The World Health Organisation's stats on this show massive changes between the longevity of people and the pathology that kills them.
Due to our endless advances in pharmaceutical and surgical intervention, we are sustaining a massive population. This of course points only to how good we are getting at propping up our otherwise failing health. The real 'health' question of course is how long we would be living without any intervention - a very different figure - one repeatedly revealed using the relatively healthy, affluent and conscious participants on our retreats.
The answer is always the same - almost none of us would be here to tell the tale.
If our health care were working in the right direction, we would need less hospitals, less doctors and less medicines every year, but not only do we need more each year, we are too busy celebrating it to notice the irony !
Digging our own Graves
The chart below compares the fatal conditions of those from 1950 to 2000.
Notice the plummeting of infectious diseases (hurray), and rise of chronic (I would say dietary) deaths (boooo) - rarely revealed in our celebration of medical advances.
I heard a quote from a top surgeon in the US, that despite there being a 30% possibility that you'll die of cancer, and an equally scary 30% chance of you dying of heart disease, what we don't get told is that almost all of the autopsies performed on cancer victims are seen to have massively furred arteries and strained hearts, and guess what, the heart failures are all seen to have asymptomatic cancers too.
So in reality, it is not a case of which you are likely to die from...
It's more a matter of which one gets you first !
But the situation has changed again in the last 20 years, especially if we take into account all the deaths across the world - not just the medical story.
The WHO's figures tell us that In 2012, about 56 million people died throughout the world,
and it breaks down like this...
- 120,000 were killed by war
- 500,000 were victims of crime (including all terrorism)
- 800,000 committed suicide
- 1.1 million of high blood pressure related conditions
- 1.3 million in car accidents
- 1.5 million of diabetes (see previous posts on that here)
- 1.5 million of diarrhoea (unsafe water - that no other animal has a problem drinking !)
- 1.5 million though HIV & AIDS
- 1.5 million died of diabetes
- 3.1 million - lung infections (pneumonia, tuberculosis, influenza, bronchitis)
- 3.2 million - bronchitis or emphysema (air pollution)
- 6.7 million from strokes
- 7.4 million of heart disease
- 8.2 million dies of cancer in all its forms
The bolded entries are of made up primarily of richer nations.
The italicised are of the poorer populations.
Dying of Food
Thus we can see, that the privileged populations of the developed nations are no longer dealing significantly with war and crime, or water-born diseases, or mass air pollution, but are still managing to die in striking numbers - from their own diets... diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer, the top killers today, all being diet related.
So, what do you want to die of ?
We cannot avoid death - even more so than taxes.
But we can have some say in what we want to die of.
More importantly, our choices along the way will go some way to determine the quality of our life, and out death.
I've never striven for longevity - given the possibility of being flattened by a bus at any moment !!!
But I have always headed for ease of life. Not just through diet and mentality, but through an ongoing search for integration and expression of emotion, being deliberate with my thoughts, my words and my actions. Choosing a life full of ease above all else.
I am a very lucky, privileged and resourced individual - the relative safety of my childhood, my teachers along the way, the gifts & talents and opportunities I have been afforded.
It is appreciation of these assets that makes things simple, keeps me compassionate towards others, and reminds me to be grateful at every opportunity.
I struggle to stay afloat in the face of the world's bigger stories, the ongoing environmental disaster, the continuing petrol-party and the cross-culture disregard for what our grandchildren might have left to inherit, plus my own insecurities, contractions, and business shortcomings.
But I know that everyone, starting with myself, are doing the absolute best we can with the internal resources we have available to us.
And so, I start, as often as I can, in gratitude for being the most privileged of the most privileged of the most privileged people alive.
And as you're reading this on an insanely complex, connected device, the product of millions of geniuses and their incremental inventions, so you must be pretty privileged too ;-)