Is it Moral to Artificially Extend Life?
Do you believe that we can live to 200, 500 or even 1000 years? It may seem crazy, but there some researchers who think that we can extend life to such an extent. I wonder if these same researchers believe in the “hot” topic at the moment; climate change or global warming? At the same time that these scientists are espousing the idea that we can live much longer, they back cutting back on CO2 emissions. Can you see the contradiction?
The Journal Science predicts that there is a high probability that the earth’s population will reach 11 billion people by the year 2100—a mere 85 years away. Is it moral to extend life beyond its natural progression and add to the cost of dealing with even more aged care? How many more people can Planet Earth handle? What about the one billion people who live without the use of electricity? Are we compounding the effects of overpopulation and the stretching of resources by trying to increase the life span out to hundreds of years? It’s an important question to answer.
Is Aging a Disease?
Many scientists think of aging as one of the many diseases that we need to treat. Of course, how do you treat most diseases? You take a pill or potion. This is just what we need, more drugs for an already over-medicated society. Some of us still believe, however, that aging is part of natural processes at work. While we don’t know how far we can extend our lives, it would be prudent to continue it with lifestyle changes; diet, exercise, mental attitude and creating a purpose for ourselves.
The scientists—while well intentioned—are attempting to alter our genes chemically because there is some evidence that mutations in individual genes may be related to the aging process. The answer would be to introduce a chemical via a pill to extend life. How many more pills do we want in our lives?
Aging is part of the life cycle. We have birth, growth, maturation and then death. The cycle occurs in the plant and animal world. It even happens with planets and stars. All things eventually wear out. It’s called the Law of Entropy. We go from a highly organized to one of disorganization. You probably feel that way some days.
Is There a Common Denominator to Aging?
I’ve often wondered how some people do all the “right” things and yet they are afflicted by serious ailments while others disobey the principles of good health and manage to live a long and productive life.
Dr.Nir Barzilai of the Albert Einstein Medical Centre studied a group of 300 people who were 100-year-olds. He asked them some lifestyle questions and here is what he found:
- Some of them smoked
- None was a vegetarian
- None exercised
- A third were overweight
- None ate yogurt (it is thought to enhance longevity)
The only thing they had in common was a family history of longevity. So apparently having a long life is in our genes. Choose your parents and grandparents carefully. However, before you jump to the conclusion that there is no point in leading a healthy lifestyle, appreciate that many of the individuals were not, in fact, healthy. Some had illnesses and in some cases were even bedridden.
Aging and Death is an Evolutionary Requirement
It’s been said that 95% of the species that have ever existed are now extinct. They have been replaced by more highly evolved life forms. If you have grandchildren, look at how bright they are. I am amazed at what four, five and six-year-olds know today both regarding language skills and using devices such as pads. Of course, they have so much more available to them because society is evolving—though some question in what direction.
We oldies have to die off so that we can allow generations behind us to grow and develop. If our lives have influence and impact, then we have left a legacy for our offspring upon which they can build.
So how does all of this apply to you? While you don’t know exactly how many years you have, make the most of what you do have. It’s important to look after your physical state (diet and exercise) and mental health so you can live your years to the fullest. Research is also showing that healthy lifestyles can influence our genes that can have a direct effect on longevity. It’s not so much how many years you have, but the life in your years. Life ought to be a brightly shining light that ultimately flickers once or twice as it burns itself out.
Editor’s Notes: Dr Adele Thomas, semi-retired medical doctor, and Dr Ely Lazar, retired chiropractor, are on a new mission as the Passionate Retirees. They are dedicated to inspiring the over 50s to live fulfilling and adventurous lives, so that “the twilight years will be the highlight years”. Their book, “Travel Secrets For Seniors” was released in early 2014. With more than 80 years combined of professional experience, their articles, books and workshops cover a range of topics from travel, health, relationships, sexuality and finances for seniors.
“Adele and Ely have always impressed me with their exceptional knowledge, professionalism and positive attitude. Mention their name and the one word that always comes up is respect.” – John Ross, Master Networker