Friday, March 30, 2007

Are We Too Safe?

My father grew up during the depression, on a subsistence farm. His family lost two young children from illness. Adults regularly failed to live to old age. As my mom said, "If you got sick, you probably died." Those were the days before antibiotics, before antivirals, before cancer cures. Food was scarce, jobs were scarce and life was hard.

My father recently made the interesting observation that people of his era are not as scared - of everything - as younger generations are. His generation is not scared to live for fear of dying. He specifically mentioned worries about optimizing diet and exercise and extreme fears for children. Why shouldn't little Johnny climb that tall tree or run in the road? Sure, he might fall or get nailed by a car. It happens. It is an interesting attitude.

Those of us who expect, really expect, to live to be one hundred years old, and to be free of pain, mobile and healthy the entire time, have a different outlook. We do worry about our safety. We do feel a need to take care of ourselves. We increase the investment that we make in our bodies because we expect to rely on that investment later. What price do we pay for that expectation?

I never saw a wild thing
Sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead
From a bough
Without ever having felt sorry for itself.
— D. H. Lawrence

No comments:

Post a Comment