Anyone who has traveled the world, or even just within Canada, will observe that every little town or village has its own churches… cathedrals really. Specifically, in France, Italy and especially Quebec, even small farming villages with very modest houses always had a towering cathedral, some of which took a hundred years to build…Chartres, Notre dame, St Michael’s etc. thousands of them. No matter how poor one was, and was living in the most modest of conditions, the person always had access to the ‘House of God’ which was opulent to the extreme. Great personal sacrifices were expected and were made to build the most magnificent cathedral possible. Money and labour were no object.
Today, most of these cathedrals stand empty or have been turned into high priced condominiums. Like these past cathedrals, and reflecting societies’ current values, buildings of this magnitude are still built but are now called hospitals, and the doctors that man them are the new high priests.
Communities are expected to support hospitals with aggressive funding drives and ongoing charitable giving. Massive personal gifts are made by philanthropists who are then rewarded with their names on the side of the building or a whole ward. There is never too much money for hospitals. The more hospitals there are, and the bigger and the more technologically advanced the better. Thousands of people work in these places in hierarchical systems with doctors at the top of the triangle, very analogous to cardinals, bishops, and priests.
These hospitals are dedicated to treating disease and injuries and to saving human life at any cost. Whereas a century ago people were expected to eventually grow old and die, usually of pneumonia at the ripe old age of 70, today there is no limit to how long a person’s life should be extended. Even if that quality of life is horrible, it must be preserved as long as possible. Up to 10% of hospital beds are occupied by ‘bed blockers’. These are people too sick to discharge but have no chronic support system to go to.
Entire massive industries have been created with varying euphemistic names like Assisted Living Centres, Retirement Homes, Transition Centres, A Place for Mom,
all designed to park people who no longer can take care of themselves. Government owned and run ‘Nursing Homes’ are the last stops in the system with the average ‘tenant’ stay about a year. We have done a great job of extending life, but a lousy job of extending living.
Indeed, our whole system of evaluating life, its normal progression, the role of inevitable disease whether chronic or infectious, and eventually death itself, are no longer subject to a religious or philosophical framework.
The current ‘Covid-19 crisis’ is a perfect example of what happens when politicians and public health bureaucrats take over the system and extend incredible power and influence over peoples’ lives and destinies.
The total number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 in Canada as of this writing is 5302 in a population of 37.6 million representing .014% of the population. This is being compared to the 1918 Spanish Flu which killed 50 million people, mostly young adults.
Of that 5302 Canadians, the majority where residents in some kind of nursing facility or senior citizen environment with existing age-related morbidities of some kind.
Although the technical ‘Cause of Death’ may have been respiratory failure due to Covid-19 many were in a poor state of health to begin with.
The reaction of politicians all over the world, not just in Canada, has been to assume massive powers over the population, lock down society, suspend civil liberties, and throw the world economy into the greatest depression since the ‘Great Depression’ of the 1930s. The consequences on people all over the world is beyond measurement and will result in extreme negative repercussions for decades to come. This is a huge price.
It begs the questions: Was this the right response to this particular event? Will the consequences have been justified by the means? Can society really bring risk to zero? How does society value human life and are there any limits?
These are very difficult questions, but as we move civilization from one dominated by religious power to one dominated by political power, some philosophy will need to be introduced into the equation.