Thursday, November 26, 2015

It's Time To Be Thankful Again - A Short Rant

So, it's been another year since Thanksgiving. This time last year I was recovering from surgery and having to work from home. That episode involved two operations and two nights in the hospital, and totaled nearly 40 thousand dollars. It was $7,000 per night just to stay in the hospital. The hospital was decent but the food was absolutely horrible. Can you believe it costs that much to stay at the hospital per night? It's outrageous.

Thankfully though, I had health insurance, and good health insurance at that. I only ended up paying $500 out of pocket for the whole thing. Had I needed surgery a few years earlier when I was unemployed and without insurance, I would have been financially fucked. So this has made me appreciate what I've got and its always good to set aside a time of the year to remind us of this. I have a good job that is low stress, pays good, and provides me good health insurance. I'm a middle class person living in a first world country. Right there I have it better than 90 percent of the world's population. I live in the best city in the world. I have good friends. My family relationships are mostly good. I have my health (thanks to my insurance). And I have a new girlfriend and things are going well (so far). Right now my life is pretty good. I don't really have anything that's causing me tremendous stress. Things aren't perfect of course. I have problems here and there, but overall things are pretty good.

And this is mostly due to pure luck. I'm simply lucky that I was born with a healthy body and a healthy brain, into a secular middle class family in a first world country where I enjoy levels of freedom billions of people are not afforded. I got dealt a good hand. I lucked out in the genetic lottery. That's the reality of my situation. I'm just luckier than most other people in many ways. But with that luck I plan to make this world a better place so that other people can be just as lucky as me. That way, a greater number of people in the future will win this genetic lottery. If anything we should always thank the people who've made the pleasures in our lives possible. I thank them mostly.

I am optimistic that the world will get better. We no doubt have problems—climate change, income inequality, terrorism, war — plenty of stuff. Religion is declining in the West and I'm happy about that. We're going to have problems with the Islamic world for generations to come unfortunately, but I think the Islamic world will eventually liberalize and secularize. It won't be easy. Technology is going to improve all of our lives. Diseases will be eradicated by genetic manipulation. We've not even begun to reap the rewards of our ability to manipulate DNA and realize its potential. This is going to utterly change our ability to combat disease and make nature work for us. We can't pray for change, we must be active agents in making the world a better place — at least in the sense of making it a point to not cause any unnecessary suffering. If we all were negative utilitarians in this sense, the happiness and well being of the world would go up tremendously. That's one of the reasons why I had to give up eating meat.

This will also be my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian. It will be interesting, but I like mash potatoes and stuffing enough to call it a meal.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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