Life, Death, and the Future

Datapoint #1
This year, 2005, will mark a pivotal moment in human history - the year that the global crude death rate will start rising for the first time since the dawn of civilization some 10,000 years ago. The crude death rate measures the number of people per 1,000 population who die in a year. That figure has been falling steadily, from about 40 in pre-agricultural societies to around 8.7 today. It will now start to rise because health practices and infant survival has lead to an aging population, thanks to better nutrition, greater access to medical care, improved sanitation, more widespread immunization, better health education, etc. The UN projects the crude death rate will eventually increase to match the crude birth rate at 11.4 in 2075 with a population of 9.22 billion, and then grow beyond the crude birth rate causing a population decrease.

Datapoint #2

As of this morning, there are 295.735M people in the US, about 4.6% of the 6.427B in the World.
Population Clock: http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html

Combining the two, it's amazing to consider that over 150,000 will die today around the world. That is approx how many died in the recent Asian tsunamis (125,598 confirmed dead, 94,574 people still listed as missing). Every day!

Someday, each one of us will die. Hopefully we'll have made a difference in this world. If we're lucky, we might even be remembered  by a few for a couple generations as someone who provided for and loved their family and friends, who cared for and served their communities, who created opportunities for those around them, who lived by strong principles, who did not hesitate to sacrifice their own plans or leisure to help those in need. I was encouraged to hear Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's President and COO, a brilliant and successful business and industry leader, and father, explain that his kids are his #1 passion in life. Here's a 2 minute audio clip of a recent interview.

Still, even the best of us will be utterly forgotten within a short time. Do you know much of anything about your great-great grandfather? His name, what he did, or even where he is buried? Very few of you I suspect. Unless maybe you go home and look it up in a dusty book somewhere.

Terri Schiavo might be one of the ~150,000 that die today. While most deaths are painful at some level, some deaths seem to impact the global consciousness more than others. And maybe alter our thoughts or even our laws to some degree. But, even Terri will be soon forgotten by almost all of us.

There is one death that stands out among all the rest. Today is Good Friday. Probably the most profound and memorable and impactful death in the history of mankind occurred about 2000 years ago. Even our modern calendar is based on this man's life and death. Our currency contains the year since he lived, and a motto attesting to our national devotion. Jesus was nailed on a Roman cross to die slowly and painfully to appease the public will and the will of God, and even the desire of Jesus. Why was this "Good"? Certainly not because he deserved to die. Certainly not because it was a pleasant or dignified death. We call this Good Friday because of the saving effect his life and death has on us and our hope for tomorrow and beyond. Our great-great-great grandkids will be celebrating his death (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter) this same time of year, and yet will have forgotten we ever existed. If we truly care about our family, and our future generations, we can best serve them by demonstrating our faith in action.

This is a related true story that underscores the importance of setting proper priorities and passions before it is too late...

Pete Maravich is regarded as one of the top five basketball players of all time. After his retirement from basketball, Pete found true happiness in Christ. "He gave his heart to Jesus Christ, and for the next five years, he was on fire for the Lord." Learning of his conversion, Dobson invited him to appear on his radio program in 1988. After the interview, they played a game of pick-up basketball with several others. When the game ended, Dobson turned to Maravich and said, "Pete, you can't give up basketball. This game means too much to you." Maravich explained he had experienced pain in his right shoulder for more than a year, but now it had disappeared. "I feel just great," he said.

Those were his last words. Maravich collapsed on the basketball court, and minutes later, died in Dobson's arms. "Later that day, I sat down with my son Ryan, who was 17 at the time," Dobson said. "I told him that what happened to Pete wasn't an isolated event. This is the human condition. This is all of us. It will happen to me some day. Pete Maravich didn't have an opportunity to speak with his family one last time. But I want to tell you, be there. On resurrection morning, be there. I will be looking for you then. Nothing else matters. Be there."

Two years later, Dobson suffered a heart attack on the same basketball court.

Comments:

Didn't you mean, increase in death rate to meet that of birth rate is good for the planet?

Posted by Mcgill on September 05, 2005 at 01:43 AM EDT #

"Two years later, Dobson suffered a heart attack on the same basketball court." James Dobson died in 1990? Then who is this man pretending to be Dr. James Dobson, quite healthy and still leading Focus on the Family? http://www.family.org/docstudy/aboutdrdobson.cfm

Posted by Stephen Grant on September 05, 2006 at 08:39 AM EDT #

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