“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 ?


10 thoughts on “Temporary

  1. I cannot believe they stood there and watched him drown, just to avoid lawsuits. How utterly sad and disgusting. Thanks for bringing this to light, C.

    1. cmaukonen

      I could not believe that. And I still can remember the kid who died to. He lived in a trailer park and one of the other kid’s on the bus said “Did you hear ? ….. died of chicken pox on the brain.”

      Having just gotten over the chicken pox myself, it sounded very bad and scary.

      And I also remember another kid in my class who we were playing with during recess and got very ill all of a sudden.

      The next day his brother said he was in the hospital and this was a major big deal at that time because you did not get sent to the hospital unless you were about to kick off.

      After a few days they found out what was wrong and he had to be operated on. Was back in class in a few weeks. But the whole indecent was pretty scary to us. His brother would give a report each day to the whole class.

      No counselors or psychologists back then. Just each other and the teacher and our families.

  2. This happens to have been a more visible instance of a seemingly crazy policy. We in fact have a very formalized policy this way. It’s just not quite as visible to the American public as this was. In the global scheme of things we allow this to happen every day. And not just in the US. This is true across the entire social realm. Not a day goes by where people die, in large groups or individually, for no reason other than nobody made an effort to prevent it. There is also the flip side where this very thing, people dying, is intentionally pursued.

    However crazy this arrangement appears, we’re fine with it as long as it isn’t us on the wrong end of the deal. Only then do we understand that it’s personal.

  3. Horribly bizarre!

    Remember that case where a building was burning and the fire department refused to respond because some insurance/tax was not paid?

    And Santorum is proselytizing again on some Ayn Rand rant that Medicare and Medicaid and unemployment insurance is making us a ‘weak’ nation.

    Too bad you have that cancerous lesion or that VD or that…

    We shall just watch you die. But your death was not meaningless for now your case shall be an example to other low-lifes that they better shape up.

    And I am sure those people in the link did not give one damn about being sued…each and every one of them was more worried about losing their jobs.

    That fear of loss is what Rick Santorum lies as the basis for making our country strong.

    You all better shape up cause if and when you fall from grace, THERE AINT GONNA BE NO NET!

    1. No Net. That is unless you happen to be of a certain class. Then and only then the system will never let you down. A CEO, a member of congress or a president, (Bush / Cheney) can fuck up huge but their sorry ass is covered no matter what.

      We have a system where if you are in the right position you can be a complete and utter failure and not have it make a bit of difference. There are tens of thousands of important positions like this in the US. A lot of them are held by complete idiots. Thinking of it statistically, it’s probably half.

      1. cmaukonen

        Repeating a comment I made a Dag.

        I think where I am going is this – that what is referred to as the Tea Party right is not so much as some political movement as it is a reaction or blow back to well intentioned but badly handled progressive legislation that these people see as infringing on their personal freedoms.

        The shared experiences of the past is what enabled the hard working labor force and the upper class highly educated to have some respect and tolerance for each other.

        I was going to make this a separate blog and may do so in the future. But what I see and this map shows, is a reaction from the smaller burgs rather than the bigger metro areas.


        The left tends to focus on the racial and economic aspects of it when those are just a part. The more complete view, in my not so humble opinion, is that they see government over-reach or big brotherism. This reaction has just come to a head but has been brewing for a while.

        What is interesting is that I know I have read that when asked individually about civil rights, gays, drugs, taxing the rich, tobacco use, guns etc. they will have fairly progressive views. Where they disagree is that they do not feel it’s any of the governments damn business telling them what (if anything) they personally should do about it.  That if they wish to go to a bar that does not serve gays and have a drink and a smoke, that’s their business – not Washington’s.  And they blame the liberal establishment for this.

        Rand Paul was I think one of the few who was honest about this when he was campaigning. 

        My 90 year old mother is quite fond of say that “The road to hell is paved by good intentions.” For me I seed this is oft true.  You simply cannot force people either through legislation or belittlement to change their beliefs or behavior. They will at least simply give you the finger and do it anyway or get really pissed and force it back the way it was.

        Labor unions have been hobbled and demonized, and people who want to work at jobs requiring physical labor are seen as nothing more than mules.  It’s a dangerous new world.

        Yes it is and those mules just might kick you in the head if you are not very careful.

        Just some observations on my part.

        1. There is an element to this which isn’t commented upon a whole lot and which blows the conservative and tea party argument out of the water. People complain about government overreach but it’s been promoted by financial interests for the purpose of enhancing profits as much as for other reasons. Singularly pointing a finger at liberal government policies is a false devisement. In every instance of overreach there is a financial angle at work. Bet on it.

            1. Precisely what I was thinking. It’s grown increasingly true with no let up in sight. I daresay liberal government policies are only nominally responsible for the recession. I lean more to financial policy promoted by Wall Street and banking as the major culprits. Our regulatory agencies have been corrupted by greed and a thoroughly broken system of campaign finance.

  4. cmaukonen

    This all seems to be a more common occurrence with the more people around. Like the paramedics that walked right buy a guy who was in sever distress on the sidewalk because they were off duty.

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