I went to the first Post-Switch-Off Panel meeting. There were a lot of very grim faces. It’s a really tough subject. I suppose, also, everybody’s realising they’re going to have to face switch-off as well.
It is such striking thought .We take it for granted. They always told us on the schooling programme that it was a respectful end to a valued and useful life and it was the price we had to pay for the easy, comfortable time we had on Terrestra. It does sound all right in theory. But I guess when you’re facing it, when your time comes up, it must be terrifying. I can’t imagine not being alive. I guess that’s why people used to believe in heaven and God and things like that. So that they could hope we carry on after our body’s gone.
“We’ll have to limit birth,” said one woman. “Increase the Stopes programme.”
“No point!” replied another man. “The NIZers won’t live to switch-off age. Too much damage has already been done.”
“But what about their children?” asked someone else? “And what happens if they pair up with Normal Zoners? What happens then? The second generation are likely to be as healthy as Normal Zoners?”
Then I found myself speaking.
“Well, why don’t we go even further?” I said. “Why don’t we behave like every other planet and have contact from outside and allow illness back in, so that some people don’t last so long?”
“We couldn’t do that!” shouted one woman. “After all we’ve worked towards over the centuries.”
“Isolation and hositlity,” I muttered.
“Well, she would say that, Peace Child whore,” shouted somebody was.
Unbelievable that people like that are on this committee.
Fortunately the chair soon brought the meeting to order and was kind enough to say: “Mz Lawrence was actually asked to join this committee because of her excellent ability to empathise with two opposed factions. Anyone who is not comfortable with that should leave now and we’ll find a replacement.” Then he turned to me and smiled. “But we do have to take things slowly,” he said.
Gosh, was I angry, when I met the others at the Laguna.
“Good for you,” said Rosemarie. “You just show them!”
They were really sympathetic and they have started to think about the Switch-Off question. I don’t know that they really understand all of the issues, but even so.