We have been too comfortable with life.
Humanity grew more peaceful in the last century. The formation of United Nations reduces war on a larger scale, and “most people” live in peace thereafter. Medicine and Therapy discoveries via scientific methods -- as opposed to traditional methods like bloodletting -- allows for longer life expectancy. And comparing today to the previous century, as we slowly perfected procedures, an average person lives more peaceful than before.
At least that’s what seen from the surface.
What does an average American eats today? Or perhaps, what does most people around the world eats today? Unhealthy foods, unhealthy beverages, chemical products. We are overdependent on medicine for our health than exercises and healthy routines. If we catch a disease (including obesity), we could go to the hospital or pharmacy, and take a prescription as countermeasure against our unhealthy routines. The invention of medicines allow modern humans to depend on medicines for longer life expectancy than healthy routines. They are welcome to demolish their body, then gets repaired via medicines, and demolish again, enjoying the “happiness” and addiction that unhealthy foods and beverages brings. We could choose to ignore our health conditions, at least when we’re still young, as medicine backed us up.
And for farmers? Chemical fertilizers ensures succulent-looking vegetables; insecticides allow beautiful-looking leaves with no worm-eaten holes. These chemical products contributes to our health problems, slowly poisoning our bodies as we eat more and more of these products. Organic vegetables free from chemical fertilizers and insecticides are rare nowadays, given how people prefers to buy beautiful-looking products unconsciously despite that’s the result of insecticides. Most probably you’d grow it yourself, if you want insecticide-free and chemical-free. We don’t have these in the past.
And people walk and work around. There’s no mobile phones for people of the past to scroll through social media and emails and feeds. There’s no TV to watch either: it’s not yet invented. Board games are available, though. And people tends to play by running around or helping their parents out. Humans aren’t design to sit around. Perhaps standing around to communicate, and walking from one location to another occupies more of their time than nowadays. And there are sites encouraging you to walk for better health and better mood.
From one’s experience, sitting around too long means back ache, difficulty in breathing, and laziness.
In fact, life expectancy isn’t longer than what we expect compared to our ancestors. There have healthier routines but worse medicines and treatments. We have better medicines and treatments but worse routines. The plus and minus generally cancels out. At least, these are for people whom manages to live to their end of life peacefully. In the past, with the lack of medicines and treatment, people working overtime or over their limit tends to aggregate internal injuries that are non-treatable, at least they aren’t capable to. As internal injuries aggregates, life expectancy falls. Moreover, in times of war, we couldn’t expect them to have high life expectancy: anyone could die anytime, and lack of clean food, clean water, and clean shelter contributes to shorter life expectancy.
Even nowadays, 3.1 million children die from undernutrition every year, according to a research by UNICEF in 2018. About 1320 children die from malaria every day. And these has occur even pre-Covid; but it’s not reported every day in the news? Nope. Covid is worth reporting in the news because it affect us; and the news target audiences are mostly the richer; at least the top 15% or more. And hunger are far forgotten by the rich. The rich and the poor has been separated; so when we look around, or deliberately look around us, it’s mostly rich enough. Even communication on the internet is dominated by the rich; the poor has other worries that the rich don’t.
Without specific attention on the subject, we live in an illusion that life everywhere are as good as where we lives. Or perhaps, we deliberately ignore those that are none of our businesses.
And there are so much money that the rich enjoys the luxury of food, eating whatever they want, whenever they want. Even more, by forgetting there are people whom are hungry, we allow ourselves to waste food by throwing them away when we couldn’t finish them. Furthermore, we changed our mantra from eat to live to live to eat, enjoying the satisfaction when something is stuffed into our mouth. As we get tired with a certain food, we’re welcome to change food, change flavor, and change ingredients.
Food are no longer just to fill hunger: they’re also filling insatiable satisfaction.
