Clear distinctions must first be made. A dictionary will tell you the following: ‘Immortality’ is the ability to live forever. What it does not tell you is that Earth is eventually going to die out. When that day comes, even immortal humans would die with it, unless of course humans are to inhabit another planet in the cosmos. Therefore, for the purposes of this discourse, let it be known that when ‘Immortality’ or ‘Immortal’ is used, the exact meaning is this: the ability to continuously live at an optimal age without dying from old age, while still being able to die from mortal wounds or lack of nutrients. Let this precise definition sink in. Refer back to it if need be, as you read on.
Let us begin. Perhaps the biggest fear some humans have is the fear of death. To know that one day will be the last is quite daunting to think about. Death is one of few things that unites the human race, in this day and age. Quite ironic, is it not? Notice ‘in this day and age’ was used; at present, humans are incapable of living forever. The life expectancy of humans has drastically changed over the course of time. There was a time when people would not live to adulthood. There was a time when people would just barely reach their thirties. Today, the expectancy is around 80 years. That is pretty short a time to be alive. Time is a funny thing, really. It passes by faster when we want it to slow down and slows down when we want it to speed up. Time is subjective. Time is an illusion. Humans spend about 27 years of that asleep. Humans spend another 27 at work. And the remaining 26 is spent either doing nothing or doing some other activities. Regardless of how it is spent, humans are eventually faced with an inescapable end. That is the way of life, at present. But what if it was not so? What if humans were granted immortality, in this life?
There is as much bad to come from life as there is good. Let us start with the bad. Taxes. Chaos. Regrets. Traffic. Loneliness. The Unknown. The list could go on and on, but these five will be the focus.
Taxes. No matter what society we live in, there will always be taxes. Why? Because for a society to exist, a government must be present. Why? Because where two or more people congregate, there will always be conflict. A government dictates what passes and what does not. A government always is put in place to, first and foremost, protect its citizens. Therefore, there will always be a need for taxes. Even if there was no housing or schooling or this and that, there would still be a need for protection, and so a military would need to be funded in some way. The answer will always be taxes. Just being alive and breathing on a land is ample cause for taxes. And as we know, a government not only finds reason to tax, but they also create reason to tax. Crafty, right? Such good marketers.
If immortality is achieved, taxes would never cease to be paid. As the years go on, taxes typically only ever increase. They most certainly would if everything existed indefinitely. The only way to escape taxes is death or prison. Though some inmates still pay taxes, though not on a federal level. So, in some cases, not even prisoners can escape taxes. Why? Because they hold jobs in prison or have income still generating into their accounts, outside of their confinement. We know that death is out of the question, in this case. So, what would this mean? Unless you intended to be imprisoned for an ‘immortal’ length of time, you would continue to pay taxes until the day you—oops, there is no end. Unless of course the world ends, or you die by affliction of some sort. Can you imagine that—living life in prison for billions and billions of years? Perhaps that is simply Hell on Earth.
Chaos. What is meant by this? Chaos is a broad word, but what comes to my mind is war, violence, anarchy, and uprisings. Chaos is a state. Not a state like we have in this country, but a state of being—a state of existence. It can either grow or lessen, but it never goes away. It will always be around. Again, where two or more people congregate, there will always be disagreement and judgments passed that provoke tension.
If immortality is achieved, chaos would continue to insinuate. Nations would never cease to collide because even today, there is backstabbing and ill-nature between countries. There has never been a time when all nations are at peace with one another. There has never been a time when we have come to live amongst each other without chaos. Why? Because it is in our nature as human beings.
Regrets. Regrets plague the human mind. These are negative mindful and emotional reactions to one’s individual decision-making. Regrets are choices resulting in action or inaction. They are related to opportunity cost. If you do one thing, you forgo the opportunity to do another. If you do not do anything, you forgo the opportunity to do anything. Their intensity fluctuates over time, post-decision, regarding action versus inaction, and regarding self-control at a particular age. Time can never be reversed, at present. If you made a decision at age 10, in this period of time, and it negatively impacted your life from there on out, then, if you were still alive at 80 years of age, you would have 70 years of regret would have accumulated like compound interest, or accrued like expenses or liabilities. 70 years of pain, sorrow, or suffering would have tormented you through many a sleepless night. You would have 25,550 days’ worth of regret. Of course, this is merely one example. Some regrets are resolved because one learns to cope with them. For those people, the regrets still live on with them, only they are not as interfering with life as with others, who cannot learn to cope with them.
If immortality is achieved, regrets would never go away and would negatively impact our state of mind. However, there would also be an infinite amount of time to make good on those regrets. Regrets only really exist because humans are, at present, mortal, and there is only so much time to enjoy life. But if immortality was achieved, there would be no old age; there would be no looking back on a deathbed and regretting. All that wishful thinking of what could have been would be nonexistent because there would be not thousands, not millions, but billions of years to make life as best it can be.
