A CASE FOR SALVAGING NOT DISPOSING

An unbearable tooth pain followed by a dental consultation showed a root canal infection needing immediate attention. As the doctor dealt with it, quite severely in fact because of the extent of infection, I distracted myself with a muse about the medical profession. I realized it is indeed a noble profession, because its goal is basically to save and salvage as much as possible, human life and human existence. At least in essence that’s the core of the Hippocratic Oath that ensures that both the intention and the action of the profession would be to help rather than harm their patients.The oath, in fact, embodies a curse on oneself if this focus is absence so that the outlook and attitude of itis practitioners be one of saving and salvaging rather than disposing and destroying!

Salvaging is a term related to ships and seas, marine salvage being the process of recovering a ship and its cargo after a shipwreck or other maritime casualty. Salvage may encompass towing, re-floating a vessel, or effecting repairs to a ship. The first known salvage was in 219 BC, the Chinese Emperor Qin Shihuang (r. 221–210 BC) assembled an expedition consisting of a thousand people for the salvage of the Nine Tripod Cauldrons. The tripods were considered important artifacts, Chinese legends credit a Xia dynasty emperor with their construction. The tripods were lost in Sishui River in present-day Anhui Province. The salvage attempt was ultimately unsuccessful.

Today’s society is programmed and geared up to easy disposal rather than salvaging or recovering. Take any product, big or small, launched by any company , big or small, the focus seems be to produce and market a product that last only for a maximum of two or three years. The design specs and the manufacturing focus is not to last long, but that it should wear out in a few years time. Gone are the days when everything was built to last and durability, reliability and longevity determined the integrity of a product. Now, constant and continuous change is the mantra of society and fluidity that belies stability and sustainability is the watchword of the hour. The result of such an ethos and environment has triggered an artificial appetite for constant upgrade that keeps looks beyond and therefore, not easily satisfied or contented. Change is good when it is part of natural flow of things,but change for the sake of change is unreal and unhealthy.

The by-product of such an outlook is the enormous build up of garbage and junk, the outcome of this favoring of disposal and a craving for everything new every time. What is the use of complaining of leaching landfills, contaminated water bodies and loss of greenery when you pile up garbage that is the outcome of an use-and-throw mentality that is encouraged by all and sundry. A perspective that’s wooed by sales, promoted by manufacture and advertised by trade, acquiring the in thing of the year is the craze that feeds the frenzy! What is the use of introducing umpteen programs for greening of the planet, when you keep stoking the fires of purchase as the entertainment of the day! What’s the use of trying to control the outflow when you are not drying up the collection by shutting up the inflow! What’s the use of any conservation to stem pollution by refuse or boosting reuse, recycle or refurbish when you don’t nip it at the source viz the attitude of easy disposal and disposables! As long as disposal is hyped over salvaging, no program or policy will make this planet green nor teach its people clean!

I was struck by my dentist’s commitment to save my teeth and salvage what remained of it, rather than disposing of it. He kept encouraging me to bear the pain and cooperate with him even it hurt, so that I could hold on to what I already had. It would have been the easiest thing to have just pull the teeth, cleanse the area and go his way. He, however, chose to spend hours bent over my teeth, digging out the infection with a ruthlessness that was quiet daunting. Yet it comforted me because I saw that he would not rest until I was totally free of any infection.

Thanks to him, I now have all my teeth intact with a new appreciation of the medical profession. Thanks to his attitude to save rather than throw out, my face is back to its perfect shape and structure. Thanks to his responsible intention and action to protect and preserve, I am whole again.

Will we similarly ensure that our planet and its people with the right perspective and right development? God help us if we don’t!

*Photos courtesy Shutter Stock and google images

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