As incredulous as it may seem, I have had numerous people ask me why I support research and funding for reversing the aging process.
The usual arguments against stopping or slowing aging are that there is some sort of natural process or natural order of things, and that human beings shouldn’t be “playing God.”
In this short article, I would like to present my personal views on aging and why I believe it is perfectly natural, and in fact, desirable, for human beings to want to overcome this limitation, or at least, slow it down.
We humans have a very peculiar relationship with aging and death. On the one hand, people spend rather large sums of money on products or services that help them look and feel younger and healthier. In essence, what these people are communicating through their spending habits is that they have a desire to slow down the aging process. Yet any talk of actually reversing the aging process is met with puzzled looks or even dismissal by the very same people. On the other hand, most people dread the condition of death but have resigned themselves to the idea that there is nothing we can do about it. So while we tend to believe that death is unavoidable, we somehow also think that it won’t happen to us for a while longer, and so we put these very important topics on the back burner and refuse to think further about them or consider how to overcome them.
My personal viewpoint is that nothing gets solved without there being some sort of action toward solving it. Problems do not normally resolve themselves.
To those who ask why we should spend money, time, and effort on reversing aging, I shall present three reasons why I believe it is beneficial for us to do so.
Firstly, human beings have always wanted to improve, to grow, and to overcome hardships and challenges. Saying that there is some natural order of things is not a valid argument against reversing the aging process.
Imagine if we had, in the past, accepted a shortened lifespan as the natural order of things. It’s good that we didn’t, because global average life expectancy has more than doubled since the year 1900.
Imagine if we had, in the past, accepted a chaotic, uncomfortable, and dangerous life as the natural order of things. It’s good that we didn’t, because we came up with inventions such as electricity, the Internet, the X-ray, indoor plumbing, heating, and so forth.
Imagine if we had, in the past, accepted our young sons and daughters having their precious lives cut short by illness as the natural order of things. It’s good that we didn’t, because we now have cures for dysentery, malaria, and tuberculosis.
The fact is that the human condition involves us progressing, overcoming limitations, and being better human beings. Hence, it is natural for human beings to want to overcome undesirable situations, and I would imagine that most people would state that poverty, disease, and aging are undesirable.
Next, reversing the process of aging will give each one of us additional time that we need in order to accomplish other lofty goals. Imagine if you had an additional 10 or 20 young years of life. How much more could you accomplish during that time? We could spend more time on goals such as eliminating poverty, coming up with a cure for cancer, working toward world peace, and so forth. I find it hard to imagine that someone could argue against having more time in life to work on their personal purpose, vision, and mission. Therefore, reversing the process of aging would result in us being able to work on other things that are important to the human race, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of improvement and progress.
Finally, perhaps the most beautiful aspect of the human condition is having a human experience. The human experience includes things such as building relationships with other people, enjoying the splendors of a warm summer afternoon with friends or family, and partaking in any number of stimulating and rewarding activities, such as reading, exercising, and doing charity work.
To those of you who are in a romantic relationship, I ask, wouldn’t you want more time and more opportunities to be with your spouse or partner? Imagine never hearing your partner whisper sweetly in your ear again, or forever losing the overwhelming pleasure of making love to them, or no longer experiencing the rewarding growth you’ve experienced with them since you became a couple.
To those of you who are parents, I ask, wouldn’t you want to ensure that your children live long, happy, and productive lives? Imagine if your son or daughter could have more time and more opportunities to become the person who will finally find a cure for depression, or start a movement that helps brings us closer to world peace, or become a source of inspiration for many people around the world through starting an organization, but they won’t, because we have accepted a “natural order of things.”
To those of you who are actively involved in an ambitious project or important cause that means a lot to you, I ask, wouldn’t you want more time and more energy to work on these things that are meaningful to you? Imagine never being able to work on fulfilling your purpose or vision in life.
There are many more reasons why I believe we should focus on reversing aging, but the three reasons above are a good starting point for us to more seriously consider this most important of issues.
Let’s even assume for a moment that implausible scenarios such as reincarnation and life after death are real. Why wouldn’t we want to live this current life better? I do not believe it is mutually exclusive to believe in life after death and also want to live our current lives better. Throwing up our hands in defeat and accepting things as they currently are does not lead to progress and growth; it leads to atrophy.
So before we give up the good fight and resign ourselves to an old and decrepit future, we must ask ourselves what we are living for.
If I had to give just one reason for wanting to reverse aging, it would be pretty simple: I love life too damn much.
What’s your reason?
Arin Vahanian is Director of Marketing for the U.S. Transhumanist Party.