SIGN UP FOR THE LIFEMAG BRIEF

Receive our top articles each week direct to your inbox

What good is thinking about death?

by Ricky Piper Published on 28th May 2015

by Ricky Piper Published on 28th May 2015

Currently, the one greatest truth about life is that without some kind of radical intervention, one day it will certainly end. Accepting this or not marks the difference between an advocate of life extension and pretty much the rest of the general population. 

For those of us who refuse to go quite so gently into the night, the unwillingness of the majority of humanity to share in the pursuit to extend healthy lifespan can at times be as perplexing as it is frustrating. It seems simply illogical to rationalise aging as a natural process, so in turn, there grows a tendency to dismiss or even resent those whose apathy continues to slow the rate of research and development into combating age-related disease. 

As a consequence, the sense of enlightenment felt by many within the life extension community can at times manifest itself in ways that are far from beneficial in changing the attitudes of the apathetic or opposed. Initiatives designed to raise awareness of the cause and garner support are often undertaken from such a standpoint of the enlightened preaching to the ignorant. The evident lack of knowledge about life extension worldwide is thus seen as the principal issue affecting development, and the belief is that by extolling our views to a wider audience these attitudes will inevitably be changed and more support gained. The issue herein is that this is done with little attempt to actually understand why others don't always share in our point of view, and similarly, without considering the damage that can be done by not addressing this in the right way. 

People simply don't want to be confronted by death. Apathy stems from fear, and acceptance arises from a range of coping strategies which have been developed since childhood, and grow more sophisticated each time we lose a loved one, or a pet, or are faced with large-scale human tragedies. Encouraging, or even forcing people to face their fear of death can therein often serve only to reinforce these mechanisms, and lead them to run even further away from the concept. 

Julie Beck's article "What good is thinking about death?" published in the Atlantic, is entirely reflective of such a notion. Within it, she explores the reasons why we avoid the subject of our mortality, and the range of strategies we employ to push our inevitable death to the very back of our consciousness. Her conclusion that "if we accept death, maybe we can just live" may represent the very antithesis of the life extension community ethos. But if we consider such a viewpoint as indicative of the attitudes of the majority, then it is essential that we seek to understand exactly why this is the case. 

Only through understanding why our ideas are not universally shared, can we formulate strategies which really are beneficial in gaining greater advocacy for increasing human longevity. 

Read the full article @ The Atlantic