And we forgot about when smallpox constantly strikes back before it’s complete eradication around 1980. Smallpox used to be a dangerous disease without vaccine. It kills about 3 of 10 people infected by it. We celebrated the eradication of the disease that haunt us for centuries. The problem is, success leads to further success. If you are successful one time, you can be successful again in the future. And it’s quite true before Covid exist: AIDS comes up; but we suppress it on time. H1N1 comes up, and we still get its prevention vaccination not long after. Ebola comes, and we suppress it on time. Actually, Ebola exist for quite a long time, but it doesn’t lead to epidemic until around 2014-2016, so vaccine development wasn’t as quick before the Epidemic.
Read more on success lead to success on “Smartcuts” book.
Technology is not the main barrier.
The main barrier for vaccine development is Return on Investment (ROI) for those investing in the development of the vaccine. If the virus didn’t affect enough people; especially if the virus didn’t kill enough people, there might not be many people willing to buy the vaccine, and those investing in its vaccination might not earn enough before the copyrights ended. In one part, we are treating human life in exchange for money. We want to see how strong is the virus, whether it kills enough for us to invest before investing. Without a strong enough virus like Covid, we never know how this attitude brings. And with a strong enough virus like Covid, our attitude is fatal, until the virus becomes uncontrollable.
And it’s not just vaccination.
Even if we have unlimited funds for vaccine, it still needs some time to develop. The first and foremost is quarantining those infected from those not infected. But quarantine is a difficult process: it involves emotional burdence. When you’re quarantined, usually communication with friends and families are reduced. If you’re lucky, they might go and find you physically (with safety protection). If you’re more lucky than average, you get calls from friends and families, and you could still communicate. The worse is if you didn’t invest in familyship and friendship that you’re in complete seclusion when quarantining. It’s okay if you don’t care about emotions; but if you do, just that you are “too busy” from investing in relationships, you can imagine how it feels. Without infected people cooperating, and authorities refuse to force people to cooperate unless required, plus an underestimation on how deadly and contagious the virus is, leads to widespread.
Our comfort let us forget how bad things are in the past.
We wrongly interpret our successes, thinking we’ll still continue to be lucky and successful down the road of evolution. Alas, look at the situation nowadays. Covid is still not eradicated, continuing to mutate to a stronger strain, perhaps always a step ahead of vaccine development. Mother nature creates all kinds of life we don’t understand yet, and we thought we can handle all of them?
We’re too proud of our successes. Proud breeds arrogance.
And war: war has never stop. Perhaps we might have heard war happening in Middle Eastern countries or other states. It doesn’t matter, as long as it doesn’t affect us, we continue on with life, none of our business. Islamic State? Other countries will send them to ashes with bombs. It’s as if we thought only certain countries would wage war, because majority of normal people don’t like war, hence other countries won’t wage war. But don’t forget, the end-of-the-world weapons, nuclear bomb (or perhaps some stronger weapons that aren’t shown in the news) are control within the few countries. Even today, there are thousands of nuclear warheads, especially held in US and Russia. These are reported numbers though; the actual numbers could be higher; and other countries may not have reported their nuclear weapons. We don’t know.
War could happen anytime.
Just because we live in a peaceful environment nowadays doesn’t guarantee we’ll be peaceful forever. Of course, people don’t simply wage war because it’s not worth it. War not only cause most people to lost their homes, etc. War also needs money, food, etc to back it up. Soldiers also die if a war happens. If people could live in peace, why wage physical war?
Albeit, some people have a love to war, including oneself. Nowadays, these are easy to solve: we have video games like Call of Duty etc that could soothe our urge for war without the need to kill. And for other reasons? There are reported reasons on why Russia invade Ukraine, but what actually do political leaders think, we don’t know. These are just reported reasons. And imagine some enemies that holds dangerous weapons and thought war is a gift from God. War could happen anytime, anywhere. While UN tries to prevent World War III from happening, it doesn’t mean small wars won’t happen. It could happen far from us, but it could also happen to us next.
