Life and Longevity in the Global Village
Some time ago, I caused a controversy in the pages of the former Dark Age Blog by suggesting that increases in life expectancy had very little to do with improvements in human well-being or the quality of life, but were basically nothing more than a technological and artificial prolongation of the dying process.
Well, a recently released study of human global health now seems to have corroborated that impression. We are not living longer so much as dying longer. What has been confused is the quality of life with the mere quantity of it.
Here are the headlines (and links) to a few articles on the research study.
From The Calgary Herald, “We’re living longer, but sicker: Study finds life expectancy rising, but so is disability”.
From The Guardian, which also has a very impressive interactive illustration of the study’s findings. “How do people die? Global mortality and causes of death visualised” along with commentary, “Life expectancy around the world shows dramatic rise, study finds”
From the CBC, “People living longer, but sickness increasing worldwide”
There is a great, and even tragic, irony to all this, of course — that “progress”, as such, has not been so much a progress in human well-being, but in prolonging a state of unwell-being, and even achieved at the expense of general human well-being. The irony of this kind of progress is that the prolongation of life by 11 or 12 years has been achieved only by prolonging the process of dying.
It’s a prime example, it seems, of the utter confusion in our time of quantity and quality, in terms of longevity and life. And with the attendant absurd situation in which the already dead have to petition the state to be allowed to die really.
So, perhaps we should be less concerned with the artificial prolongation of life by prolonging our sickness-unto-death, than with discovering the sources of true well-being and of a life well-lived.
A lesson for our “cyborgians” about the real meaning of “transhuman”, perhaps?
Whatever happened to our sense for the ironic?