Living: Can It Be a Bad Thing?

According to this article from Slate, some people think so:

“Would you like to live forever? Probably not. According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, most Americans don’t want to stick around much longer than current life expectancy. Sixty percent don’t want to live past 90. Thirty percent don’t want to live past 80. People who make lots of money don’t want longer lives any more than the rest of us do. Nor do people who think there’s no afterlife.

What’s driving our misgivings? Much of it is uncertainty about what kind of lives we’d be living. Would medical progress keep us feeling young? Or would it only stretch out our declining years?”

It seems that most of the trepidation around life extension comes from the fear that it will only prolong the suffering of aging. Living to 120 as a healthy person would be nice, but it’s more likely that you’ll face significant health issues as you continue to age.

However, I think view this misses a key aspect of life extension. What we are trying to do is more than just drag out a painful death. Rather, life extension about prolonging health as well as life. Right now there is ongoing research on how to slow down the process of aging and to fight off diseases faster and less painfully than ever before. The only downside is that some of these treatments are many years away, too late for many of today’s seniors.

But even considering the ravages of time as inevitable, I don’t think that there are many seniors who are thinking “I hope I die today.” They may understand that they won’t live forever and that given their age their time they might not have a lot of time left, but they don’t want it to happen now. So while they may say that they don’t want to live to be 120, but if you ask them on their deathbed at age 119 you might get a different answer.

Death is fine when it is far away, but very  few people welcome it when it comes.


One thought on “Living: Can It Be a Bad Thing?

  1. “Death is fine when it is far away, but very few people welcome it when it comes.” This is exactly how human minds are set at the moment. This is very unfortunate, because if people understood that life extension means not dying today or tomorrow, not being sick, but being healthy and productive all the time, I think there would be more attention paid to longevity research.

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