Don’t be numbed by your comfort. Anything could happen anytime.
And do we remember when Mandela or Gandhi parry against racism in their countries, when the government was racist? A lot happened in the last two centuries, people fight for different cause. Our peace lays on top of their successes. Still, there are problems that still exists. There will be problem that we never seen that will come into existence. A problem is to be solved; but that doesn’t mean no new problems will come up; and it doesn’t mean new problems could be solve that quickly.
After all, the problems we faced before like slavery and racism exist for quite a long time before its solved in the previous two centuries; what makes us think that new problems that doesn’t exist until this century could be solve that quickly, or even ignored?
And let’s talk about pre-Covid period, where there are no significant disease, no significant war yet. And we think that we could live to an old age? What says those that dies from accidents? Accidents happens anytime, we see them in news, these are reported. Some reports are common, like car accidents. Others are less common, perhaps lost forever when swimming in the sea one day during a beach party. These data remind us every day; but we hear it too often that we’re numb to it. We thought, that it would happen to anybody except us. We thought we are always lucky. Sorry, that’s not true. It could happen to anybody: including you and me. Who knows if one could see the sun the next day?
So let’s us appreciate what we have nowadays and live a life where, if we are to die tomorrow, we have no regrets.
What we have in possession nowadays may be lost the next day. It doesn’t have to be lost to war; it could be lost to thievery, to burglary. Let us appreciate that we possess our possession nowadays, and remember that we don’t hold these forever: they may be lost anytime.
Let us appreciate our friends nowadays. That we know, perhaps we might have a fight the next day, and our friend might not want to talk to us forever (or at least for the next few decades). Or most often, let us appreciate our friends nowadays, as we don’t know whether they would use the lame “I’m too busy with work” + “I work all day, including weekends” excuse, and before we know it, we haven’t seen them for 30 years (20 years old use the excuse until they retire, so that’s about 30-40 years). Plus we don’t know if anyone of us would die anytime before the 30-40 years finish; so let us appreciate that we spend our time with our friends nowadays, as if this is the last time we’ll see them in our lives every time we part ways.
Let us appreciate our parents. We don’t know when they’ll part away, when they’ll be too old. Before we regret, appreciate what we could do for them nowadays. Treat them like how you want your children to treat you when you’re in their position in the future.
Blindly hoping for the world to get better is the worse thing we can do.
The world doesn’t belong to anyone. It belongs to everyone. Everyone has a responsibility to make the world a better place. It isn’t some large organizations, including the governments, that define how the world will go. After all, these organizations consist of normal humans like us. That’s why we have voting system to decide how things will work. While large organizations and world organizations are responsible for how top-tier things gets better, we normal people are responsible for the normal things around us to get better. We form groups and get together to make things better around us daily.
The worse thing we could do to contribute is blaming others when things aren’t as we expected them to.
Even small things matter. Consider, what alternatives can you do under restrictions? One loves to meet friends face to face; but with Covid, that isn’t possible. Can we do video meet instead? Certainly, there are people whom aren’t comfortable with video/voice meet; but these are adaptations. Adaptations are how species thrives. If we don’t adapt, blindly hoping for situations to get better, we’re doomed. Till today, almost 3 years since Covid first exist, it’s still not completely eradicated. If we choose not to call, we might not have talk to each other for 3 years!
And these not only apply for social interactions. Try to think of what problems you’d used covid (or some external circumstances that we couldn’t control) as an excuse; and list them down. How many of these do we refuse to find alternatives because we don’t feel comfortable to?
It’s been too long from a peaceful age that we thought, ever since the last century, things will be okay. It does. Keeping an optimistic mind does keep us moving forward. But being optimistic itself isn’t enough. We should also be vigilant, and not let ourselves be too comfortable with current situations for too long. We shall always prepare for worse case scenarios, then we won’t be shocked when it happens, irregardless of how unlikely the situation gonna happen.
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