I watched an episode of Through the Wormhole the other night. It was about different types of scientists who were (desperately) working toward finding a way to make people immortal. Some biologists were busy studying creatures that had lifespans that lasted hundreds of years; while other bio-specialists were busy mucking around with DNA and genomes in an attempt to ensure that all future children would be ‘perfect’ (and who defines what is perfect?). Still other scientists were busy seeking a way to create a non-biological or only partial biological body that could house our brains/souls so that we would never have to worry about sickness or death again.
Yet, no one ever explained why this is so important. Why would someone want to live forever? Are most people so afraid of dying that they would prefer becoming some sort of robot? Unfortunately, whenever I think of a world full of immortal people, I become very frightened. To me, it would be a curse to have to live for hundreds of years. People rarely change. They form opinions, habits, preconceptions, and ideologies and seldom do they allow these ingrained mindsets to shift. So, do you really want to see what happens to the world when someone like Hitler (or Trump), who is afraid of everyone and everything, lives forever?
And if that thought doesn’t scare you, how about all the overcrowding and lack of natural resources that would occur when people stop dying? Talk about a dystopian world. Nothing but blighted cities, with polluted air too foul to breathe, no viable drinking water, and food…yeah, let’s all take our protein pill.
Rather than wasting our time and resources on trying to make people immortal, I think we would do better as a species to spend some time trying to help planet Earth cope with the load of humans she already carries. I also think we should spend more time recognizing and coping with the fact that death is real. It’s not going away and it’s not something to be feared. Death isn’t the end of everything. It isn’t a permanent ‘dirt nap’ or a ‘deep dark hole of nothingness.’ It is simply the end of one physical existence and the continuation of life. Your sentience, the awareness that comprises your true being isn’t limited by the container you call your body. That is simply a conveyance, a method of operating and participating in the physical world.
Just because one body fails doesn’t mean your life is over. Your life as Sam or Jessica is over, yes, but you pick another life, another set of parents, another body, and you start again. Now, you can try out some other options. Maybe as Sam/Jessica you didn’t like the way things worked out in terms of your romantic life. Okay, now as Joe/Abby you can try some different options and see if those romances work out the way you want them to.
But the best part is that when you pick up this new body, you also lose many of the old preconceptions and prejudices that you had. It’s a whole new fresh start. Talk about a science lab. Physical life is just one big classroom where you can study biology, sociology, psychology, mathematics, physics, zoology and every other type of science there is. And if science isn’t your thing, then you can focus on music, art, drama, or medicine.
So, instead of trying to be immortal, maybe we should think about what we want to do next. After all, death is just another step in that long road we call life. It’s nothing to be afraid of, I know…I’ve been to the other side, and I’ve come back. It’s different, but different doesn’t have to be scary.