“Three hours ago, this man was in the battle. Two hours ago we operated on him.
He’s got a 50/50 chance. We win some, we lose some. That’s what it’s all about.
No promises. No guaranteed survival. No saints in surgical garb. Our willingness,
our experience, our technique are not enough. Guns and bombs and antipersonnel
mines have more power to take life than to preserve it. Not a very happy ending for
a movie. But then no war is a movie.”
There was a time – not that long ago – when nearly every young man and even a lot of your women – would have come face to face with what mortality really meant. It used to be said that young people still think they are immortal and indestructible. This generally changed by the time you were 30 or so and quite often sooner. Even if you did not see any combat action in the military or even if you did not even serve in the military for some reason, you had experienced what it meant. Unlike today where old people or terminally ill people would die in a nursing home or hospice, they generally died at home with family members around.
You knew personally at least one person who died in a war or from some accident or child hood disease. I did. I also faced my mortality and non- indestructibility in a major motor scooter accident when I was 18. Which put me in the hospital for 6 weeks. I knew people who were killed in Vietnam. Families who lost people in Korea and WWII. A kid in my class who died from reye’s syndrome. Of course at that time, the 1950s, no one knew what it was or what caused it.
In short we learned that life is temporary. Even though nobody can really imagine their own deaths. When we try, we always still exist in the third person. This may explain the beliefs in a hear after that many religions have. We also learned that life is hard work as well even if few grew up on farms or ranches since even everyday chores still required some physical labor. Until after WWII even the very rich knew of personal tragedies as they were as likely to loose a child or loved one from disease or injury as their money could not buy a cure or prevention as none existed. The bank president or stock broker was just as likely to fall dead of a heart attack or stroke or loose a child as the laborer. Maybe more so. And this temporariness was what helped bring us together.
In the past couple of decades though our advancing technology in medicine and other areas have enabled us to live our lives in a bubble. Where we have come to believe that suffering and even death itself can be put off almost indefinitely. That all you need is enough money and you can live a very long, worry free, labor free life. Not having to be concerned for your own personal well being and certainly not for the well being of others. Not only that, but even the medical profession itself is peddling this snake oil idea. Just run 5 miles each day and eat an organic vegan diet and you too can live a very long life. Well as long as you can pay us too.
But it ain’t like that at all. So we hide old age away and death becomes an inconvenience that when it’s about to occur, is drugged and sedated. And physical labor is something that is to be avoided and only for the great unwashed. I wonder…have we become that repulsed by our humanity that we are willing to treat it so lightly and with disregard ?