On those occasions when I need to shut my brain down from the endless cycle of programmatic problem solving, I tend to watch television for the exact reason you shouldn’t watch a lot of television. It’s a virtually mindless experience. And my preferred genre of choice is of course sci-fi. Yes, I know, I am the classic caricature of a geek. At any rate my recent TV ventures have featured the idea of immortality, and they got me thinking about the idea of living forever.And when I say “thinking about”, I don’t mean some wistful day dreams. I mean seriously considering the practical reality of living hundreds or more years. You have to think that eventually you’d get bored and just say to hell with it, enough already, and jump out of a plane without a parachute. Can you imagine the practical reality of living in a world where the only way people die is suicide?
This is bound to become a reality sooner or later. Maybe not before we bite the bullet, but the reigning hypothesis is that with the acceleration of technology the first person to live to two hundred years old will also likely be the first person to live to a thousand. Of course, I quit counting at 25, so I probably wouldn’t even realize it if I made it that far.
However, if you’re really thinking about this from a practical standpoint then the reality is that it will likely be the wealthiest among us that are the first to make it to two hundred or five hundred or a thousand years old. People are pissed now that corporations are considered people for the purposes of campaign finance. Imagine what they’ll think when we essentially have immortals running around. That lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court just took on a whole new meaning didn’t it?
Of course, many people will think that it’s a tragedy that the richest among us will be the first to live hundreds of years based often times on nothing more than the fluke of being born into wealth. People are already upset that the wealthy live longer than the poor never mind when it goes from decades to centuries. Maybe it is a tragedy. I don’t know, but while they’re up on their soap boxes damning the man let me give them something else to think about.
If you’re reading this right now, you’re part of the one percent of people in human history that have access to virtually unlimited amounts of information. You’re part of the one percent that have access to medications to treat diseases that would have likely killed you or a sibling before you were a year old, and you’d be lucky to make it past 40. You’re part of the one percent that can, without much difficulty, see more of the world than the hundred square miles around the place you were born. And you are given all of this, and much much more, for no other reason than the fluke of being born now and not two hundred years ago.
We, all of us, when compared to all of human history are the one percent. We are the richest most powerful people in all of human history, and very very few of us actually act like it.
So I ask you what have you done with it? What great things have you accomplished with your birthright, and how much of it have you pissed away on your own selfish whims? Think about that the next time you hear someone condemning the rich and powerful. For all the technological advances we have made, we still haven’t learned what they figured out a few thousand years ago about those that cast stones.