Why advocacy for longevity science? Why is it important for us to be building megaphones, educating people about the scientific foundation for extended healthy life, and persuading everyone we can to help? Put simply it is because this advocacy is a necessary part of the only reliable, proven path to establishing a research community capably of getting the job done.
One of the most active Immortality Institute activists, brokenportal, sent me the text below today, which I reproduce with his permission. The dedication is a reminder to the rest of us just what it takes to make things happen in this world of ours:
Will we reach the point of Longevity Escape Velocity, and thus live on in good health for centuries, sustained by ever more effective advances in longevity medicine? Many of us ask ourselves this question, unsure of how the research community is doing: who is working on what, and how fast or slow are they moving? We think that maybe "they" can get the job done in 25 years, maybe 45, maybe 75, 100, 1,000 ... we don't know.
Here is the good news for we who wonder: WE ARE "THEY". Progress occurs at the rate at which we collectively make it happen. We are the people who build the future, not some faceless and unknown "they": if we work harder, the future arrives more rapidly. If we slack off, the future drifts away into the distance. In these early years, in which persuasion is as valuable as lab work, every volunteer hour dedicated to helping advance medical technology is priceless. Who are the volunteers? Us. It is you and I that must contribute the time and make the difference. It is our contributions that snowball over time into the determination of whether we live or die: does longevity-enhancing medicine arrive within our lifetimes, or will we just miss the boat?
If you are reading this today, then you are already like a General woken in the midst of a battle field, with one eye, in the land of the blind. You know more than most, and you can see the possibilities of longevity science - the possibilities that will only be realised if we all work towards the goal of longer healthier lives. Who else but you will do what needs to be done to rouse and guide those who are yet blind? It is our duty to use the vision that we have to benefit the rest of the world. Those people depend on us, and the length of their lives depends upon us: they need us to bring this cause to them, open their eyes, and let them make the choice to help.
Bringing this cause to the world at large is as simple as spreading the word. We can all do that! All we have to do is inform people; as a community we longevity advocates have many projects, big and small, short and tall, for one and all. You can slide in wherever you fit in, into advocacy projects that are underway or in development.
The small things are the big things at this stage in this growing movement for indefinite life extension: every little difference made now will make big waves in the years ahead. Today is a crossroads and a dawn in the age of biotechnology - a unique time filled with extraordinary opportunities for anybody to make a difference in the longevity cause. Every action we take today will have results that add up and accelerate like the penny doubling effect. If you double a penny once a month for 35 months you end up with over a billion dollars, and the earlier you start, the sooner you have that money! So the point at which you help to make those first doublings happen is very important, even though it might not look like it while you can still hold the pennies in one hand.
When the cause of longevity science is worldwide and as discussed and supported as stem cell research is today, then your modest personal contributions won't mean as much - and you if you waited until then to help out, you would have missed the opportunity to act when you could have made the greatest different. Strike now while the anvil is hot and the day is young.
I would guess that we are looking at about a five year window here to get through to the world at large. If we all put in our two cents today then the concepts of longevity science could be discussed at every dinner table in 2014, and broadly looked upon as a good thing. Think about it: new sodas, new fads, the ins and outs of stem cell medicine, and many similar things have risen from obscurity to influence the public discussion across a five year period. We can definitely do the same for the concept of extending the healthy human life span!
My recommendation to everybody is to put aside your lesser pastimes for the next 5 years or so, and make a hobby out of helping the cause of longevity research and advocacy for longer healhy human lives. Help the grassroots cause grow by devoting your energy, resources, and time. What else could you possibly find to do that will have as great an eventual payoff than this? Where else could you work towards the goal of providing yourself and everyone you know with additional decades of healthy life?
Now is the time. Not next year, not waiting around to see what the guy next to you does. But now. You won't be sorry you stepped up to help, and in years to come you'll be able to say that you took part in the greatest cause on Earth - working to save more lives than any other project mankind has ever undertaken.