Loneliness. Today, you cannot argue that your loved ones are going to die. Everyone faces that harsh truth, though many choose to avoid it until the time comes, in which more regrets arise. “I could have done this with them. I wish I could say I love you again. I wish I could hold their hand one more time.” Everyone has heard these words spoken by friends or family, or perhaps you spoke or thought them yourself. There will come a day when you will feel all alone in the world. Or, perhaps that day is already at hand; perhaps you feel lonely even though your loved ones are alive or in spite of the fact that your loved ones are alive. Whatever the case may be, loneliness will never not exist at some point in a person’s life.
If humans were immortal, loneliness would not take to the latter of what was previously stated, meaning that it would be an emotional state of mind rather than a physical phenomenon. Loved ones would never die, but the feeling of seclusion or isolation or some other negative emotion targeted towards one individual would make them feel a forever state of loneliness. Of course, the immortal being would perhaps be able to overcome the feeling, but if not, it would resonate with them indefinitely. Moreover, because ailments could still befall upon humans, you would have to watch all your friends die.
Traffic. Today, the commute to work or school from home and vice versa is absolutely ridiculous. Nobody likes aggressive drivers, yet they grow in number by the day. Car crashes and car accidents kill millions each year.
Can you even imagine how long it would take to get from point A to point B if we were immortal? Just look at the roads today. Big name cities like Boston, Chicago, and New York would be flooded with cars, adding to the pollution in the air. At some point or another, Earth would become uninhabitable. Second, third, and fourth level highways would eventually be established, if the world did not become a gas chamber by then. No one would want to go anywhere. Those who still drove would likely introduce a fair amount of new curse words to the dictionary. Traffic would become a thing for bikers, and even walkers and pilots.
The unknown. It is no mystery that the unknown is another fear ever present in life. Not knowing what the future holds can drive a person mad. A person will do extreme things to prevent an unwanted future from coming to pass. A person will go to extreme lengths to ensure he or she will get what is desired. The mind cannot fathom the unknown because it does not exist. As much as one can hypothesize what may or may not transpire, one can never know. It can be beneficial to think through all possibilities for the future, but even so, there will always be something overlooked and not planned for that may devastate.
Because humans are, at present, mortal, death eventually allows for a forever rest, thus putting an end to the fear of the unknown. But if immortality was achieved, the unknown would forever dominate the course of life. Humans would go to great lengths to achieve dreams. Failure would become a constant toil for all to grapple with.
Like all things, immortality would eventually become boring. Even today, there is no clear–cut purpose to life. Either you find purpose, or you do not. Living forever would become obsolete and you would want more. But what more can be achieved after immortality? You would be forced to live on or choose to die in whatever way seemed best at that future time.
What would all this amount to? Well, taking into consideration the definition stated at the beginning of this discourse, as well as all the bad that comes from life and most definitely an immortal life, many would turn to suicide. Suicide today is a tragic and horrific thing that is all too often ignored. It is something that deserves more attention than it is given. Suicide rates would likely skyrocket over time and nothing would really be able to stop that.
War would ensue for the test of time. Land would be destroyed and turned to rubble. Nuclear warfare would wipe out lands, in which case humans would still die. Overpopulation, deforestation, pollution, natural disasters, chaos, violence—all the terrible things that are existent in life today would unfold in astounding rates unless there was a way to advance society to the point that all those could be prevented. Oh yes, and AI. That is a whole other topic worthy of far more space than this discourse can allow for. To make it to the point, we would be at war with AI forever, unless they were under our control. As soon as they are humanized with a mind of their own, they will be just more human beings to populate Earth, only they would be bigger, faster, and stronger.
Let us now transition to the good that comes out of life. Knowledge. Adventure. Family. The list could go on and on, but this discourse will focus only on those three.
Knowledge. Knowledge is perhaps the greatest marvel of the universe. The quest for knowledge is one of the greatest that one can take in life. Humans have a thirst for it; they long for it; they yearn for it. The more knowledge that is acquired, the more you can be a teacher for others. The quest for knowledge does not stop when you become an adult, nor does it stop when you graduate college; it is a continual process that leads to more inquiries that lead to more advanced thought processes. The greatest fear there can be on the quest for knowledge is that it must one day be given up. When your last breath is drawn, the journey ends and no more knowledge may be acquired. That is the way of things, in this day and age.
If immortality is achieved, the quest for knowledge would never cease to exist. You would be able to read every single book that was ever written. You would be able to sift through past, present, and future manuscripts on whatever suits your interests. You would discover all the secrets of the world and have infinite amounts of information in mind to share with the world. So, if the purpose of life is to continue to knowledge-hunting process, then immortality is an obstacle that must be attained along the way. Perhaps it is by some hidden knowledge not yet known that will lead humanity to this immortal state of being.
Adventure. Whether risky, daring, or challenging, adventures are great fun. Traveling the world, swimming across a great body of water, climbing a tall mountain, exploring cities and towns, participating in a Spartan Race—these are just a few examples of what is meant by ‘adventure.’ They are some of the most memorable moments in life. Sometimes they are better with friends and sometimes they are better alone. Regardless, adventures teach valuable lessons and make you stronger than you were prior to their start.
