Turns out we’re not going to live as long as we thought we would. Life expectancy in Australia is on the way down. Death expectancy on the other hand…
The promise – nay the assertion – a few decades ago that we would soon all live happily and healthily to one hundred, is probably not going to happen.
With the vanishing of eternal life from the social imaginary, our best hope become as long a life as possible, with a smoothly manufactured exit strategy. 70 was the new 40. 80 the new 50.
Turns out 70 might be the new eighty.
Research shows we’re in for a decline, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics predicting a shorter lifespan for Aussies, off the back of some disturbing trends such as obesity high youth suicide and an increase in car crash deaths (this despite the advances in safety. Turns out the safer the car, the higher the risk taking).
Some of which goes to show that if choice and opportunity were all there were to it, we’d be kicking goals. But there’s something about meaning and purpose that means a long life looks like hell to some people.
Seems like being part of a wealthy country can only take you so far, 86 for a woman, and 83 for a man. Turns out lifestyle – the holy grail of the West – is turning against us, what with all that cardio-vascular disease etc. 2010 was peak-year when it comes to decline in cardio-vascular disease in Australia. Take a bow busy lifestyles, and rich foods.
Here’s how the ABS table puts it:
Of course, that’s still pretty good! Given the high infant mortality rate in Third World and developing countries, there’s a good chance you’ll get a bit more life than most people in history.
Of course the quality of life is the issue, isn’t it? And having watched my dad fall into dementia in his late sixties and die by aged 74, it’s clear that a long life in a locked ward, demented out of your brain, isn’t the dream being sold to the Baby Boomers. But it’s happening. We can keep you alive – but that’s about it.
Increased life expectancy used to be a right. It’s actually a privilege. And it’s one we used to take for granted.
Just a few months out from 52 years of age I tend to think about mortality all of the time. But that’s probably as a Christian it’s because I’m aware that I have less time to redeem in this present age than I once had. The sweet burden is not simply to live long, but to live well in the ethical sense.
And, of course, the longer I live the more I realise that Jesus might just not come back before I die. And then there’s all that ageing, never mind the fact that at 42 I was told I had six months to live (turns out they got that wrong!). The existential fact of death has always been with me. Perhaps that’s the writer in me. It’s certainly the Christian in me!
And I’m also sitting on a plane about to take off for Sydney and how does this thing even hang up there in the air (no Googlebores please). And I ran a half marathon yesterday, but I can’t run away from this thing forever!
Which just makes it all the more stunning when Jesus says that the one who trusts his words will never see death. Eternal life expectancy leaves life expectancy for dead.