We need to be ok with the fact that humans die. It’s a key part of being alive and there is a point at which trying to delay death becomes cruel, painful and unjustifiable.
I’m very much in favour of preventing disease, preventing accidents and enabling people to live peacefully and well. I’d like to see far more investment in both research and education to support health and wellbeing.
I feel strongly that anyone who is alive should have the right to a decent amount of life in as good a state of health as possible. In reality, your quality of life and healthcare will most likely have everything to do with your economic wealth. So when we’re talking about interventions that ‘save’ lives we’re often talking about extending the lives of privileged people who already have better than average life expectancies. Unhoused people have far lower life expectancies than housed people in the same societies but this seldom comes up around conversations about saving lives.
I don’t have any definitive answers here, not least because I think what’s really needed is to ask questions. We need to each ask ourselves about the lives and deaths we want for ourselves and for other people.
How long do we expect to live? For much of human history, life expectancy was about thirty.
What conditions are we prepared to live in? We may not know the answer to that until we get into difficulty, but we should keep asking anyway.
Why do we treat some lives as disposable, yet are willing to go to great lengths to keep other people alive for as long as possible?
In what circumstances would we consider death a kindness?
How do we feel about life before death? How do we consider or contribute to quality of life for those around us and those we impact on?