Percentage of people in the 17 countries surveyed who say they want to live forever:
Do you want to live forever? As long as I have health and happiness, for me the answer is a resounding yes.
Might throw in a caveat or two* about friends, family, and freedom but, generally speaking, I’d like to live forever. So much to learn, so much to do, so many careers to try. Give me time without end and I might even take up gardening, in which I’ve always had an interest.
Turns out my desire to join Methuselah is relatively rare. Only 40% of Americans desire life everlasting. Must be the taxes.
And while Americans are not alone in being content with a dust-to-dust existence (more than 50% worldwide under 45 do not desire immortality), as a percentage we are a bit on the low side. The range of those desiring to beat out the Grim Reaper runs from a low of 36% in Russia (who knew we had so much in common?) to a high of 72% in Brazil (readersdigest.com/worldquestions).
For what it is worth, stopping the hands of time is a frequent theme in science fiction, a favorite mind-expanding literary genre of mine. Concerns about society becoming extremely cautious and rigid predominate: Is it the young who are the rebels who create needed creative destruction? Is it the shortness of our time in this mortal vale that gives us the impetus to build, achieve, and create? If it is only accidents that can end our lives (vs. the deterioration of our physical form), would we become highly risk averse? Lose the sense of adventure that defines us as a people? Some philosophers have opined that it is the passage of our youthful strength and the deadline that is death that makes us turn to things of the spirit, motivates us to cultivate wisdom.
Other themes are the inevitable social conflict if eternal life is available to only a few or if one must keep one’s immortality a secret. The difficulty of not aging while those you love and cherish do, the challenge of starting over every few decades as the disparity grows too great.
How about you? Do you want to live forever? If so, what would you do with that gift that you are not doing now?
*My caution comes from those Magic Genie/Three Wishes jokes, the law of unforeseen consequences. Everything from the 50-year-old guy who wants a wife half his age and, “whoosh,” he is 100 years old, to King Midas who failed to realize that he would lose the ability to embrace his loved ones when granted his wish that everything he touches turns to gold. (I’ve always wondered what happened when King Midas touched the Earth? Did our globe transmute into gold? Was there a limited range? 3 inches? 3 feet? 3 miles? And how did King Midas eat?)
“Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” — Susan Ertz
“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.” — Woody Allen
“Give me my robe, put on my crown I have immortal longings in me.” — William Shakespeare, “Antony and Cleopatra”, Act 5 Scene 2, Cleopatra speaking
“The only thing wrong with immortality is that it tends to go on forever.” — Herbert Eugene Caen, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist
“Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I have been dying for twenty years, now I am going to live.” — James Drummond Burns, Scottish Presbyterian minister