Essential vs Disposable

A debate with multiple dimensions

I was just listening to a conversation between Naomi Klein and Arundhati Roy, and I heard this word combination, essential & disposable. When I checked the site for opposites, some of the antonyms for essential are inessential, dispensable, and disposable.

Some of the self-help videos during the pandemic period spoke of this dynamic between essential and inessential. We were encouraged to stick to the essentials (persons and things) and forget about the dispensable. There is a good intention in that and it has a lot of sense.

But a few questions might help to look a little deeper…

  • What are the essentials of my life? (Whether that changed understanding of my essentials affected the life of someone negatively?)
  • What are the essentials of my family? (A maid who was essential became a dispensable reality on the day of the start of lockdown???)
  • What are the essentials of my city? (Do the workers who did all the so-called menial jobs became non-essential realities? Sanitation workers were still important, but many of the construction workers, plumbers, electricians, and innumerable others)
  • What are the essentials of capitalism and urbanization? (We brought many people to the cities for the work of industries and urban centers, but you are no more essential)
  • What and who are the essentials of the country? (Industries and economy?? People?? Ecology?? Religion?? Or all these in a dynamic relationship??)

Probably the most interesting anomaly happened with the health-care workers. They are “officially” essential workers in the country. But some are inessential in their own housing complexes. They are inessential when we think of giving appropriate protection equipments.

The extremity is when inessential/dispensable becomes disposable.

Do the question of essentials of my life, human enough to include the care of others too??

And I think, the question and responses shouldn’t be limited to COVID-19 season.

P.S Some might feel I have exaggerated a little… I don’t really think so. If that is true also, some zooming-in is occasionally good.



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arun simon

arun simon

A Jesuit with all the crazyness… Loves Jesus…Loves church, but loves to challenge too… Loves post modern philosophy & Gilles Deleuze.. Loves deep conversations…