Two value systems to say yes to progress
Antibiotics making everyday life much safer:
Humans are no longer falling victim to the diseases that once ravaged the whole of humanity. People can go outside and risk playing around and getting cuts and scrapes with little fear of succumbing to an incurable bacterial disease. A century ago this wouldn’t have been the case and untreated infections could quickly grow out of hand. The greatest example of this is the treatment of bacterial STI’s with antibiotics. Before antibiotics, STI’s were painful and deadly, as there was nothing to treat them with.
Antibiotics revolutionizing the practice of medicine:
Even though many people think of antibiotics as medicine to be used when coming down with some kind of infection, their uses extend far beyond that of over-the-counter medicine. Before antibiotics, surgery had as much chance of killing someone as it did saving them. The reason for this wasn’t entirely due to the methods of the times, however, as a successful surgery would often end in a later death due to infection. An open wound was an immense risk during these times, but an open cavity due to surgery was a breeding ground for bacteria. In modern times, this risk can be eliminated by courses of antibiotics after surgery.
Two value systems to say no to progress
The widespread use of antibiotics has greatly accelerated the evolution of once insignificant bacterias. The antibiotics that could be used to combat these certain bacterial infections no longer have the same effect. This is happening for more and more strains of bacteria, and we are running out of useable antibiotics that are on par with stronger strains of bacteria we have inadvertently created.
Are antibiotics too effective?
The role of antibiotics is to kill the harmful bacteria invading the body, but many times it will target bacteria we do not want to eradicate. This beneficial bacteria is primarily concentrated in our stomach and intestines and its role is to produce vitamins and promote a stronger immune system. However, by overusing antibiotics and killing off this bacteria, we risk upsetting the delicate balance by allowing other organisms within our gut to thrive. Too much bodily interference via antibiotics can upset the various balances our bodies have taken years to cultivate naturally.
Antibiotics in general life and overuse
While it is certainly true that antibiotics have made the human race stronger as a whole, one of the biggest issues regarding this technology is the overuse and lessened effectiveness of future antibiotics. Humanity has come to use antibiotics as a crutch against various bacterial disease and as a result, our immune systems will most likely be unable to combat the supercharged versions of bacterial diseases we have been suppressing. While calling this event “Doomsday” is a bit of a hyperbole, the health issues that many people could face will present a gigantic strain on our society and economy as a whole. It is easy to look at antibiotics now and say that the pros definitely outweigh the cons, but one day the pros will no longer exist. Just like the various organisms living in our body, the best way to proceed is to strike a balance between antibiotic use and not exposing bacteria to antibiotics.
What I am excited about
It’s amazing to think about how antibiotics single handedly helped humans become the most resilient creatures on Earth. At the time of its discovery, antibiotics wiped out almost every bacterial infection that had been previously deemed untreatable. It’s easy to look at antibiotics and be unimpressed, but those little pills have saved countless lives over the past century. These days antibiotics have lost their “all conquering” status, but advancements in science have allowed us to research newer, more powerful antibiotics so that we may combat stronger bacterial strains. This technology may one day lead to the discovery of the ultimate antibacterial medicine, so that we may never have to worry about infection again.