Do you want to live forever? Scientists are working on drugs that will delay the effects of ageing. This article reports how both the negative effects of ageing like Alzheimers are looking to be cured, as well as getting old itself.
My job is to stand things on their head, so I’m going to be the party pooper here. Don’t get me wrong, the fact that I have enjoyed a relatively healthy life up to this point and that I have all my teeth if not all my hair, is down to the fact that I have been part of the wealthiest clan of people (per capita) ever to walk the earth. I’ll probably not only live longer than my grandfather, but I’ll probably enjoy good health and be physically fit longer than him. Most of us look forward to living well into our eighties, and that has to be a good thing.
However, while delaying death might be good, is it good to pretend death will never happen at all? What kind of fool pretends he’s going to be thirty forever? Yet we see old movie stars with baggy arms and turkey necks who have incongruously tight faces (and other things) We see that old lecher Hugh Hefner–who must have had his face lifted with a crane. He’s still cavorting around in his bathrobe and a pipe pretending to be the Playboy he never really was in the first place. Yuucch. Is that nauseating or what?
Furthermore, the scientist who wants us to live forever is predicting that all this extra time will eventually make us bored and we’ll decide to kill ourselves. In other words life might be longer, but maybe it will simply extend the misery for some people. The grumpy old guys will be grumpy for longer. The nagging, gossipy and miserable women will have even longer to share their misery. The selfish, egotistical, immature and tyrannical will simply have longer to be their awful selves.
So really, the whole, hugely expensive campaign to extend life is morally neutral. Long life is good because life is intrinsically good, but a life is not a good life simply because a person isn’t dead. The real quality of life is a moral quality. As I age I don’t want to just be an old man, I want to be a good old man. I want to enjoy life–the joys and the sorrows–the agony and the ecstacy. I want to laugh and love and stay active and do stuff…and every now and again I guess I want to be a little bit grumpy too.