If immortality is achieved, and you did not age beyond the optimal age, then adventures would forever be a part of life. You would be happier, more accomplished, and more satisfied with your achievements. You would be able to go on all those adventures you only dreamt of doing in a mortal life. Happy memories could replace the bad and you would think back a few thousand years from now of what you did all those years ago. The regrets you would have in a mortal life of not going on adventures when you had the chance would not exist in an immortal life because all the time in the world is yours for the taking.
Family. Home. You adore, cherish, and admire your family members, for they are a part of you whether you are thinking of them or not. In a mortal life, you are faced with their deaths, which links back to the notion of loneliness as mentioned before. It is so hard to cope with the loss of family because they were on your side and with you since your birth.
If immortality is achieved, you would be with family forever. Celebrations, family talks, and anniversaries would continue year by year, indefinitely. Good food and good company would fill your heart for the course of time, and you would not have to cope with their passing. You would always have them as friends in your life. They are the Alpha and the Omega in life, the first and the last, the best of the best.
There is more. There is not only good and bad in life. There is also the in between—the gray. Love. I saved love, in particular, for here, as I thought it can be either good or bad, or both. Aside from love, there is also change, work, and wealth.
Love. It either makes a person whole or destroys a person. If you were immortal, you would be able to live with your husband or wife for an eternity. If you were immortal, you would be able to smile with him or her, hold their hand, go on adventures, laugh with them, and do any of the other things you love doing with the love of your life, forevermore. On the other hand, if you were a person who could never find love, you would live billions of years without a man or woman to love you in a relationship-type way. That could be either liberating or torturous. Or, you might hopscotch between lovers, always upsetting, always emotionally agonizing, and never settling. Love may hurt, love may drive people mad, and love may kill.
Change. People either hate it or love it. They hate it because it can be so hard to cope with. They love it because new beginnings are sometimes necessary and redemptive to move on. Immortality would mean perpetual changes.
Work. The unintelligent wake up every day with a frown. The average-minded wake up indifferent. The intelligent wake up with a smile. As mentioned earlier, people typically work 26 years of life—9490 full days’ worth. Imagine what life would be if work was perpetual. Vacation time and sick time would be even more valued than it is today. However, if you are your own boss, or love where you work, immortality would be worthwhile. A common saying goes something like this: those who love what they do work no days in their life. So, if someone loves what they do, a perpetual life of progression would keep him or her content. Notice that ‘progression’ was used in the previous sentence, not ‘work.’ This is because to the intelligent, work is not considered ‘work,’ but ‘progression.’ Think of what could be accomplished in a never-ending life.
Wealth. The rich and famous man or woman is seen to be perfect. But no one is perfect. Nevertheless, more money can go a long way and can do a lot more things than less money. But a rich person is still human. Emotional conflict still affects a rich person. Though if immortality was achieved, money would eventually run out, unless more wealth is attained. It can go both ways but know this: budgeting money over 80 years is a lot easier than budgeting money over billions. A lot of people would likely go bankrupt, unless they continued to work or kept winning lotteries.
To make things even more interesting, let us say that only you—yes, you—could become immortal, and that everyone else was mortal as they are today. You might cower away in some mountain for the course of time, never to be seen again. You might sail away to some island and bask in the sun for as long as the world exists. You might travel the country on foot and the seven seas by boat, since you could do that too. You might hide that you are immortal from everyone and watch as people come and go and as history unfolds through the ages to come. People would start to wonder how you are not aging. They would see you were born in 19– or 20– or whatever future date and would begin to wonder how you have not been buried or burned. Assuming some government agency had you under their radar, and time travel came into existence, you might be selected to go back in time as an operative to change history for the better.
So, let us evaluate what we have. The bad outweighed the good. Now, that is not to say there is more bad in this world than good; but, more bad seemed to come to my mind when thinking of immortality and whether it would be good for us humans. Every individual will have their own view. Children will likely think immortality would be the greatest thing to come in life. Adults might not think so. Teenagers and college students might have mixed thoughts. This proves that everything in life is subjective to the age we currently are and what we are currently dealing with that might make us believe one way or the other. Nothing in life is objective. Objectivity is like a perfect day, like reading the clock and saying it is noontime; you can try your hardest to have a perfect day, you can convince yourself that it is noontime, but you cannot attain perfection or actually know that it is noontime. Everything—yes, everything—in life is processed differently by different people.
I, personally, say that immortality would be both a bad and a good thing. I cannot go one way or another, and that is because I have so much I want to achieve in life, so much to accomplish in such a short period of time, but I know that the mortal life is also all the more beauteous because it will eventually end. I often believe I am immortal at times, but know, deep down, that death looms nigh with every passing moment. Every instant of my life is made better because I know that any moment could be my last, and that one day, it will come to an end. But that is just me—that is just one viewpoint. As I stated before, age defines thought processes. Perhaps as I grow old, this will change. But the way I see it, even if immortality is achieved, the universe will destroy itself. It would, undoubtedly, be by our own hand.
So, what do you think? If someone offered you the elixir of life—the gift of immortality—would you take it? There has been a lot of talk of late that it might very well be achieved by 2050, so, this is a matter worthy of discussion in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.