Saturday, October 11, 2003

Life and Death

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage So the doctors save someone's life by inflicting even more pain on them? You have to wonder just what is going on in everyone's mind. I live in a country that is remote from the concept that everything has a cure, that life should be safe and risk free, that disease has no place in life. In Egypt, disease is a fact of life. Death is a fact of life, and once someone has died, in most cases, there are no autopsies or post mortems. The body is collected by the family, washed with respect and love, and placed in a resting place within 24 hours. I don't need to know exactly what killed someone, because sooner or later death will inevitably come for me and all those that I love. It is inescapable. All of the interventions in the universe will not change that fact. And now it looks as though some interventions might indeed not be worth the outcome. If I had a choice between dying from pneumonia fairly rapidly or being made a cripple to live in great pain, I'm not sure that I would vote for the cripple.

Then there is the issue of risk of injury. Each time I visit North America I am more horrified by the things that people there believe that they should be protected against. To judge by many of the more ridiculous law suits that receive outcomes favourable to the plaintiff, people now believe that the world should be made idiot-proof. I wonder if this is what killed off the dinosaurs, honestly. The world is not, never was, and never shall be, idiot-proof. Any fool with the tiniest bit of ingenuity can manage to get himself maimed or killed....I mean, what mother in her right mind would tell her daughter that it's a good idea to drive with hot coffee between her legs? I see here the other extreme, I would grant you. Pedestrians routinely step off the sidewalk without a glance, young men ride in microbuses hanging out the door, boys catch rides on streetcars by jumping on to the connecting pin at the back, the list goes on forever. One of my friends when I was growing up in California lost his leg catching a ride on a freight train. His parents lectured him for being a fool and he learned to live without his leg. No one sued the train company for having trains there to tempt idiotic young men into trying to jump aboard.

There are times when my heart leaps to my throat when I see some death-defying act of idiocy. There are times I want to stop parents and shout at them for allowing their roughly 8 year old to stand on the divider between the front seats of a Mercedes with his head out the sun roof. But do I want to have someone telling me who can ride my horses or play with my dogs? No, thank you. I like the fact that Egypt is, in some senses such as in the freedom to be an utter idiot, not a safe country. No one is going to knowingly harm you here, but you had best keep your wits about you even walking down the street or it is entirely possible that you could do something quite stupid and get killed as a result. I think that on the whole Darwin might have approved.