What if?

Upon occasion I like to sit and day-dream about the world being different. I mean if we as Americans had a different way of thinking. What if we never looked to gain anything from anybody? What if the motivating factor for everything we did had to do with the betterment of humanity and not the financial gain of ourselves?

Dr. Jonas Salk was the person credited for the discovery of the cure for polio in 1955. Two years later Dr. Albert Sabin created the oral version. As time went on and the research continued we began to learn more things about polio all in the interest of science and humanity. These two men lived good lives and neither wanted to gain financially from their work. Dr. Salk, when asked who owns the patent for the polio cure said, “the American people own it.” These two vaccines helped remove polio in many different parts of the world. Within the period of 1988 to 2007, the number of cases was trimmed down significantly from 350,000 to 1,652. 

By 1994, polio was completely removed from the Americas. In 2000, it was erased in almost 36 countries within the Western Pacific region including Australia and China. In 2002, Europe became polio-free. By 2008, only four countries remained affected by this disease, namely Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria. Today, the transfer of poliovirus from one person to another has been widely disrupted. However, wild poliovirus transmissions are still very much possible, particularly in areas with poor sanitation as well as low vaccination coverage.

What if this effort was repeated for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and AIDS? What if the pharmaceutical companies were all not for profits and a successful year for them would be to “break even” with their budgets and not make a profit. What if their sole drive and goal was to make themselves obsolete? What if hospitals were all not for profits with the same goal– to educate people to the point that they never needed to be hospitalized? What if as a country, it mattered to us what we ate, how we interacted with the environment and how we treated one another?

You can’t help but wonder if we, working together, would have figured out time travel, gain the ability to move objects or even learned to fly. We would most certainly have worked out starvation and degenerative diseases. We could even eliminate rich and poor people, make education completely free and enjoy world peace.

And then I woke up.