I don’t believe any nation — even one as great as the United States — should ever rest on its laurels. For this reason, I shout from the rooftops about the changes that I believe we need to make as a country, particularly when it comes improving our healthcare system. I believe that is the duty of every citizen.
If you read this blog regularly, you know my story. I am suspicious of the motives and actions of large pharmaceutical companies. I am concerned that our government is not doing enough to protect us from corporate influence that leads to unsafe drugs being OKed by the government, skyrocketing prices for brand-name medications, and a lack of competition among drug companies both domestically and internationally. I believe these are critical problems that must be addressed.
But as I sit here in my office looking out on a beautiful Texas afternoon, I’m reminded that it’s so important to remember our blessings as a society. I’m reminded, specifically, how important it is to acknowledge the advancements of science and medicine — including, yes, those of pharmaceutical companies — that have made life easier (and longer) than it was for previous generations.
In fact, if you factor in all the risks we’ve faced over the years, American families probably live in the safest period in our history.
Violent crime is low — much lower than it was in the ’70s, for example. Infant mortality is low, people are living longer, and though we certainly need to fix our healthcare system to build upon these gains, it’s important to acknowledge them.
As an advice column I read in the Washington Post today tells a grandmother frustrated with her daughter-in-law’s constant worrying:
You seldom see any small, new headstones in the cemetery anymore, because most children are healthy enough to grow up and grow old. However, if you told your daughter-in-law that antibiotics and vaccines had doubled life expectancy in the past 100 years, she would still be anxious.
Being anxious doesn’t help anybody. Be grateful. And be determined to seek the changes that will ensure continued progress.156