Extending Our Life Span

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Scientists at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom have announced mitochondrial complex II activity decreased significantly in older skin. This development means that scientists hope that they can harness this energy to create powerful new anti-aging treatments both to prolong life and make us appear younger longer. While I am all for  getting on the “let’s not look a day over 40” train I am not so sure about extending our lives for significant periods of time. I mean do we really need people who are 125 years old or older walking this earth?

Yes, its true that people who have been-there-done-that often bring a lot to the table. Hopefully it’s wisdom and the ability to reflect back on all they have done in order to improve things for themselves and others in the future. But what about those who are unable to be introspective and self-reflective? Do we really want those who make the same mistakes over and over again hanging out even longer gobbling up our limited resources? And knowing we have finite resources what would be the criteria for being chosen to live significantly longer? Is it the poet, the musician or the mathematician whose contributions to society is more valuable? Maybe the doctor, the street cleaner, or the academic? The person with autism or cerebral palsy?

Should your genetic code be analyzed to determine if you will suffer from dementia or lung cancer? Which cancers would be permissible and at what point do you start costing society more than you are worth if you live longer and develop several throughout your lifetime? Would it be IQ or emotional intelligence which would rein supreme or would brute physical strength be the desired attribute? Should people with three DUI’s and a wrecked liver the size of a football field be given the chance to prolong their lives an extra 30-50 years? And should the amount of melanin in your skin be the determinate factor because if you listen to people involved in American politics like frontrunner Mr. Trump “those people” (meaning those who do not look like him and have more melanin) are causing all the crime. UGH. DO I NEED TO MAKE CLEAR WHAT AN IDIOT HE IS?!!!!

Yet, with all these questions to consider there are even more important ones to be asked. Specifically who should it be that makes the determinations of which qualities and characteristics are superior? Is it persons who are Black, White, Asian, Native American, Latino, East Indian, German, Dutch or from the Cook Islands?  Do they represent all of us or just a few?Are they Jewish, Catholic or Buddhist? Are they rich or poor? Happy or sad? Are they male or female? And what are their ages? Should they be required to have longer alleles longer so they are more resilient than others in the face of adversity?

While we forge ahead in science it seems to me that often we do not take into account whether or not we should do… or not do… something in the first place. As long as it is done in “THE NAME OF SCIENCE” (a just and noble pursuit)  then it must be okay. But often it isn’t. Maybe bigger, faster or new and improved is not what we should be looking towards. Maybe a live man-eating T-Rex is not in our best interests. Because maybe, just maybe, the circle of life is already perfect just the way it is…a circle with no beginning and no end… and it should be left alone just the way we found it.

 

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