All things fall apart. Time is one of the few remaining equalizers amongst the world; as it breaks down even the strongest of materials, returning them one piece at time to the state from which they began, wearing and eroding them with the aid of the world it governs in such a way that eventually only the most basic materials remain. Humanity is no different, and in some ways is no better than the world upon which the species resides. The only remaining boon left to humanity is the dignity to know when to die, and to die well. Humans are not meant to last past their natural cycle of which the species is a part.
There are objections to this belief of course, as there will always be more than one side to any given issue. To some aging is akin to a disease, as is death, and it is hubris that allows these attitudes to persist, as well as other various, more personal reasons that may or may not affect the beliefs that strengthen such a course. Extending the life of a human being is at this point possible only for short bursts, and is not yet an actual scientific fact beyond the few years that are granted. Immortality, or something akin to it, is still beyond the grasp of modern science, at least for now.
The question of what one would do if allowed to live “forever” is one that many have pondered throughout the ages, and a question that few have ever given a definitive and realistic answer to. This then begs the question of why so many people cannot hope to answer such a simple question, and an answer that is widely viewed by many as the wisest and most conservative reply. Humans were not meant to live forever, therefore the simple idea of living past the normal lifespan is one that many cannot fully grasp. To be born, live, and eventually die is what humans look at as a normal life. Immortality, a trait best left to legends and myths, is not
yet a question that any would dare ask, or even contemplate for very long.
Added to that is the question of availability and affordability. Given the state of medical expenses in this day and age, who is to say what living forever might actually cost? What might the procedures, measures, or other various methods used to prolong the life of a human being go for? There is little doubt that such costs might at first be astronomical, as any new cutting edge technology is highly dependent upon supply and demand just as it is upon approval. To think that those who are able to pay for their continued longevity is a slight to human dignity in that it simply repeats the same overall statement that many would argue today: the rich count and the poor do not.
Were such technology to exist it would be highly debated as to who received a chance to live a longer, more full life. So many people are taken “before their time” that it stands to reason that overreaching the issue at hand would soon enough become a commonplace occurrence. Longer lives would lead to the justification that the life was not long enough, that not enough was accomplished, and perhaps even that continued longevity would soon enough go to the highest bidder rather than the most deserving of such a dubious gift. In other words, the supposed prize of long life is more akin to a delicious-looking fruit that is pure poison within, just waiting to eat away at those who consume it until all that was once good and reasonable fades away.
That is of course over-simplifying the issue. Not only would measures need to be taken to insure that longer lives were the result of such technology, but it would need to become a choice as well as a legally mandated option to lengthen the life of another. The question of how many who are in the twilight of their lives might wish for several more years or simply go on their way to their natural end would become a hotly debated issue, as would the arguments
concerning those who could benefit from such a “cure” to the “disease” that old age is described as being. Many still believe that the act of living and dying is a natural human trait, and one that is better left alone than manipulated. It is a natural course of humanity, a failsafe built into the species to prevent not only overcrowding and even a depletion of resources, but to preserve the dignity of the species.
Human mortality is an important part of the species, a sometimes unfortunate aspect of life that is especially built in for many reasons that have been discussed in countless theological and philosophical discussions. Sonnets, epic poems, literature, films, and songs have been written about this subject, touching upon the idea of being immortal both in a metaphorical and literal sense. Yet few have ever really touched upon the issues at hand that come with such inherent longevity, the hidden and expressly unrenowned fact of having to watch those who will not drink from the fountain of eternal youth pass on, as many would still choose to live a mortal life and forego the chance to see another century, or even millennia come about.
A lifetime of memory and more, a chance to see what might become of the world in the coming centuries, and of course, the chance to do it all over again, and again, and again. It seems too good to be true, and is a very arguable point, but it is also not meant to be. There might be those that would claim that immortality is essentially a way to keep our brightest and best around for far longer to do much, much more than they might have had to accomplish. But the flip side of this is that perhaps they’d done all they could do, perhaps they were done, and had prepared to move on towards the end. What then if those same individuals were allowed to continue living? Is there anything to say that they would have gone on to bigger and better things, to enrich the world anew? This is a debate for a different time, but one that can be used to draw several telling conclusions to the same tale.
Something else to consider are the attitudes of those who have already passed on and what they brought to the world. Would those who were born in a bygone age, if still alive, have changed their ways and their attitudes in accordance with the changing times? This is a question that cannot be rightly answered, but given the social changes that have occurred throughout the past several decades it is reasonable enough to believe that those who caused such change in the world might very well have continued to do so and in the process have created a very different landscape than that which exists now. Had figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, or even John Lennon been alive now, there is little to say that their actions and beliefs would not have affected the world as it currently stands.
This continues on to the speculation of how well the human mind and body continues to function after a certain age. Time takes many things as it continues to roll on, stripping everything it can from the world in an attempt to keep the entirety of reality moving along in order to renew, reuse, and possibly recycle, but what it takes from human beings is something that cannot be replaced, and something that even immortality could not hope to fully restore. Human beings eventually grow old, and in doing so begin to lose control of faculties that in youth are typically quite sharp and agile, but in the golden years and beyond can begin to slip and even fade away entirely. Immortality at such a point might be a wonder to extend the lifespan, but without the mental or physical faculties that allow one to truly enjoy the life they wish for, the prospect of living forever is quite dim.
