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

From The National Post, “You’re alive, but you’d rather be dead: People worldwide living longer, but sicklier lives due to chronic diseases”

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?


6 responses to “Life and Longevity in the Global Village”

  1. LittleBigMan says :

    There’s a great deal of wisdom in this article and the links provided. The medical industry in America for sure isn’t about ‘cure’ as much it is for ‘treatment’. It’s essential to find consciencious doctors. There are very many greedy, if not also sadistic, doctors out there.

    As far as the food is concerned, as much as possible, I try to be the waiter to this customer we call ‘the body’. If the body wants donuts, it will get donuts. If it wants pizza, it will get pizza. That being the spirit, I often pay attention to what it’s asking me to feed it, and the body always wants the good stuff: the fruit and the organic fresh vegetables and the delicious fish and chicken pieces. It, for example, no longer asks me for milk, and I serve it no more milk 🙂

    • LittleBigMan says :

      “It, for example, no longer asks me for milk, and I serve it no more milk”

      I should add to that…I serve it no more milk regardless of how much the media commercials or academic studies tell me that I should drink it for calcium. In my opinion, it’s clear that neither the media nor the food industry care about my daily intake of calcium.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    I was just at the post office, where it was very crowded. While waiting in line I started browsing through the postcard rack and I found a bithday card that said the following on the outside and on the inside:

    On the outside, the card said: “GOOD NEWS: People are living longer”

    On the inside, the card said: “BAD NEWS: We don’t get to choose which people”

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