My father passed away not long ago. He had a number of medical problems but thankfully he lived to old age, lived to see his grandchildren, and to leave a lasting impression on many, especially me.
But in the late 1980s he suffered a heart attack in his early 50s. I remember the day vividly. I was in my late teens and was worried sick about what would happened to him.
My Father Saved by Modernity
The following few days brought me tremendous confidence, gratitude and awe at the marvels of our modern day medical system. My father would eventually have a cardiovascular bypass surgery. That was not easy but he after a period of healing, he was able to return to being back to his old self again. I felt so fortunate to live in the era that we live in. I was interested in medicine from a young age but this experience strengthened my resolve to go into the medical field.
My experience is not unique. Many others have similar stories to tell about their own family members and friends. I know they too marvel at the miracle that is our medical system. They too are thankful that they live in the current era instead of an era when having even a relatively simple to treat disease could be a death sentence. And yet, today, having practiced medicine for several years and observed how society functions, I see things far differently than when I was a young kid.
But Modernity Caused the Problem
Today, when I reflect back on the heart attack my father suffered, instead of marvelling at the miracle of modern medicine, I think how tragic. Instead of being in awe of the advancements that medicine in the modern era had to offer us, I think why? While I am still grateful of all we have access to in the modern era, I think how we could have been far better off. That is, instead of thinking how the medical system saved my father’s life, I think about how our collective excessive consumption led to my father to having a heart attack in the first place.
Mindless Consumerism is Deadly
Coronary atherosclerosis or clogged up heart vessels that cause heart attacks are almost entirely a modern day disease. Our ancestors who ate natural (not highly processed) foods and were physically active rarely experienced this disease which is common today.
Far from celebrating the achievements of modern medicine and being glad to live in the modern era, today, I realize that my father should have never had a heart attack in the first place. Yes, medicine has advanced to solve complicated health matters, but many of those complicated health matters shouldn’t have existed in the first place.
We Can Take All the Good without the Bad
So, am I saying we should all be hunter gatherers? Far from it. I’m only saying that we could have taken all of the good of modern life (democracy, food sufficiency, education, music, security, entertainment, sports, etc) without also taking the bad. It did not have to be this way and it certainly still does not. It’s not too late for change.
Help me to spread this message of hope. I believe any individual can opt of of the toxic confluence of factors that lead us collectively to disease and even planetary disasters. I need your help. We need policies in place to effect large scale change. To enact policies we’ll need millions of people on board. You can help so many others by spreading this message. Talk to your kids, neighbors, friends, and anyone you can potentially influence.
BOTTOM LINE: THERE IS A BETTER WAY!
- As John Maynard Keynes said a century ago, people of our time ought to be largely independent of our employers for our income – unfortunately, due to “mindless consumerism”, we are not.
- Mindless consumerism is the underlying reason leading to the rise of chronic disease for 3 major reasons:
- It ties us to dependence on our employers and modern day employment is a health hazard for most (in part due to the sedentary nature of most jobs).
- It has led to environmental changes toxic to our wellbeing:
- (a). We evolved in and are best suited to natural environments and instead we live in increasingly artificial environments.
- (b). Overconsumption has lead us to engineer out the need for meaningful use of our legs for ambulation.
- Finally, it transforms workers to work with blinders on – instead of working for the product or service and receiving money as a side effect, workers focus on making money and the product or service is instead the side effect. The results (with respect to health) is that “food” is no longer food but changed to maximize pleasure and extract profit in spite of the toxicity to our health.
- Based on the science of wellbeing one can derive the philosophy that once basic needs are met, “The best things in life are free” therefore —>
- Most people can live far below their means without sacrificing happiness AND by investing the rest, they can become financially independent of their employers enabling them to be —>
- Happier. Healthier. Wealthier. More engaged. Simply better.