If you ask most people what they think about aging, they will shrug their shoulders and say that it is a natural process. With complete tranquility on their faces, they will agree that, yes, in old age, we are haunted by many diseases, but nothing can be done about it, so it makes no sense to worry about it while you are young and healthy. Just live your life.
Then, the conversation will turn towards an even stranger direction: they will start looking for something good about aging – for example, that it ensures a change of generations, prevents society from becoming stuck in obsolete ideas, and, in general, is the engine of evolution. They’ll explain that the notion of death gives meaning to life and makes us accomplish as much as possible in the little time we have.
Here’s the intriguing part. If you ask the same people what they felt when they first encountered the concept of aging and death from old age, they remember that they were frightened. They were not happy with the answers to “Mom, are you gonna get old and die?” and “Will I die too?” Many people remember that they cried bitterly after this conversation and were filled with sorrow for several days.
Out of sympathy, the distressed child’s parents found more and more arguments in favor of the idea that aging and death are not such a big problem. “You will live a long time,” they said, “so do not be afraid of aging.” “You have a brother, and even when Dad and I are not with you anymore, he will be with you, so you will not be alone.” “Dad and I are healthy, we will help you with everything, you will become independent and you will manage.” “Yes, your grandmother is old, but she has lived a good life and she has nothing to regret…”
All of these consolations are aimed at one thing: to extinguish the natural fear of death by aging, causing young people to turn a blind eye to the biggest killer of humans on earth, a war that humans have always lost and continue to lose.
The end result of this indifference is amazing. Our society holds the opinion that aging is not a problem. We are afraid of AIDS and Ebola, we are so upset when people are killed in air crashes that we create an international conflict, we are horrified when looking at the photos of young people killed in war, we send humanitarian aid to people who die of hunger in poor countries, we pursue and imprison killers, but we calmly look at the wrinkles of old people – and our own – and do nothing to stop the hand of time, which mutilates us and takes away our lives.
Funding is holding back progress
The whole field of research on the biology of aging is underfunded; there are no drugs against aging yet, and people continue to die of aging at the rate of 100,000 per day because no country in the world has a large social movement demanding the abolition of aging. Meanwhile, we keep spending billions on football matches, new smart devices, beautiful cars, and all-inclusive tours.
Don’t you think it’s unfair that, after everything you do to make your life better, such as studying, searching for your path, setting your own business, working late-night shifts, developing relationships with people, building a family, acquiring vital wisdom, and so on, aging leaves you with nothing, robbing you of all your achievements and destroying everything you’ve worked for, including your life?
Do not you find it unnatural to turn a blind eye to the work of a murderer simply because he kills slowly and his victims do not scream with horror and pain? Meanwhile, pain is what awaits each of us, because diseases caused by aging will be with us for at least the last 20 years of life.
Maybe it is time to stop kidding ourselves? Let’s realize that our parents told us fairy tales because we were small and would not be able to cope with the stress of truly understanding inevitable death from aging. True maturity comes when we are able to distinguish truth from lies, look straight at our fears, and start working on a solution to the problem that scares us.
Scientific research is slow, but it is ongoing. There are only about a dozen processes that form the basis of aging, and for each of them, researchers can discover a remedy, because these are physical processes that are amenable to medical intervention. When even one of the aging processes is addressed by new therapies, such as senolytics, laboratory animals become healthier and live much longer. Here is the truth you need to see: aging can be controlled and reversed through the application of knowledge and technology. There is not a single reason why we should tolerate it.
If each of us would have the courage to stand up and say, “Yes, aging is bad, I want to get rid of it and be healthy as long as possible”, if each of us would invest a little bit of goodwill into solving the problem, we could finally stop living with lies – and stop dying because of lies.
Become a volunteer in an organization that promotes aging research, and spend at least an hour a week to seek a solution by donating your skills. For example, we at Lifespan.io have a catastrophic lack of hands if you want to get involved.
If you can not invest your time – support the work of scientists by participating in crowdfunding for scientific research. Find 20 bucks a month, because you can live without these three hamburgers or a pizza, but you cannot live without health.
If you have neither time nor money, include the topic of aging in your informal communications. Talk with other people about the desirability and, most importantly, the possibility of reversing aging, because most people still do not know about the impending revolution in rejuvenation biotechnology. At least, try to make reposts, like posts, and write positive comments under articles discussing the progress of aging research. Six handshakes, as they say, allow you to hug the whole world!
The contribution of each individual person may be small – but when we unite our efforts, we reach the critical mass necessary to make positive changes. Get involved. Become the catalyst for these changes. Become a Lifespan Hero. Let’s create a world where we can stay healthy as long as we want and where it will not be necessary to console our frightened children by telling them false stories.
June 21, 2018
Excellent article. It speaks the words that are haunting all of us who try to promote the end of aging.
June 24, 2018
I remember hearing similar kinds of “comforting” words from adults as well. And especially also the religious ones about how death is ok because people go to Heaven and have a great time. But even the (actual) religions aren’t all that comforting when you study them as they threaten that a lot of people end up in Hell…
June 24, 2018
I actually think honesty is most of the time the best policy and a better “story” would be to admit aging and death from it are bad but say scientists are working on solutions for it. I think kids can deal with more reality than we realise, as long as they’re also protected and loved.
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