Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Word of Thanks

I want to take this opportunity to thank the men and women who had the courage to inquire, to explore in the face of dogmatic orthodoxy requirements intended to enforce stultifying mentalities.

(1) Several years ago, I had surgery to remove a blockage of my urinary tract. What I thought was a minor annoyance turned out, according to the medical specialists, to be a real and immediate threat of catastrophic renal failure - a fatal conclusion. I was in surgery within 24 hours. The anesthesiologist was excellent. I suffered absolutely no pain during or after the surgery - the joys of explorations into consciousness states and chemical effects thereon. The problem was efficiently and effectively dealt with with such minor inconvenience, I barely even thought of the import of what had just happened. It is easy to overlook the measures taken to protect me from infection, and the purposeful, coordinated actions of each professional who took part in the procedure.

(2) Within two more years, I developed pneumonia. It turned out the cause was bacterial. I was prescribed some antibiotics and within two weeks, the pneumonia had cleared. I was back in near perfect health again. The lethal trauma of pneumonia in human history is a matter of record. Imagine - two weeks and a few pills to deal with a condition that only a generation or two ago was a frequent killer. Today, we say "pneumonia" and it has about as much emotional impact on us as saying "sniffles."

(3) In 2007, I suffered a massive staph aureus infection of blood, bladder and prostate. At the same time I was also diagnosed with diabetes - a truly wonderful combination. It took a bit of effort, but the hospital was able to beat the infection, and I now live on a steady, subcutaneous diet of synthesized insulin (Humalog) injections. Thank you, Dr. Banting.

That's three times I owe my life to modern, science-based medicine.

There was a time, and it was not nearly so long ago as many might think, that any of these three problems would have killed me and all that could have been offered to me would have been some kissing of beads, and/or shaking of rattles, mutterings of incantations to aloof and uncaring supernatural forces and beings. People who called themselves "kind" would have tried to make me feel better about, and accept, dying in the name of some ridiculous fluff and nonsense.

Fortunately for me there were people before me who had the courage and insight to try to understand human medical problems and resolved to develop effective means to deal with them. They determined that they were going to slough off the kinds of thinking that condemned us to the whims of fate. Beads and rattles were obviously not working, and feeling good about dying was a ridiculous and inhumane way of thinking, however soothing-appearing the noises made seemed to be. Humanity needed and deserved something better than surrender.

The science that developed the knowledge base and procedures to save my life is a means (a method), but the decision to choose efficacy over helplessness is a philosophical choice.

Why post this at this time? There are those who would advocate moving back to beads and rattles, who advocate resigning to destiny and returning to being helplessly blown along on the winds of fate. These throwbacks to a darker, crueler, dismal time wield such things as prophesy and purely internal realms as weapons to try to convince us to surrender our efficacy. Their hatred of humanity has them gleefully anticipating the wholesale slaughter of all of humanity in the name of a catastrophically horrific ideal. It is a mindset we must always guard against, one that took us a very long time to overcome. It offers us nothing, even if there was any reason whatsoever to accept any of it as true.

Fortunately, we have another tool - a philosophical one - that can help protect us against superstition spreaders, helplessness purveyors, and dogmatic doomsayers. It is skepticism, that simple determination to eschew certainty and Truth, to always reserve acceptance as conditional and subject to change; to always provide that essential room for growth and development. And, above all, the courage to explore.

So, I offer this small post as thanks to all the people who had the courage to move beyond helplessness, to inquire, to advance the subject matter. To those people who had the courage to look the fanatics in the eye and say their way was not good enough. To those who had the insight to cast off the shackles of stagnation and eternal recapitulation and choose methods that empower us. To those who made the decision to look beyond the insides of their own minds to become more capable of forging a better future. To those who cared enough to decide a better tomorrow was more important than dead-end thinking. To those who did not just, metaphorically, lie down and die, as some would have us do.

I owe my life at least thrice over to efficacy-based thinking. To my last breath I will thank those who gave me more breath to thank them with.