Today I watched a show called “the hospital” here in Sweden. It is about a real life ER and how they function and there was this cancer patient. The nurse or the doctor, can’t remember which, said “you have a cruel disease, so therefore we need to send these cruel meds in to you”.
And this patient, hanging between life and death could do nothing but agree, both the cure and the disease were equally cruel. The fear of death in his eyes and it got me thinking, 100 years ago, a common cold would have brought the same kind of fear. Now, this cold of mine is not enough reason to write farewell notes to my loved ones.
Back in the days, let’s say 1790, average framers had to marry when they were 16, have loads of children by 25 and watch 70 % of them die from a disease that in 2009 are cured with a few days of rest and penicillin. We had to rush through our lives, living to reproduce and leave a mark.
What we had maximum of 45 years on us to do, we now have 85. Is it better? It is up to each individual to decide. I for one think that time is valuable, that the society we live in today has the potential to be great. That we invest more effort in to a world we actually live long enough to see changes in and enjoy the changes (or curse them).
Time finds another meaning, 45 years was a lifetime. Was that lifetime filled with a rush of memories. Does time feel the same? Do countries that still live under those conditions and have life expectancy set at 45 have the same chance to form a society and enjoy it?
For an average butterfly, a day is a life time. If we could change their structure and let them live for a 100 days, what would happen, would anything happen at all. Would they like do us just proposing life, marry at 35 and just have 3 children and make sure they survive.
Could it be so that if we gave them 99 extra days, they would spend less time looking for ways to reproduce and start building networks. Their survival would be stretched, they would have to start competing for resources and maybe overthrow other species. They might build structured societies like ants and bees or even us. Or maybe nothing would happen, we would just get to enjoy their existence for longer and neither perception of time nor their way of living would change, they would just have 99 days to do what they have always done, be butterflies.
I don’t know much about butterflies, so don’t be mad butterfly lovers, it’s a thought experiment. I am fully aware that butterflies come in loads of functional variations and life expectancies.
So, with a little penicillin and food in our fridge, we have managed to give ourselves a second lifetime. Is our somewhat advanced society a result of this, we could never know.
And now new medicines arrive, and life expectancy increases (if we make sure to take care of ourselves). What will the prolonging bring us now? Will it bring anything new, will perception change? Only time can tell.