Perhaps one of the reasons that progress on national child care is so slow, as Sadiya Ansari describes in “Child Care for All” (May), is that finding and keeping quality child care is like a five-year-long Hunger Games for parents. Once your child ages out and doesn’t need it anymore, you have survived, and you can finally turn your back on it all, leaving the mess to those who come behind you. While they’re in it, parents are too overwhelmed and exhausted to organize and demand action, leaving the bulk of that work to academics and child care advocates—the only ones who have the energy to give a damn.
Ansari’s detailed comparison of the German and Canadian child care systems is encouraging. It also highlights that, despite its system’s years of development, Germany still struggles with issues of access and equity, especially for newcomer families. We must address equity issues for racialized families as a matter of priority and ensure that plans for expanding child care prioritize marginalized communities, create culturally safe programs, and reduce barriers to access. We must also address workforce challenges such as low compensation and burnout. Racialized educators and families must be involved in the decision-making process and in the implementation of Canada-wide early learning and child care if we are truly to create a system for all.
A matter of life and death
The university program on dying and grief that David Swick explores in “Students of Death” (May) addresses an important topic. However, I took issue with the professor’s claim that “anyone who gains a thorough understanding of loss, dying, and grief . . . can comfort people who are suffering,” and I question whether one can truly gain a thorough understanding of mortality in an academic context. Having been privileged to walk with people during this most sacred and precious time, I’ve learned that the only requirements needed to support someone are presence, awareness, and the ability to let go of one’s preconceived notions of life and death. As American spiritual teacher Ram Dass says, “The only preparation for death, it turns out, is the moment-to-moment life process.”
Have a heart
In “How to Boost Organ Donation Without More Donors” (May), Karin Olafson investigates the expansion of technologies that preserve donated organs outside of the human body. She writes that these technologies will help us rely less on presumed consent for organ donation, which presents ethical dilemmas. However, we all have a duty to use our shared health care resources prudently, and this includes organs for transplant. Explicitly not consenting to organ donation is one thing, but many people who fail to opt in to our current donor registry do so either because they can’t be bothered or because they don’t want to face their own mortality. At the point when donating one’s organs becomes relevant, inertia and denial are no longer compelling reasons not to proceed. Emerging technologies are promising, but there is going to be a gap between their invention and their widespread clinical use. That gap is one during which scores, perhaps hundreds, of deaths might be prevented by an opt-out donation program. The ethical imperative, then, is to implement such a program—not to wait.
Salmon Arm, BC