buy myself some new ones. So earlier this afternoon I fitted the new fittings onto my new bike. And now it really is set to go!

After picking it up, I cycled over to the organic farmers market and bought local cheese, freshly baked bread and homegrown mushrooms. This afternoon I walked up the hill and went to my regular local fruit and veg shop, and stocked up with food that I didn’t buy this morning at the market. And I discovered Burnt Sugar, in the Oxfam up there. They claim to be set to do what Green and Blacks did to chocolate, to the sweet market. Its all fairly traded, carbon neutral and very yummy! I treated myself to a bar of their fudge, and have made subtle obvious hints in reference to their honeycomb and chocolate easter egg. 😀