Reading this article on life expectancy got me thinking about a conversation I often had with a friend who attended the occasional neighbourhood dinner party and rarely ate much because he was vegan.
As we learned to cook and accommodate myriad allergies, health conditions and philosophies, his regimen adapted to the point where he still couldn’t partake in the bounty because he shifted into raw food and much of the food was cooked. Even salad was verboten because there was something in salad dressing that was objectionable. Was it the vinegar? I can’t remember.
We don’t see him as much because our daughters don’t hang out together these days, different schools and diverging interests changed their (and our) orbit.
He does not have any nice things to say about humanity and its impact on the world. The earth would be better off without humans in it, was his position. While I don’t practice his dietary philosophy (but admire its cruelty-free goals), I was a weak defender of our species because I didn’t completely disagree with him. Want to screw up a place or circumstance? I often joke. Just add people.
Modern medicine and technology inflate our number and amplify our impact. There are too many of us, the thinking goes. Others point out that it’s a consumption issue, not a population issue. But if there are too many, where do we prune? Choose one of your own to lose and it’s a whole different issue.
I am so grateful for advances in medicine. As that article above points out, breakthroughs in public health and medical care have doubled our life expectancy. If it weren’t for those advances there would be far fewer of my family that’s for damn sure.
Childbirth could have exacted a heavy toll from my mother and sister, potentially, ending their lives and leaving me a brother and another sister short.
If my husband had survived his childhood asthma attacks, his heart problems at 37 would have done him in
This accounting doesn’t include the swath of destruction that tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria and other diseases would have cut through society if it were not for vaccination.
While modernity brings new scourges, such as motor vehicle accidents and obesity-related disease, the human toll exacted by now-preventable and treatable disease and infection was much higher. A technologically-advanced war machine enables people to kill more people faster, but fewer people die today from violence than ever before.
Thank you modern science and medicine for giving me more time with the people I love! These are the advantages of not only time, but of place as well. There are so many others living in insecure places where medical care is a dream. Instead of just counting my blessings, I’ll pass some along and donate to Doctors Without Borders. Hint, hint.