The Afterlives

I wrote this on my phone on 31Oct20, 5 days after having triple-bypass surgery, and a couple days after I formulated the thought but didn’t have a chance to write it down on anywhere.

If there’s an afterlife, it is the extension of life we gain in the modern era, via the increasing ability of the human species to manipulate its environment and save individuals who would have died young in an earlier era.

And all of the children of those people, the ones those people had, who had not otherwise died in infancy or childhood.

Now back home, 2nov20, expanding on this a bit.

On the first point, every time a person doesn’t die in some circumstances where he might easily might, the result is an “afterlife” in the sense of the extension of that life.

When I was 13, I had a ruptured appendix. I spent two weeks in the hospital. I survived. Having a similar malady a century before would likely have ended that life, right then. For me, surviving, everything since is an afterlife.

When I was in my 40s, I think it was, I left a movie theater in Santa Monica about 10pm on a weeknight to drive home. Approaching the on-ramp to the 405 freeway, following another car through a green-light intersection, I narrowly avoided being t-boned by a car running the red light from the left. Instead that car clipped the car ahead of me, spinning it around, and I avoided calamity by half a second.

Everything since: another afterlife.

And now at age 65, a typical age I gather for such an event, I’ve suffered a heart attack and gone through triple-bypass surgery to correct for it. I had been having symptoms for several weeks, but they would go away in a minute or two. This time, on Sunday morning at 6.15am on 25Oct, I decided to head to the ER instead. The initial doctor who did a catheter probe said, It’s worse than we thought it might be, but you’re still alive, you’re not at home dying of a heart attack. You did the right thing.

Had I waited a bit longer, I might have lay at home and died of a heart attack. (As some SF writer reportedly did just a couple days later.) And so now, a new afterlife.


On the second point….. the history of our species has been a burgeoning self-awareness of ourselves and our environment. While the trend has been gradual and erratic, most people live better lives, and longer lives, than people did thousands of years ago, hundreds of years ago, even one hundred years ago. (Note the Hans Rosling book I wrote up here a few months back.) The consequence of this is not only that more people are living longer, healthier lives, they are also bringing into existence children who otherwise would never have existed at all, millions and billions of them. The numbers in this direction, I suspect, vastly overwhelm the numbers of potential births those opponents of abortion are so preoccupied with. A world that accepts science and modern medicine, and allows women to make their own reproduction choices, is a richer, healthier one, than the world which rejects those options.

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