Even if we could, should we? Read this trilemma to find out!
by Kiersten Ngeow
For as long as civilization has existed, humanity has tried to find numerous ways to extend our lifespans. Whether it was through creating gunpowder, which was thought of as the “potion for immortality,” to the daring search of “The Fountain of Youth” in 1513. But although these creations and pursuits for immortality did not succeed, we haven’t given up on increasing our lifespans.
In fact, over the past two centuries, the average life expectancy has risen. Thus, resulting in an immense shift, from an average global life expectancy of fewer than 30 years to over 72 years today.
One of the reasons for this rapidly increased lifespan is due to the scientific discoveries that rewrote history. From the creation of vaccines that allow for us to develop immunity to a specific disease to more recently, the use of genome editing.
But what if, as our understanding of science evolves, we had the option to choose whether we wanted to live forever or not?
This is where our trilemma is presented: If given the choice, should we live forever or not? Or is there a neutral option?
We should choose to live forever:
Have you ever wondered what the future would be like?
Would we finally have flying cars? What crazy inventions would we use then? Was Elon Musk finally able to bring people to travel in space through SpaceX? And why is it that ketchup is so hard to pour? Do we fix that in the future?
If we could live forever, we could see these answers to these questions and more. Any questions you had about the unknown future would eventually get answered if you were immortal.
Additionally, have you ever felt as though you never had enough time to pursue different interests? Whether it be picking up a new instrument or learning how to cook? Or what about all of those movies you haven’t seen or books you haven’t read yet because you don’t have time.
Time would no longer be a constraint on your life. If you chose to live forever, you would have limitless time to pursue your passions, dreams, aspirations—alongside others who decided to live forever too.
We shouldn’t choose to live forever:
Just because we could live forever doesn’t mean we should.
Death gives meaning to our lives. Knowing that we have limited time on Earth can act as a motivator to take action in pursuing our dreams. Living forever allows for an infinite amount of time to procrastinate. But, if we chose not to live forever, death would become an inevitable reality.
As Viktor Frankl, a prominent psychiatrist, stated, “If we were immortal, we could legitimately postpone every action forever. It would be of no consequence whether or not we did a thing now . . . But in the face of death as absolute finish to our future and boundary to our possibilities, we are under the imperative of utilizing our lifetimes to the utmost, not letting the singular opportunities . . . pass by unused.”
Additionally, if we did live forever, we would live to see the people we love die if they had chosen not to live forever. Would we be willing to endure that pain countless times as we choose to live on for eternity?
Despite what decision one chooses, whether it is to live forever or not, we can all take action today to extend our lifespan. These seemingly small actions can have significant life-changing results, whether it’s through fitness, healthier eating, or even getting more sleep.
And although I would love to live forever, there are actions we can take today to live better with the precious remaining days we still have on this Earth.