I was reading Rinkly Rimes’ piece on Chance and it started a train of thought. As usual, my trains run on tracks of their own, without much forward planning, so if my words offend in any way, please forgive me.
‘Survival of the fittest’ is a phrase that’s been bandied about for generations but what does it mean in an age when most ills at least can be accommodated if they cannot be cured? Childhood illnesses like measles and whooping cough used to take their toll and those who survived might be left with serious conditions. They still affect children in the developing world. Diptheria is almost unheard of in the western world. Before immunisation was introduced it was one of the leading causes of deaths in children. (Both my parents were hospitalised with diphtheria, around 1910.) Similarly, tuberculosis and polio were dangerous, frightening diseases, as they still are in poorer parts of the world, though there has been a resurgence of tuberculosis in recent years in UK.
As we fight back against infections, developing vaccines to prevent and medicines to cure, different afflictions become visible. They may have been present already, masked by more urgent disorders, never able to come to the fore. We will never be able to cure all ills for as each new infection is defeated so further previously unrecognised disorders emerge.
There is no cure for life – it is a terminal condition, however fit we may be.