Martin van der Kroon
The U.S. Transhumanist Party is, among many other things, concerned with life extension, health, and in general the well-being of people. If life extension can be stretched to virtual immortality, that would be even more amazing, but should it be mandatory?
This post is my personal view, and I have proposed a Plank regarding this which has been added to the Exposure Period for Platform Vote #5. I’m not trying to convince people, but I would like to open the discussion on a topic that we may reasonably call controversial.
The idea of immortality is a powerful and ancient one, and I too would be tempted to take the opportunity to become immortal, or live far beyond the scope of what we now consider “normal”. Not everyone shares this ideal though, and I think that is their right to not want this.
Who doesn’t want to live forever?
That is an interesting, but maybe also a bit of a naive question. I can imagine that some religious people, might at some point, even if they have enjoyed a longer life, wish to join the creator they believe in. Is it our place to deny them the chance to meet their God, regardless of whether this entity exists or not?
However, let us set religious aspects aside. Perhaps over the course of a very long life, one might have accomplished everything he or she wanted to do, seen everything there is to see, read, studied, written books, and so forth. What if a perpetual boredom sets in? Perhaps closer to home, we have all experienced things that are unpleasant, and some of those may be traumas. Perhaps carrying several lifetimes of traumas could give someone a sense that it is time to rest.
I’m quite confident that there will be amazing things to see and do in the future, and that our skills and expertise in supporting people in any way we can, including with regard to mental health issues, will become much better. In the end it boils down to one’s personal freedom to have agency over themselves, as long as they do not hurt others in the process.
The loss of a loved one does in fact hurt, often a lot. The grief can be devastating, and no one ought to suffer this pain. The question here is: Is it acceptable to take someone’s agency away to spare others from having to grieve?
Currently we concern ourselves with death penalties, and ‘life-in-prison’ sentences, but likewise, ‘imprisonment to a sentence to live’ might not be the Utopian ideal we think it is.
Although I think it would be great if everyone could quite literally live happily and healthily ever after, I cannot speak for others, nor is it my place to decide or limit whether someone else wishes to die. I think that a wish to stop living is about as personal as it can get.
We are horrified when someone’s life is taken away by someone else, we should be equally horrified if we would allow the choice to die to be taken away by someone else.
Of course I’m not supporting that people commit suicide. I think, first and foremost, that people, when confronted by such thoughts of ending their lives, should seek help wherever they can – be it from family, a good friend, or a professional. If you are reading this, and you have thoughts of suicide for whatever reason, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline wants to help and support you when you most need it!
The right to decide on the continuation of one’s own life may be counter to many people’s views, but it is an aspect we should consider and think about regardless of the conclusion we may draw from it.
Martin van der Kroon is the Director of Recruitment of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.