Human beings are often portrayed in fantasy movies featuring immortal races as short-lived and even pathetic at times. But there are also those films that tell of the fleeting lives of humans and how they are far more beautiful, more meaningful, because the human race has such limited time upon this world in which to accomplish so much. That is what makes the race of
mankind so valuable, that the struggles that are faced and overcome are done so in what amounts to less than the blink of an eye in the cosmic sense. Immortality is lackadaisical, it allows for time to do most anything, and thus there is no hurry to enjoy each breath, to strive for goals that might take years, and to do something significant that might be remembered. Mortality remains the great motivator.
A flame that burns for too long begins to burn out, just as a human that lives forever, or for longer than is due a human lifetime, becomes stale, stagnant, and without purpose.
Given a thousand years many individuals would likely agree that eventually there would be little left to do, little left to experience that had not been seen or done already. This is a highly
subjective argument of course, but one that is still in large part related to the dignity of humanity. Flames that burn the brightest tend to burn the quickest, as is the case with human beings, who are upon the earth for decades and perhaps even a century in the case of some, but an insignificant amount of time to the life of a world. Yet for all that, the mark that humanity seeks to leave upon the world is one that is far more endearing when it is realized that it has taken generations to leave behind such a legacy, countless mortal lives to make a lasting impression that will span across the ages.
Yet another implication lies with the application to law, one that is not often considered but is an interesting sidebar regardless. Considering that immortality could very well be a reality for which humanity now strives, consider the fact that those who attain such a thing are human beings just like anyone, and can get in trouble just as easily. What then if an inmate who has received this miracle of longevity is locked away, living off of countless generations of taxpayers if given a life sentence without parole? It is a far reach from the truth, but one aspect that is not often considered.
Crime itself would likely change as those looking at sentences that are not for life would see it as a mere pittance when considering how long they will live regardless. Violent offenders would likely continue to act as they already do, but without any real fear of incarceration as has been experienced in the past. Without the need to worry about dying in one’s sleep it is likely that fear of a violent death would become far more prevalent given that immortality offers none of the quiet, dignified passing that might otherwise be experienced as a mortal. If an individual is not killed by another, they will likely not survive whatever natural calamities that are repeatedly voiced by experts from year to year. Immortality is simply mortality without the natural presence of death near its end, and does not assure immunity to harm.
Nearly every facet of humanity would find the need to change in the face of immortality and its real-life applications, not the least of which would be the laws that govern the land. The act of living forever would change the entire landscape of humanity, forcing new laws to be set into effect, old laws to be rewritten and reviewed, and new precedents to be set in accordance with the new advancement of humanity. This in turn would also bring forth more and more debate about the inherent nature of immortality, how it is a crime against God, religion, and mankind’s continued hubris in action. There would be protests likely, and religious figures and their detractors would raise large campaigns against one another to either justify or vilify the act of becoming immortal.
Also, taking into account the fact of immortality, the workforce would change
significantly, as without the need to worry over dying for so long it would almost
eliminate retirement needs, thereby insuring that workers who did manage to obtain this
“cure” would in their current position for a much longer time. There would be no hurry
to advance, nor would there be any real motivation left to finally reach the fabled golden
years in order to enjoy what remains of a person’s life. The mere fact that one could live
forever is a damaging attitude that could very well destroy the whole of humanity, forcing the entire race to re-evaluate its worth and how it might be divided into different classes yet again.
The issue of immortality and the process of aging are matters of which humans have debated over for decades, and have fantasized over for much, much longer. To live forever, or to live for extended periods of time that are unparalleled in human history, are enticing questions that researchers and scientists alike would desire to hypothesize and run extensive tests to finally reach a conclusion. Yet for all that, the dignity of human kind is rarely given any more than a passing glance, a mere pittance in the face of what should and should not be done. There is value in the preservation of life, and of prolonging the lives of those who might actually make a difference to humanity. But the cost of such a thing might very well be the sense of humanity that has been cultivated over untold generations.
To some the idea of humanity is an ethereal and uncertain thing, as it is not easily measured and is far more intrinsic to the species. Many would see it as more of a philosophical aspect of a species that considers itself greater than the sum of their parts, and thereby a fantastical theory that carries little to no real weight in the scientific fields that might seek to apply very real formulas and ideas towards the acquisition of eternal life. If such a thing is true then the act of morality and the knowledge of right and wrong are reduced to little more than action and consequence without the knowledge of why it should or should not be done.
If there is no morality there is no dignity, and if there is no dignity in life then there is biological anarchy. In such a world the rich would live forever and the poor would die in droves, thereby creating new lines between social classes. In this world it is likely that human life would come to mean very little. With their knowledge of the mortal state humans retain their dignity.