Who wants to live forever?

Sep 9, 2021 by

The social care crisis can’t be fixed with more money. By Giles Fraser, unherd:

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, life expectancy in the West has risen roughly three months per year. In 1900, a new-born child in the US would, on average, live to 47. Now it is about 79; by the end of the century, it will be 100.

Some will call this progress — in sanitation, diet, medicine — as if more is always better. But the cost of this “progress” is rarely factored in.

£12 billion every year is the latest pledge to fix health and social care, mostly for the elderly. But what are we doing with all these extra years?

[…] there is no way of solving the social care crisis in purely economic terms. Because one cannot address a metaphysical question through economic policy. Indeed, the very basic question of what human life is for is one that politicians, still less economists, no longer feel they have any use for.

The first stage to recover a basic metaphysical scaffolding would be to reclaim something of that story in which death has some sort of wider significance, rather than being viewed as just some anticlimactic end. Because if having more — going on longer — is the meaning of life in a secular society, then death is inevitably and always some sort of failure. Whereas we would once have said of the dead that they have passed into glory, we now hear the medics apologise that “there was nothing that we could do”. Death was once — potentially, at least — an expression of some ultimate triumph. Now it is the bitter failure of our technology. And whatever we spend on it, no amount of money will overcome this gap.

Read here

Editor’s note – this is great’ pre-evangelism’ from Giles, asking the right question – but most of the comments below the article don’t take the hint, and think he is advocating euthanasia rather than going back to a solution found in the Christian gospel.

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