Dystopia Today | Teen Ink

Dystopia Today

April 30, 2018
By bookworm07 BRONZE, Bluffton, Indiana
bookworm07 BRONZE, Bluffton, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments

I just came up with a great idea for a dystopian novel. Let me know what you think:

In the future, healthcare is completely government-controlled. While some people like the system, it has a major drawback: the government has complete control over life and death, and the government does not always do what is right. The protagonist is blind to the injustices of the system until her sick toddler brother is taken off of life support against the objections of her family, despite the fact that they could seek treatment for him in another country, whose leaders are perfectly willing to have the toddler transported there and treated. Instead, the hospital gains custody of the child, he is taken off of life support, and he dies a few days later. This prompts the main character into action, and she joins a small (yet growing) group of people devoted to overthrowing the government and replacing it with a new one that actually protects its citizens’ rights instead of trampling on them for convenience.

Sounds pretty good, right? However, truth be told, the situation described isn’t really dystopian, per say. Parts of it are already quite sickeningly real. As I write these words, the internet is buzzing of the news of Alfie Evans’ death. Alfie Evans was a sick toddler who was taken off of life support against his family’s objections, despite the fact that Italy offered him transportation to the country, treatment, and citizenship.

Now, it’s true that Alfie Evans had a degenerative brain condition. His life was, in all likelihood, already doomed to be a short one. However, does that justify taking him off of life support? Or doing so despite parental objection and offers of treatment from other countries? Supposedly, the hospital did what it did because it was the “humane” thing to do, but even if it was in Alfie’s best interests to take him off of life support, it should not have been the hospital’s decision. It should have been the parents’. Besides, what if Polish doctor Dr. Izabela Pa?gan was right when she claimed that Alfie had been misdiagnosed and was not brain-dead? Would any of us want to take that risk with our own child? “Well, you might not be brain-dead, but we’re going to let the hospital take you off of life support just in case you are.” Sounds insane, right? That’s because it is.

Situations like these are what happens when we allow the government to have too much influence in our lives. Suddenly, things that used to be considered basic human rights (such as life) become disposable if they don’t seem “worth it,” according to some kind of twisted cost-benefit analysis. Humans are no longer valuable in light of their humanity. Instead, they are valuable because they don’t take up too many resources. Because they are, at least for now, “worth it.”

Perhaps Alfie really was brain-dead (although the fact that he then survived days without life support could indicate otherwise). Perhaps taking him off of life support was the humane thing to do. But perhaps we should let parents make these types of decisions, seeing as it is their children’s lives that are at stake. Instead of this, though, the government exercised its never-ever-incorrect judgment and decided to let Alfie die. Because that’s how socialized medicine works. It sounds dystopian indeed. If only that’s all it was.

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