I’ve received this e-mail a dozen times, or more. Headlined “How Did We Survive??” it’s a tribute to the generation that, alas, I’m a part of, those “born between 1930 and 1979.” This anonymous exercise in nostalgia brags about simpler times when there was far less emphasis on health and safety.
“We survived being born to mothers who smoked and drank while pregnant,” it crows, almost proud, going on to glory in various risky practices from not wearing seat belts to drinking from a garden hose.
“We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, [no] locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes,” it continues, “we had baseball caps not helmets on our heads.” These lucky, blessed generations grew up “before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good.” Needless to say, those last four words are sarcastic.
I hate to spoil the fun. But for some reason, seeing the e-mail this time, I sighed and pulled the stats. An American born in 1930 had, on average, a life expectancy of 59.7 years. An American born today has a life expectancy of 78 years. Eighteen extra years of life. Quite a lot, really. I’d say enough to make up for the hassle of bicycle helmets and seat belts, a small price to pay to be alive, even if it means sometimes having to listen to older folks grump about how great it was to ride in the back of a pickup truck. It wasn’t.
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