Events and news of the past year have left me convinced that now is a good time to set forth on ventures related to healthy life extension, be they volunteer, individual, profit or non-profit. A wave is slowly rising and gaining strength: efforts by diverse groups to advocate, promote and educate are beginning to noticeably influence mainstream culture and media. This in turn leads to more such efforts. Just the other day, I noticed an article at Yahoo! News on regenerative medicine that mentioned life extension:
SAN FRANCISCO - In laboratories the world over, scientists bent on turning back our biological clocks are looking past harvesting human embryos and cloning in their quest for disease cures.
A small but growing group of researchers seeking the proverbial fountain of youth insists its work has no kinship to cryogenics, freezing Ted Williams' body, or other fantastic scientific forays in life extension.
What these scientists hope for is to be able to make old cells young again, imbuing them with all the potential healing power that youthful cells may possess.
This may not seem like much to those of you who are new to healthy life extension, but it is a big step to see mainstream media outlets talking seriously about extending the healthy human life span. This is a very recent (and very welcome) phenomenon.
In the laboratory, scientists are starting to make more and more promising discoveries. More of the public is starting to understand that healthy life extension medicine is possible, and how it might be achieved. You can't ignore the fact that laboratories around the world are overflowing with long-lived creatures as a result of current research trends. Groups like the Methuselah Foundation encourage this sort of science, as it brings greater public recognition of the possibilities the future holds for the healthy human life span.
The broader healthy life extension community is getting large enough and diverse enough to support fierce, high-profile battles between individuals and groups over money, viewpoints, goals and methods. (You can see some of these battles in action in the articles and webcasts at SAGE Crossroads). It's human nature at work, and a mark of progress. Only small groups are unified.
Most importantly, people have stopped laughing about healthy life extension. Those who are strongly opposed to the concept - such as Leon Kass of the President's Council on Bioethics are fighting hard to block research and convince people to continue suffering and dying ... but this opposition isn't laughing. Gandhi famously said:
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
This very true description of the way in which we humans fight our social battles has long lent strength to advocates of healthy life extension. Today, we stand close to winning the battle of knowledge, perception and education - to making sure that the potentials and possibilities of future medicine are understood and accepted. As happened in the past for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's and other medical conditions, public support will open the floodgates for serious research and commercial funding. With these resources, the scientific and medical community will be able to understand and cure age-related conditions and, ultimately, aging itself.
This is the way it will be. How long it takes is up to us. I encourage you all to take the plunge and help. Look on it as a small and very worthwhile investment into your future health and longevity.