Sunday, January 16, 2011

Here's To Ye, Pale Horseman

Excuse me, are you...  Ha!  I thought so!  You only look a little like the pictures I've seen, but the hollow eyesockets were a dea- I mean, a giveaway.  Do you mind if I join you?  Cheers.

Well, this is a privilege!  There's a lot of folks who know lots of folks, but you are the only one who is going to meet everyone, right?  Boy, the stories I bet you could tell...  I imagine you have a heck of a non-disclosure agreement though, huh?  If Houdini can't even get enough of a furlough to float a feather, that has got to indicate some fairly stringent security measures.

Personally?  Well, I guess I'm just a little intrigued.  At the darkest parts of my life, there's probably even been a part of me that wondered what it would be like to get you know you, you know, on a personal level, but rushing the inevitable just feels a little foolish to me, so, there it is.

But I guess even that inevitability isn't as sure a thing as it once was, eh?  You must see the same articles that I do; the ones where they talk about 'turning off the death gene' or whatever.  They are already predicting far greater lifespans just a generation or two down the road.  And that's before you even start looking at human cloning for either replacement parts, or even transfer of consciousness.  It's no longer completely irresponsible or crazy to suggest that dying of old age could be an outmoded notion by the next century.  And the strangest thing about it, is that talk like that pushes me into your corner!

Oh, that surprised you, did it?  It's kind of hard to tell, honestly, what with you not having any eyebrows or anything.  But it's true; I don't look at the post-mortality future with optimism.

How can you even ask why?  In the last century, we lined up most of your business for you, didn't we?  What was it, 40 million people in less than one decade right in the middle?  Forty million!  And we step back and say, 'whoa, hey, we can't let things get out of control like that again!' and others say 'Never again!', and I'm sure they mean well, but then the rest of us just sit back and let things slide in places like Kampuchea and Rwanda.  And for what? A little more turf, a little more gold for our portion of a century drawing breath?

What on Earth will we be capable of once we get it into our heads that we can have it forever?  Once you throw out that whole "you can't take it with you" mentality, man, I am pretty sure that everything else goes up for grabs.

It's so easy to rationalize, right?  I mean, there's already speculation as to how this planet is going to sustain all of us, and that's with every one of us popping our clogs after a while.  If some people are never going to vacate the premises, well, that's a problem.

I figure if they ever discover a cure for death or a fountain of youth or whatever, it is not going to be a case of first come first served.  And if cancer drugs can cost thousands of dollars a dose, I figure an immortality serum is going to go for whatever the market can bear.  And I don't remember the exact numbers, but with 2% of the people holding 50% of the world's wealth, it can probably bear a fair old amount.

And once those fat-cats know they are going to live forever as long as they can eat, brother, I think the gloves are really going to come off.  I mean, if the other 98% don't just overwhelm them first.  Either way, I kind of hope I don't live to see it.

There's a whole philosophical angle as well.  Even if benevolent aliens from Proxima Centauri showed up tomorrow and just added Mortalinox or whatever to our water supply so that everyone on the planet could halt the aging process at middle age, it's still a resource distribution nightmare, unless Mortalinox doubles as a contraceptive.

And even if it did, what then?  We have a closed system, a species incapable of reproduction, incapable of infusing itself with new blood and shuffling the deck.  Where do the bold new ideas come from?  There's this guy, a writer, named Andrew Vachss who says children are "another chance for our flawed species to get it right."  I know, right?  It's even cooler when you consider the guy has never had any kids himself.  But the point is, things change for the better when a fresh face encounters something and says "why is it that way?" and someone else says, "I dunno, that's how it's always been," and the first person figures "This sucks," and starts changing things.  Where is the incentive to change when you are going to live forever?  I mean, if you think we are a bunch of hide-bound sticks-in-the-mud now, wait until you see how good people are at playing it safe when they anticipate living forever!  It's a stagnant pond that-

Oh, hey, that's my flight they're calling.

Listen, I have to go, and I don't want to sound like a fanboy or anything, but as much as you've given me cause to hate and fear you, I've come to respect you.   You've always been even-handed; rich or poor, black or white, capitalist or communist, Jew, gentile or atheist, you've come for us all.  You're the great equalizer, one of those rare things every human has in common.  I mean, when something like SIDS comes along, sure, your poll numbers are going to take a hit; who doesn't like babies?  But on the other hand, there's this whole movement where people are saying they should be able to decide exactly when they are going to meet you, do it on their own terms as it were, so maybe there's more understanding out there than you think. 

All I know is, it's hard to imagine a world without you, and God willing, I won't have to experience it.

You take care, big guy.  I guess I'll be seeing you around.

Not too soon though, right?

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